(JTA) — A Jewish deli owner in suburban Chicago has come under fire for a High Holidays catering menu that featured a cartoon of a Trump-like figure giving the Nazi salute.
The menu, protesting the “alt-right,” was posted on the Max’s Deli Facebook page on Aug. 23, but only began to gain notice Thursday.
The cartoon figure wears a military uniform, a Nazi swastika armband and a T-shirt that reads “I’m With Alt-Right.” The figure’s blonde hair is evocative of President Donald Trump.
A post accompanying the menu reads: “Here’s a hard question: what do they really mean by Alt-Right? I’ll tell you what they really mean … Nazi.”
The post, which references the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, also reads: “Look how easily we pretend nothing’s happening. Or the problem is Steve Bannon instead of Donald Trump.”
Deli owner Greg Morelli posted an apology on Friday, a day after several news stories by local media.
Under the heading “Atonement,” the post read in part: “3 Little Words. I Was Wrong. To those of you who called, who reached out, who saw me against the ropes, who offered a hand instead of a fist, L’Chaim! To those of you who bashed, who reacted without thinking, who fed on the indignation of others, who threatened my business, L’Chaim!”
It also read: “We’re all in this. We’re all still here. Trump is still president. This might surprise you, but I don’t want Impeachment. I don’t want Censure. I don’t want President Pence. I want a robust conversation. Then in the next election, I want the vote to show us who we really are. I want us to own it!”
Morelli, 49, said he does not regret speaking out, but added that being trashed on Facebook hurt.
Some commenters on Facebook praised his gesture, others attacked his politics and still others said that Nazi imagery on a Jewish deli menu is not appropriate under any circumstances.
Morelli, who owns the Highland Park diner with his brother, told the Chicago Tribune that his business was flooded with calls after the image made the rounds on Facebook and in the media, and that his family is “done with him.” He said he hopes the incident will not force the deli to close down.
Morelli also posted menus on Facebook in recent days featuring a Statue of Liberty wearing a T-shirt reading “I’m With Kaepernick” in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who remains a free agent following his public protest of the national anthem. Another features Moses wearing a T-shirt reading “I’m With Charlottesville.”
He told the Chicago NBC affiliate that he was afraid not to speak up during this moment in history.
“I’m a Jew. I cannot pretend, in this movement, that I’m not afraid — but I’m also afraid of being afraid I’m not going to go quietly on a train,” he said.