Legislator accused of anti-Semitism

Last modified: 1/11/2011 12:00:00 AM
State Democrats are accusing a Republican state representative of anti-Semitism and of distorting history.

Hudson Republican Rep. Jordan Ulery said his critics are misinterpreting his comments.

In Sunday's New Hampshire Union Leader, Ulery was asked about a bill he proposed that requires that any shop with signs in any language other than English to also post signs in the six official languages of the United Nations: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. Ulery said he was trying to ensure people have a shared culture and a shared language.

Ulery continued with a reference to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

'When you establish a ghetto, you're leaving yourself open to what happened to the Jews in Eastern Europe because you're setting yourself up to be different,' Ulery said.

Asked to expand on his comments by Fox News, Ulery said, 'What I was trying to convey is when you do not participate in your society around you, and when you become different, you become subject to what the Nazis did to the Jews.'

The state Democratic Party sent out a release condemning Ulery's comments and asking Republican leaders to call on Ulery to resign his House seat and end his candidacy for a post on the Republican National Committee.

'To say (the Holocaust) was the fault of Jews who were forced into ghettos is repulsive,' Joe Foster, a former state senator from Nashua, said in the press release. 'Representative Ulery's abhorrent anti-Semitic comments have no place in New Hampshire and must be immediately denounced.'

Katrina Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and a former Democratic congressional candidate, said she does not believe Ulery is anti-Semitic. But, as the daughter of the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, Swett said she is upset by Ulery's understanding of history.

'He is implying in his comments that somehow Jews established ghettos to separate themselves from the culture around them, which is a terrible misreading of history,' Swett said. 'Jews were forced into ghettos as a result of the tremendous anti-Semitism and persecution they suffered by the society around them.'

Swett said European Jews did contribute to their society through science, literature, music and religious writings. But they were then marginalized and forced into ghettos as a result of bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism.

'The impression being given is in some way the Jews chose to be isolated, in ghettos, chose to be excluded from society,' Swett said. 'Nothing could be further from the truth.'

Ulery told the Monitor his comments were misunderstood. Ulery said he was making the point that when a population is separated or 'balkanized,' it is seen as different and falls victim to discrimination.

'There was no indication whatsoever that the Jews were at fault for anything,' Ulery said. 'That's just an absolutely obscene suggestion.'

Ulery said he intended to say the Nazis forced Jews into a ghetto - which resulted in further discrimination against the Jews.

'The Nazis were responsible for it, not the Jews,' Ulery said.

Ulery said he lived with a Jewish family in Vermont for a year and is not anti-Semitic. But he acknowledged that he should have stayed away from the 'highly incendiary' reference to the Holocaust.

(Shira Schoenberg can be reached at 369-3319 or sschoenberg@cmonitor.com.)

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