Holocaust Imagery at COVID Anti-Mask Protest Disgusts Jewish Group

A Canadian Jewish group has condemned the use of Holocaust symbolism by people protesting COVID-19 regulations, saying it is "disgusted and concerned" that the memory of the tragedy has been "tarnished" by such a movement.

B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish activist organization, referred in particular to attendees of a COVID-19 protest in Calgary, Alberta who posed with a yellow Star of David marked with "Mask Exempt." During the Holocaust, Jews in Nazi Germany, as well as countries occupied by or allied with the Nazis, were made to wear the yellow badges so they could be identified and ostracized.

Photos of the protest, held March 20, showed placards rejecting masks and lockdowns, in addition to displaying conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic, vaccines and 5G. Several signs promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory.

At a previous protest from the same movement, some attendees brought tiki torches, drawing comparisons to white nationalists during the infamous 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The choice of paraphernalia drew condemnation from Alberta officials, who accused the COVID-19 protesters of promoting racism.

B'nai Brith Canada also pointed to a column published last week in the Calgary Herald newspaper, in which the author claimed the Canadian government is mulling over forcing people to get vaccinated "as if the Nuremberg trials never happened."

The Calgary Herald added a clarification statement on top of the piece that states: "The horrors of the Holocaust are without precedent, and no modern-day event should ever be compared to it.

"The author's reference to the Nuremberg Code was not to draw equivalency but to underscore the historical fact that the Nuremberg Code formed the basis for modern medical ethics, the first principle of which is that a person must be able to choose if they want to receive experimental medical treatments."

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, said in a statement: "The abuse of the memory of the Holocaust to serve a toxic and conspiratorial agenda must stop. There is room for a healthy debate in Canadian society on how to tackle COVID-19, but the cheap use of Holocaust imagery is horrifying and beyond the pale."

The Calgary Herald was not the first Canadian news outlet to come under fire for Holocaust comparisons amid the pandemic.

Following backlash, prominent Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail this month removed an opinion piece that compared living under lockdown to the experience of teenage Jewish diarist Anne Frank.

Frank is posthumously known for documenting years spent in hiding with her family to avoid being apprehended by Nazis in the Netherlands. The Franks were eventually discovered, and Anne Frank died of typhus at a German concentration camp in 1945, when she was 15 years old.

B'nai Brith Canada also mentioned a woman in Vancouver, British Columbia who came under fire for selling T-shirts containing the yellow Star of David with the word "Covidcaust." While the slogan was pulled from her line of anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine apparel, she has continued using the term on social media.

COVID-19 protesters demonstrare in Vancouver, Canada
COVID-19 protesters hold banners and chant during a rally on April 26, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada. Andrew Chin/Getty Images