Local Jewish leader calls for better education amidst anti-Semitic meme

TIVERTON, R.I. (WLNE)– An anti-Semitic meme posted Friday by the Atlantic Sports Bar in Tiverton has sparked an overflow of outrage across Southern New England.

The meme shows a photograph of Anne Frank, with writing over it referencing the hot weather, saying, “It’s hotter than an oven out there… and I should know.”

Anne Frank is most well known for her journal as a Jewish, Dutch girl at the height of the Holocaust. She died in a concentration camp.

“You know, it’s shocking and at the same time it’s not shocking,” said Wendy Joering, executive director of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center. “I literally got the chills when I saw it. It makes me wonder what the type of people post things like this, and what type of person created that.”

Joering and the education center teach lessons and stories across Southern New England from the Holocaust, to curb antisemitism in the future.

One worker told ABC 6 News that the employee who posted the meme was unaware of who Anne Frank was.

“It’s clearly not being taught enough, and it’s not mandatory in every state. There are different things like memes, social media, and Holocaust deniers — different things that go on that people aren’t taught, aren’t taught about it. Then, they might find something at an older age and go down a path of hatred and antisemitism,” she explained.

The Anti-Defamation League reports a 42% increase in anti-Semitic incidents this past year in New England.

The restaurant released a statement Monday, saying: “The team here at The Atlantic wants to issue it’s sincerest apologies for a deeply insensitive post shared by our account on 7/22. The post was poorly thought out and we realize that it was incredibly inappropriate and does not reflect our values as members of our community. There is no excuse for the sharing of this post, and there is nothing we can do to rectify it, all we can do now is offer our deepest apology to those who were rightfully hurt by our actions. The Atlantic Restaurant prides itself on being a tolerant, inclusive and safe space for all people. We love and respect all of our incredible customers and members of our larger community, irrespective of their religion, race, creed, sexuality or gender identity. Moving forward we will be vigilant in vetting all social media posts to ensure that nothing like the events of this past week ever happen again. We appreciate the outpouring of support, as well as the outpouring of rightful criticism, this will certainly be a teachable moment for our team. Thank you again for allowing us to serve our community, doing what we love – we hope that with time we can regain the trust of those who we’ve hurt and move forward, as a better, stronger and more sensitive organization.”

Joering addressed those involved in the post, saying, “Educate yourself. Educate your staff. We are a resource. If you don’t want to come to us, go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Do your part to make this world a better place, and educate yourself and spread kindness. That’s what I would tell them.”

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