Bethlehem, PA – During the public comment portion of Bethlehem City Council’s meeting Wednesday night, resident Arthur Curatola took the podium to address statements that he was antisemitic.
Throughout his public comment, he discussed what he called “militant Jews” and the cultural makeup of the members of Murder Inc., a well-known crime syndicate from the early 20th century.
Curatola also announced his bid for city mayor in 2025.
This was not Curatola’s first public comment. At a Bethlehem City Council meeting on Dec. 6, 2022, he said that “Christmas City” residents should be “honoring and respecting the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
Among his December remarks about Jews, Chinese, and Native Americans, Curatola said, “Jesus Christ sold more books and movies than any Jewish leader or any leader in the world, ever.” He encouraged Bethlehem residents to “honor the words and wisdom of this great man who is a great philosopher who we know as Jesus Christ, even though he was a Jew.”
Mayor J. William Reynolds spoke Wednesday about the normalization of antisemitic comments in his report.
“Part of the reason we’ve seen those types of ideas gain some public normalization is that many people have decided the best way to get past them is to ignore them,” Reynolds said.
“When we hear them, [we have to] find a way to make it clear that we do not accept them… and make sure it is not normalized in this society that that type of behavior is OK,” he said.
Council President Michael Colón echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“I’ve been on City Council for, this is now my eighth year, and I’ve sat through a lot of public comments… but using historical stereotypes and using inflammatory language,” Colón said, “I don’t know what the motivations are [but] if you’re looking for sympathy or support, it’s not coming from anyone sitting up here.”
Colon added that in Bethlehem, “Everyone should be able to move about freely in search of peace and joy just like we all do. To face attacks in a public forum is unfair.”