Taipei Jewish Center responds to controversy over Nazi flags in betel nut shop

Taipei Jewish Center calls for removal of Nazi flags, rejects 'stereotyping of the people of Taiwan'

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Original photo taken by Nathan. (Image from Instagram)

Original photo taken by Nathan. (Image from Instagram)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In response to the controversy over photos posted of Nazi flags hung in a betel nut shop in Taipei City, The Chabad Taipei Jewish Center today issued a statement calling for the removal of the banners, while also rejecting the stereotyping of Taiwanese people.

On Jan. 6, an American photographer expressed his outrage on Instagram over Nazi flags posted in betel nut shop in Taipei's Wanhua District, but he faced such a backlash from Taiwanese netizens that he is planning on leaving Taiwan for good. When asked by an Apple Daily reporter why he posted the Nazi flags in his store, the owner of the shop said he had no plans of taking the flags down saying, "The Nazi flag is a work of art, there is not political intent."

In response, The Chabad Taipei Jewish Center today expressed its regret at yet another instance of Nazi paraphernalia being used in Taiwan. The document then quoted a section from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) New Year's Day speech in which she said, "In our rapidly changing world,Taiwan's best option is to persevere on the path of democracy, and work together with like-minded people around the globe.”

The authors highlighted the commendable emphasis Taiwanese society has placed on human rights, and reasoned that because "the first step to protecting human rights is to respect others," the betel nut store owners should also respect the Jewish victims of the Nazis and remove the banners.

The organization thanked the photographer for bringing attention to the use of the Nazi symbols, however, because they believe that "communication, understanding and acceptance are the basis for cross cultural understanding," they "reject the stereotyping of the people of Taiwan." The statement advised that some of the critical generalizations made by the photographer about Taiwanese society could "only create further mis-understanding and hate."

In closing, the authors drew a parallel to the ongoing work for transitional justice among repressed Taiwanese groups and the Jewish community, and emphasized their desire to work in unison across cultures and religions to contribute to Taiwan's prosperity, democracy, and freedoms.

Germany's Federal Foreign Office also responded to the controversy by citing a German diplomat in the Foreign Ministry as saying:

"Using Nazi symbols is a despicable act of offense against the victims of the Holocaust. We call upon everybody using Nazi signs to immediately remove those symbols."

The following is the complete statement issued by The Chabad Taipei Jewish Center:

In recent years this association has repeatedly issued public statements to
condemn the use in Taiwan of the Nazi flag which symbolizes the murderous
Nazi regime, as such use is extraordinarily hurtful to the Jewish people. We
regret to see yet another incident of the use in Taiwan of the Nazi swastika,
regardless of whether it is used by stores as decoration, worn by young people,
or in political paraphernalia.

On New Years Day, President Tsai Ing-wen said “In our rapidly changing world,
Taiwan's best option is to persevere on the path of democracy, and work together
with like-minded people around the globe.” The high value that the people of
Taiwan put on human rights and democracy has attracted worldwide attention,
and the first step to the protecting human rights is to respect others. Accordingly,
we call on the Wanhua store owners who display the Nazi flag to understand
that even if no ill will is intended, their display of the Nazi flag is an
extraordinarily disrespectful act towards the Jewish victims of the Nazis and
towards human rights in general.

With regard to the American individual who criticized the people of Taiwan,
while we thank him for bringing this matter to the public’s attention, we believe
communication, understanding and acceptance are the basis for cross cultural
understanding, and thus we reject any stereotyping of the people of Taiwan and
his comments on social media reported in the press such as “Taiwan still didn't
get the memo about what has happened in past history. Absolute cluelessness.”
Such words can only create further mis-understanding and hate.

In recent years Taiwan has worked hard to bring about transitional justice and
unity across ethnic groups, and Taiwan is generally accepting of and open to
different cultures and religions. We, along with our members who are long term
residents of Taiwan and work to contribute to Taiwan’s prosperity, our thankful
for this. We hope that we can all respect our differences while working together
to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and freedoms.


The Chabad Taipei Jewish Center
Rabbi Shlomi Tabib
Chairman Ross Darrell Feingold

The following is the same statement issued by The Chabad Taipei Jewish Center in Chinese:

儘管本協會再三公開譴責宣揚納粹標誌是一種張揚納粹暴行並加深
猶太族群傷痛的舉動,我們仍然很遺憾看到納粹標誌一再在台灣被
使用。無論是商家作為店面擺設、年輕人穿戴上身、或被運用為政
治宣傳等行為。

蔡英文總統在今年元旦發言:「全球局勢瞬息萬變,堅持走民主的
道路,和世界上理念相同的人攜手同行,就是我們臺灣最好的選
擇。」台灣對人權與民主抱持的高度價值在國際間有目共睹,而守
護人權的第一步是尊重他人。所以我們在此呼籲懸掛納粹旗的店家
能試著瞭解,宣揚納粹旗幟或許是出於無心之過,但對於被納粹迫
害的猶太人民及其人權而言,是非常有失尊重的行為。

此外,對於在此新聞事件中強力抨擊台灣人的美籍人士,本協會感
謝他提醒民眾懸掛納粹黨旗之舉有失恰當,但我們相信族群間的和
諧是基於相互溝通、了解、並建立認知,因此我們並不認同他以偏
概全批評台灣人「未曾從歷史吸取教訓」、「無知」等言論,我們
認為相濡謾罵只會造成更多的誤解與仇視。

近年來我們也看到台灣在轉型正義與族群融合上的努力與發展,基
於台灣普遍對文化與宗教的多元接納與包容,本協會偕協會成員們
得以在台灣安居立業,本協會對此深表感謝,並期許我們能共同維
護差異之間相互尊重的民主自由社會。

發文人:社團法人臺北市可巴德猶太協會
理事長 方恩格 (Ross Darrell Feingold)
教士Shlomi
撰文:古達圓