This post contains an image with graphic language and symbol
A poster in a Brooklyn subway station advertising a book about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and featuring an image of the Jewish jurist’s face, was vandalized this week with anti-Semitic profanity and a swastika.
The discovery of the vandalism led to condemnations of hate speech on Wednesday from leaders in New York, amid an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents there and around the country and a national conversation about the bounds of legitimate discourse addressing Judaism and Israel.
Scrawled in what appeared to be black marker over the face of the Supreme Court justice were the words, “Die, Jew b----.” Beneath the obscenity was a swastika.
The vandalism, which transit authorities said was reported Tuesday and since removed, appeared at the Nassau Avenue subway stop, in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. It marred an advertisement for a book about the Brooklyn native, “The Unstoppable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: American Icon.”
Ginsburg, 85, recently underwent surgery for cancer and returned to the bench last month after missing January arguments.
When she joined the Supreme Court in 1993, she became its first-ever female Jewish justice. She is now the high court’s longest-serving Jewish member. In 2015, she teamed up with a D.C. rabbi to release a feminist take on the Passover story. Her chambers are adorned with a framed command from Deuteronomy, meaning “Justice, justice shall you pursue.”
In a pair of tweets on Wednesday, the New York City Transit Authority’s Subway account said its crews had removed what it described as “abhorrent vandalism” and “hateful imagery” after authorities had collected evidence for an investigation.
“Again, we regret that our customers were exposed to this hate speech,” the transit authority said.
The New York Police Department said Wednesday that its hate crimes unit was looking into the incident.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) joined other city leaders, as well as New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), in condemning the vandalism.
De Blasio wrote on Twitter that Ginsburg “represents the very best of our city.” He pledged that whoever had defaced her image would be held responsible.
Jumaane Williams, New York’s public advocate-elect, lamented increasing instances of anti-Semitism “as bigots are emboldened in this time.” Cuomo said the state’s hate crimes task force stood ready to assist city authorities in their investigation.
De Blasio last month promised to wage “war on anti-Semitism,” responding to police figures showing there were 180 anti-Semitic incidents in the city last year, a 22 percent increase over 2017. The wave of anti-Semitic violence has buffeted Brooklyn in particular, where the windows of synagogues have been shattered and videos have circulated of Jews being beaten, chased and choked.
Nationwide, anti-Semitic incidents have also been surging, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which reported a 57 percent increase in incidents in 2017 — the sharpest year-over-year rise since the organization began collecting such data in 1979.