The sign outside of Clifton Hookah on Main Street bears a swastika and a photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Hitler-styled mustache.
A photo of the sign was shared on by StopAntisemitism.org on Twitter, which called it a “vile comparison deemed Antisemitic by the [International Holocaust Remembrance Association].”
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said it is “both shocking and saddening to witness such ignorance in a city that celebrates diversity as its greatest strength and attribute.”
“Prejudiced thinking or action in our community is absolutely deplorable,” the mayor added. “I have alerted the proper authorities for adequate recourse.”
Whether government can legally censor a private business was open to question, however.
Either way, the sign stays, store employee Liz Mart.
Mart cited the “irony” of Jewish people who at one point were “wiped out” by the Nazis have become the “new” Nazis trying to “wipe out” Palestinians.
“We’re doing the right thing by keeping the sign up,” she told Daily Voice. “We have it up to keep conversation [on the Israel-Palestinian conflict] going.
“We’re pro-life. People justify killing off human beings — we’re just pro-life… and there is nothing political about being pro life.”
StopAntisemitism.org posted of a video of someone who identified herself as a store employee defending the sign at the shop. Mart told Daily Voice it wasn’t her.
Sorry not sorry our signs are not coming down,” the woman in the video says.
“We all truly stand on ‘free Palestine’ until it’s free completely and we’re also against the Israeli occupation and terrorism,” she said.
Garfield resident Ayah Dimaya, for one, thinks the sign sends the wrong message.
“I understand what it’s like to be treated badly for just being who I am,” Dimaya, who is both Muslim-American and Palestinian, told Daily Voice, “so I would never agree with the mistreatment of any other group of people.
“Within every group of people there are individuals who make decisions that shouldn’t be a reflection on who the whole community is, or the whole group of people,” she said.
“I don’t agree with insisting hate or violence. I don’t see how doing that could benefit humanity as a whole,” Dimaya added. “I definitely don’t agree with using hate symbols like the swastika.”