The fence outside the Michigan vacation home of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan and one of the nation’s most prominent Jewish political figures, was spray-painted with the word “Nazis.”
Emanuel was not at the cottage at the time.
“Our family is very proud of how our friends, neighbors and the community have rallied to our support and in a singular voice in condemning hatred and bigotry,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times in a text message.
Emanuel, who was in Chicago on Sunday, said he also wanted “to thank the local law enforcement for their diligence, swiftness and seriousness in which they have addressed this crime.”
The incident comes amid rising antisemitism and Islamophobia, spiking in the U.S. as the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza enters its second month. The war was triggered by the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas fighters who are based in and have controlled Gaza.
The New York Times, citing the Gaza health ministry, reported on Sunday 12,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, with the Israeli military operation ongoing. The Hamas-controlled ministry does not separate out the deaths of civilians and combatants. The Israeli Defense Forces said 1,300 were killed in Israel in the Oct. 7 attack, with about 240 hostages taken to Gaza, where they remain in captivity.
The defacement at the Emanuel property came to light when the head of a homeowners organization in the small lakefront community of Gordon Beach in southwest Michigan sent a message to residents Friday informing them “of an upsetting incident.”
“A hate crime occurred against one of our neighbors, where an anti-Semitic word was spray painted on a property,” board president Tom McNulty told the Gordon Beach Homeowners Association, representing a community in Union Pier, Michigan, about 70 miles from Chicago.
The letter noted that local police “came out and confirmed there was no other damage to the property and no sign of breaking or entering. The homeowner arranged to have the offensive language removed.
“… We in Gordon Beach condemn this hate crime, as well as the national increase in intolerance, bigotry and criminal activity based on hate. Gordon Beach does not tolerate prejudice, bigotry, racism, hatred or violence, and we encourage anyone who has experienced an act of hate to report it to the Berrien County Police.
“Gordon Beach has a history of being an accepting community for all peoples. We are welcoming to all neighbors and will continue to be a safe space where a love of nature, the beach, and kindness are core values,” McNulty added.
David Goldenberg, the Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Sun-Times, “We are disgusted by the antisemitic vandalization of Ambassador Emanuel’s home.
“Hate crimes affect not only the victim, but an entire community,” Goldenberg said. “Thus, we appreciate the homeowners association naming this an act of antisemitism and urge law enforcement to investigate this as a hate crime.”
Neo-Nazis march in Madison
Last Tuesday, a massive rally on the National Mall in Washington, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was intended to show unity with Israel in its war against Hamas, push for the return of Hamas-held hostages and denounce rising antisemitism.
On Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin, a group of demonstrators waving swastika flags marched near the Wisconsin state capitol.
The ADL, an organization devoted to “combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry,” said the estimated 20 demonstrators are part of a neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe.
“Blood Tribe’s goal is to normalize the swastika, usher in a resurgence of Nazi ideas and ultimately build a white ethnostate occupied, controlled and led by Aryans,’” the ADL said.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in a statement called the demonstrators part of “a white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization. To see neo-Nazis marching in our streets and neighborhoods and in the shadow of our State Capitol building spreading their disturbing, hateful messages is truly revolting.”
Gov. JB Pritzker on MSNBC: Trump fuels hate
In an interview Sunday on MSNBC’s “Inside With Jen Psaki,” Gov. JB Pritzker, who like Emanuel is among the most prominent Jewish political figures in the country, said former President Donald Trump and “some MAGA extremists” are using rhetoric “that was used in the 1930s in Germany.”
He was alluding to Trump — the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — referring to his political opponents as “vermin.”
“What I can tell you is that the things that he talks about are frightening to those of us who know the history of Europe in the 1930s and ’40s,” Pritzker said, referring to the Holocaust.
Pritzker brought up Wadea Al Fayoume, the 6-year-old Palestinian American from Plainfield who police say was stabbed to death by his landlord because the boy was a Muslim. The suspect, police said, had listened to conservative talk radio about the Israel-Hamas war.
“This young boy, killed, murdered, because someone had been radicalized by right-wing radio and right-wing television; that’s something we all need to pay attention to,” Pritzker said.