MANHATTAN – Fliers bearing anti-Semitic imagery from the Holocaust taped up on buildings along Second and Third Avenues are the latest, disturbing actions of anti-vaccination activists on the Upper East Side— drawing a false equivalency between proof-of-vaccination requirements at bars and restaurants announced this week and the yellow Star of David patches used by the Nazi’s to identify jewish people in Germany.
At least two of the fliers— one of which appears to be a meme printed from Facebook— were posted on a vacant storefront on Third Avenue next to Luke’s Bar and Grill and on a MTA Second Avenue Subway building at the corner of East 83rd street and Second Avenue in Yorkville.
“I just saw the yellow star and I’m a Jew and was very upset,” Emily told Upper East Site after discovering the signs taped-up on buildings while walking through the neighborhood. “It’s anti-Semitic.”
Anti-vaccination activists have used holocaust or anti-Semitic imagery in previous demonstrations— including swastikas during a march in Central Park last month— to legitimize their unfounded feelings of persecution for choosing not to get vaccinated for Covid-19, which disregards their own safety, the health of others and potentially prolongs the pandemic.
In this case, one of the anti-Semitic anti-vaccination fliers uses disinformation to link the Covid-19 vaccines with human experimentation and the Nuremberg Code— referencing examples from the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
The 2010 non-fiction book raises questions about the ethics of using cells in medical research derived from a fast-growing cancerous cervical tumor sample taken from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman seeking medical care in Baltimore in 1951, without her consent.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, which cultivated and distributed what’s known as the HeLa cell line—referenced in the anti-Semitic flier— says there was no system for this type of consent at the time and use of cell samples for medical research was common practice.
The flier also references Henrietta Lack’s daughter Elsie—misidentifying her as a “Henrietta’s sister”— who the book says was the victim of human experimentation on while institutionalized before her death.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “what does any of this have to do with the Covid-19 vaccine?”
It doesn’t. These fliers are both anti-Semitic and spread misinformation straight from social media to Second Avenue.
Covid-19 vaccinations are done under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency use authorization— to voluntary recipients— and the Pfizer vaccine is widely expected to receive full approval next month.
Upper East Site reached out to the NYPD to determine if the fliers had become pervasive on the Upper East Side, but police say they have not received any complaints.
For Emily, just spotting the offensive fliers left her feeling unnerved.
“It was just sort of stunning to see,” Emily said of the anti-Semitic fliers. “It’s hate propaganda.”