Hoboken Zoning Board member Nancy Pincus apologized for an illustration that appeared to compare city council member and fellow Democrat Beth Mason to a Nazi.
The illustration, which appeared on Pincus’ blog the day after Election Day, featured Mason, who is Jewish, in a poster based on one created for the notorious Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.
Pincus, who is also Jewish, was unhappy that her candidate for city council, Mike Lenz, was defeated by Timothy Occhipinti and blamed his loss on Mason, a political rival.
The controversy echoed beyond Hudson County after it drew the attention of the National Jewish Democratic Council, which condemned the illustration in a Nov. 17 press release.
“Sadly, this is another example of an office holder invoking the Holocaust to attack their political opponent,” according to the NJDC statement. “While the vast majority of such examples have stemmed from today’s conservative movement and from Republican candidates, elected officials, and activists, it is always wrong to engage in such rhetoric.”
Etzion Neuer, New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, also weighed in on the graphic.
“It is in extremely poor taste, and using Holocaust imagery in political discourse is extremely inappropriate,” he told NJ Jewish News in a Nov. 18 phone interview. “It cheapens the Holocaust and it is another example of the terrible erosion of political discourse in this country.”
When NJJN informed Pincus of his criticism, she became contrite.
“I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart to anyone out there who was offended. It was not my intent,” she told NJJN in a Nov. 18 interview. “My dad’s side of the family was murdered by Nazis in Warsaw. There was no conscious decision of producing something that was Nazi or fascist.”
Neuer told NJJN he “welcomed and accepted Ms. Pincus’ apology.”
“I appreciate her initiative to make clear that she now understands why her image was so hurtful. I hope this incident will serve as a teachable moment that will help convey why anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and the use of Nazi analogies must stop,” he said.
Earlier, Pincus had defended her blog.
“I am a Jewish artist, and I am being targeted,” Pincus told NJJN. “I am not a propagandist. I consider myself a satirist. I am a stay-at-home mom, and the blog is something I do for fun. I am not shy about expressing what my feelings are.”
She blamed unnamed opponents for publicizing her public blog post.
“I think the people who brought this to the media’s attention are people who are doing this for other reasons. I think it is political,” she said. “The backlash for me personally has been devastating. I do a lot of good things for people in my city, and this is having a serious effect on everything.”
In the illustration, Mason, wearing a medallion with Occhipinti’s face, appears above the words “Triumph des Shillens,” written in the same German gothic typeface used in the film poster. Further, Pincus’ post refers to Occhipinti’s victory as the “Triumph of the Shill.”
“I think it is inappropriate all over. The images used go against our whole Jewish community,” Mason said in a Nov. 18 telephone interview. “The sensitivities of World War II veterans and people in and outside our Jewish community are totally disturbed by this. I am at a loss for words.
“Pincus is an elected official who represents the city of Hoboken. Having this kind of image out there is a disgrace. This takes it outside of reasonable discussion.”