WASHINGTON — A Washington state lawmaker apologized Thursday for wearing a yellow Star of David on his shirt during an event last weekend where he spoke to conservative activists.
In a brief statement, state Rep. Jim Walsh said, “I apologize for using a profound image in a way that was inappropriate and offensive to so many people. It was wrong. It won't happen ever again.”
A video posted to Walsh's Facebook account on June 26 shows him in a church basketball gym speaking to an audience with a microphone and a yellow Star of David affixed to his shirt.
Walsh, a Republican who has served in Washington’s state legislature since 2016, told The Seattle Times that he had been given the star by someone at the event and that most people in the audience were also wearing yellow stars on their clothing.
Some of the organizers are “deeply concerned about vaccine passports and vaccine segregation,” he told the newspaper, suggesting that the yellow stars were a way to protest Covid-19 vaccinations.
The video remains up on Walsh's Facebook account despite his apology, and in response to a person asking if he was using the yellow star to make a point, Walsh wrote in the comments, “It’s an echo from history,” he said. “In the current context, we're all Jews.”
One commenter responded, "this is repellent and a total misunderstanding of Holocaust history."
Another wrote, “Love your star! nice statement A great way to show solidarity.”
Walsh then responded, “During WWII, when the Nazis told the Danes that Danish Jews had to wear yellow stars, the Danes ALL wore yellow stars. So the Nazis couldn't ID the Danish Jews. It worked. The Nazis focused their evil efforts elsewhere.”
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., says that story is “fictional” and that “unlike Jews in other countries under German occupation, Jews in Denmark never wore an identification mark such as a yellow star.”
The Nazis required that Jews in many countries wear a yellow star that said Jew in the local language so that they could be identified. According to the Holocaust museum, the badges were “a key element in their plan to persecute and eventually to destroy the Jewish population of Europe.”
Walsh's remarks come as antisemitic incidents in the U.S. have dramatically increased over the last year. The Anti-Defamation League said it recorded 251 incidents from May 11 through the end of the month, a 115 percent increase over the same period in 2020.
Meanwhile, freshman U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., compared mask-wearing requirements at the Capitol to the Holocaust. She later apologized after she said she visited the Holocaust museum.