The umbrella group that represents Alaska’s museums declared its support on Tuesday for the Alaska Jewish Museum (AJM) that has been targeted with anti-Semitic vandalism during the past year.
Museums Alaska noted that twice in 2021, the AJM has had swastika stickers placed on its doors of in the museum.
In May, a man was caught on a security camera plastering Nazi stickers on the AJM, which is located in Anchorage.
After the second incident, Museums Alaska “worked with museums across the state to show the AJM that they are not alone.”
State museums and historical societies signed on to a statement of solidarity with the AJM.
“We will not ignore this spiteful act and we will work together to educate Alaskans about the diverse communities that have shaped Alaska,” Museums Alaska said in a statement.
The AJM and Jewish advocacy organization StandWithUs have partnered to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandal.
“There are over 100 museums in the state of Alaska founded and managed by people who have a passion for sharing the history and many different cultures of Alaska with residents and visitors,” Alaksa Museums director Dixie Clough said. “Alaskan museums are appalled by the attacks, and they are eager to show support for the Alaska Jewish Museum and the Alaska Jewish Campus as they seek to address these crimes and ensure the safety of their facilities and community.”
A state-wide Zoom call was held with Alaskan museums to show solidarity with AJM museum curator Leslie Fried.
“There has been an increase in anti-Semitic behavior in Anchorage over the past few months, and we saw a role for museums as community educators to stand up against these hateful acts,” Clough said. “We want to ensure that the museum attacker is brought to justice, and that the Alaska Jewish community knows that they are not alone. They have support across the state.”
Museums Alaska’s statement of solidarity said: “We are deeply disturbed by the recent attacks of anti-Semitic vandalism that the Alaska Jewish Museum has experienced in Anchorage.”
Museums Alaska and its members “stand in solidarity” with the AJM and Fried and offered their “support as the museum seeks to address these crimes and ensure the safety of its facilities and community.”
The statement continued: “This vandalism is an attack on all of us and the inclusive Alaska history our institutions were founded to tell. History reveals that malicious acts increase during uncertain times, and they flourish when encouraged or ignored by people in leadership positions. We will not ignore this spiteful act and we will work with the Alaska Jewish Museum to combat bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.”
They stressed that education is key to ending hate crimes, and that museums have a role to play in “lifelong learning.”
“We will continue to strive to reach community members we don’t know with our programming because it is those individuals and groups who may benefit the most from respectful dialogue about Alaska’s history and peoples,” Museums Alaska said. “Together we stand steadfast in our support of the Alaska Jewish Museum and affirm our intent to combat acts of hate against our museum community.”