The entire Newburyport city council as well as the city’s mayor discovered antisemitic postcards in their mailboxes at their homes over the weekend.
“It was a shocker to get it,” said Bruce Vogel, whose 14-year run on city council ended this week. “Mostly very disquieting because it came to my home.”
The postcards, which appear to have come via USPS from California, have a cartoon caricature of a Jewish man that has been widely used in antisemitic propaganda, as well as words on the front and the back referencing hate speech about Jews and white supremacist beliefs, and the line “the Holocaust never happened, but it really should have.”
When the postcards came in the mail, some city councilors immediately reported to the police, the local Human Rights Commission, and the local synagogue so they were aware of the issue.
“I was a little taken aback,” said Afroz Khan, a current city councilor, who initially wondered if she was targeted. “I have a name, and I have a presence in our city as being a Muslim voice. You know my family, we are practicing Muslims and that is something when I was running that the papers always made a point to point out – so part of me at first was like, is this something just I was getting?”
This isn’t the first time Newburyport government has been targeted since the Israel-Hamas war began in October. Twice in October, city council meetings were “zoom bombed” with people yelling racist slurs. Plus, antisemitic mailings have been sent to City Hall.
Mayor Sean Reardon isn’t sure why the small North Shore city seems to be a target. “We are a very welcoming community, so I think for people who have intolerant views, maybe they see us as the enemy? I’m not sure,” he said. “Am I concerned? Sure. I think any time rhetoric like this is ramping up you’re concerned about the people in your community, and I think especially our Jewish members who just went through Hanukkah, and again have been targeted so much…” he said.
The mayor confirmed police are investigating the mailings. Each postcard was identical, and it’s not clear if they have been sent to other communities locally or nationally.