Anti-Semitic Flyers Contribute to Hate Against Jewish-Americans

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By: Nicole Knauer

 

The COVID-19 crisis has triggered many racist responses, with many targeting Asian communities. Asian-Americans have been assaulted, blamed for spreading the virus, discriminated against, and isolated within their communities. Now, a more recent outburst of racism has been redirected. This time it has affected the Jewish community. Anti-Semitic flyers were distributed among different neighborhoods all over the United States, ranging from from California to North Carolina. Residents of the affected communities woke up to find flyers left outside their doors, with the message “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish” and information within the flyers listing conspiracy theories as to how the Jewish community is responsible.

 

In the San Francisco Pacific Heights area, dozens of these flyers were scattered throughout the neighborhood, left in small plastic sandwich bags weighed down with rice. The flyers included names of health officials working with the Center for Disease Control who are Jewish and accused of overseeing the “agenda,” as well as conspiracy theories falsely stating that Jewish people are manipulating major institutions.  

 

The San Francisco Police Department responded to this hate crime by removing the flyers from affected homes, canvassing the scene for possible additional evidence, and authoring an incident report. 

 

District Two Supervisor of San Francisco Catherine Stefani tweeted in support of the local Jewish community that “I’ve been in touch with SFPD and intend to see these individuals held accountable. Our community has been terrified by the rise in hate crimes, and we must do everything we can to stand against it wherever it occurs.” 

 

Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Seth Brysk, is concerned with the recent rise in antisemitism, stating that “there is that link to spreading the lies, trying to intimidate and it can inspire violence and terroristic activity.” 

 

The flyers have only exacerbated the surge in anti-Semitism, which is at a four-decade high since 2019. In that time period, over 2,000 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment against Jewish people have taken place in the US, according to the information published in ADL’s annual audit. 

 

The community is especially disturbed by the flyers since it was only recently that four members at a Jewish synagogue in Texas were taken hostage as a display of anti-Semitism. 

 

On the weekend of Jan. 17, 2022, four Jewish-Americans were detained at gunpoint by Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year old British citizen. After enduring over 11 hours held at gunpoint, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, in an interview with CBS Mornings described his experience, “It was terrifying. It was overwhelming.”

 

On Saturday morning, Akram entered Congregation Beth Israel in the Fort Worth suburb of Colleyville, interrupting a live-streamed sabbath service, and took the rabbi and three elderly congregants hostage. After the involvement of hostage negotiators and over 200 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, the hostages escaped unharmed. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, utilizing previously learned training tactics of the CIA, threw a chair at the gunman and managed to free himself and the other hostages. All made it out unharmed.

 

With this outbreak of anti-Semitic hate, an ADL survey tracking Jewish-Americans’ feelings about their safety is very relevant today. More than half of the 538 people surveyed felt worried that a person wearing a yarmulke, a religious skullcap, or other public displays of Judaism would be physically assaulted or verbally harassed on the street or in a public place. One in four American Jews surveyed have avoided displaying markers of Jewish identification, including not using their last names, not wearing a Jewish star, or not stating that they are Jewish on social media. 

 

To prevent future hate crimes and strengthen community alliances and involvement, the United States Department of Justice recommends applying a community policing model, understanding and addressing the problem, inviting community groups to local schools, and creating public awareness of the existing harassment and hate crimes occurring in peoples’ communities. The ADL works to educate local law enforcement on hate crimes and appropriate responses, as well as avoiding discrimination in their fields, and is hopeful that they will find an alliance with the police force which will serve to benefit all people and all communities. 

 

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About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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20 thoughts on “Anti-Semitic Flyers Contribute to Hate Against Jewish-Americans”

  1. Ron Oertel

    Residents of the affected communities woke up to find flyers left outside their doors, with the message “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish” and information within the flyers listing conspiracy theories as to how the Jewish community is responsible.

    Is that, in fact an actual crime to distribute flyers claiming this?

    The San Francisco police department responded to this hate crime by removing the flyers from affected homes, canvassing the scene for possible additional evidence, and authoring an incident report.

    To charge them with what, exactly?

    1. Bill Marshall

      Residents of the affected communities woke up to find flyers left outside their doors, with the message “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish” and information within the flyers listing conspiracy theories as to how the Jewish community is responsible.

      Is that, in fact an actual crime to distribute flyers claiming this?

      It can lead to that, and has, historically…

      In the middle ages, Jews were blamed for the ‘disease du jour’, the bubonic plague… many were killed, more were driven out of their communities… rationale:  Jews got less plague than others… they were accused of poisoning community wells, etc.  Reality:  Jews observed stricter sanitary codes, so rats, the lice/fleas that transmitted the disease, were less in play… that was ‘word of mouth’…

      Jews were blamed for the defeat of the Germans in WWI… the Nazis spread that by word of mouth and ‘flyers’…

      Guess you don’t think that the middle ages pograms or the Holocaust were crimes… whatever…

      So, to answer your question, you need to ask yourself, if something encourages ‘crimes’, is it a crime?

  2. David Greenwald

    It is important to understand the difference between a hate crime (which is in fact a crime) and a hate incident, which this particular story falls under.

    This is from the California AG page:

    1. Bill Marshall

      No… the US Constitution does not “allow” hate speech… read it… SCOTUS decisions have determined that restricting ‘hate speech’, given the parameters they used is not unconstitutional… big diff…

      No, they (hate speech, if it can be defined, legally) can always be prosecuted… success on conviction, particularly on appeal, is a different matter…

      The US Constitution, as written (forget interpretations 200 years later) has no provision, explicitly, for “hate speech” as it might be defined at a given time…

      Poly Sci 10…

        1. Bill Marshall

          I guess you have not read the US Constitution… I guess my disagreement is with you, and what you purported as fact, based on your apparent affirmation of what you quoted from the AG…

          I stand by my assertion that it’s NOT in the Constitution, but based on ‘interpretations’ many years later… ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate crimes’ are neither found in the Constitution…

          Nice try on being dismissive of my comment, however…

        2. David Greenwald

          I didn’t purport anything as a fact, I simply cited the language from the AG’s directive on hate crimes/ incidents. (I guess I could point out as well that the guidance was written by attorneys who know case law as well as the law. That doesn’t necessarily make them write, but what they wrote is my understanding of the state of the law).

  3. Ron Oertel

    It is important to understand the difference between a hate crime (which is in fact a crime) and a hate incident, which this particular story falls under.

    Thanks.  The author does not seem to understand the difference, and is not alone in that mistaken belief.  There appears to be a widespread misunderstanding regarding what constitutes a “crime”.

    The referenced supervisor also does not seem to understand the difference.

    Perhaps there’s an underlying danger in not understanding the difference, as well.

    There’s other examples of this.

    This reminds me of the type of thing that the ACLU “used to” protect.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Perhaps they still do protect it, periodically:

      Censoring so-called hate speech also runs counter to the long-term interests of the most frequent victims of hate: racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. We should not give the government the power to decide which opinions are hateful, for history has taught us that government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them. As one federal judge has put it, tolerating hateful speech is “the best protection we have against any Nazi-type regime in this country.”

      https://www.aclu.org/other/freedom-expression-aclu-position-paper

    2. Ron Oertel

      This issue also reminds me of the “de facto” effort to censor “misinformation”.

      Seems to me that censorship efforts inevitably lead to more “hate incidents” and misinformation, rather than less. And pushes it underground, rather than out in the open. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this also resulted in facilitating mental health issues, for those attracted to it. And the real danger to all that results.)

      At least, in a “free” country.

  4. Alan Miller

    Antisemetic flyers were distributed among different neighborhoods all over the United States, ranging from from California to North Carolina.

    This is clearly an act of Hatred of Jews (I prefer this term because Antisemitism is oddly non- or even incorrectly-descriptive, considering the definition of a ‘Semite’.).  I say this because it is organized and widespread, and those are the acts that are scary and definitively hate.  I point this out because someone scratching “grout out the jews” between tiles in a Davis shower isn’t a comparable act and may just show an idiot or a drunk, not an act of Hatred of Jews, and we need not go into a tizzy about what could be a racist act unless it continues or is repeated to expose that there is a reason to be concerned.  I do consider an imam calling for the extermination of Jews, every last one, to be an act of Hatred of Jews.  But, hey, I guess that’s just me.

    Residents of the affected communities woke up to find flyers left outside their doors, with the message “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish” and information within the flyers listing conspiracy theories as to how the Jewish community is responsible.

    Yeah, those ‘Jews control the world and the money’ conspiracy theories.  We know those well.  My mom would point out if that were true, where was her share of that Jew money?

    The one time I’ve personally run into an actual Jew Hater (not just an idiot who spouted stupid things), this person was loudly proclaiming similar ‘Jews Control the World’ conspiracy claims loudly in a Coffee and Tea in Long Beach maybe a decade ago.  I yelled at him at the top of my lungs to take his racist ideas to the privacy of his home and his racist friends, but not to spew those ideas in a public place cuz you never know when a Jew might be around.  His friends escorted him out as he spewed more hate on the way out, and one of his friends came back to apologize for his friend’s behavior.  I could have been killed (he was much larger than me and skin headed), but at the time the only thing on my mind was ‘this cannot go unchallenged’.

    I’ve shared this story before, but it was one of the most significant moments of my life.

    More than half of the 538 people surveyed felt worried that a person wearing a yarmulke, a religious skullcap, or other public displays of Judaism would be physically assaulted or verbally harassed on the street or in a public place. One in four American Jews surveyed have avoided displaying markers of Jewish identification, including not using their last names, not wearing a Jewish star,

    This is really sad.  The only way to remain strong and united against Jewish Hate is to remain courageous as to our identity.  I understand the concern, but this is a cake walk compared to living in Israel.  Also, those who are targeted because of their skin color cannot hide by removing clothing and symbols.  My mom told me (in the 1960’s) that our family were civil rights activists in support of black people because Jews understood what it was to be considered ‘lesser’ and to have their people enslaved.  Thus, we should display courageously who we are, as our brethren cannot hide.  Neither should we try just because we can (kind of).

    or not stating that they are Jewish on social media.

    Are blogs considered social media?  Oops.

    1. Ron Oertel

      I do consider an imam calling for the extermination of Jews, every last one, to be an act of Hatred of Jews.  But, hey, I guess that’s just me.

      That’s because (like it or not), Jewish people are increasingly “lumped in” with “white” people.  You’ve seen an example of that in another Vanguard article, yesterday.

      As are Asians, and increasingly – Hispanics.

        1. Ron Oertel

          My mom would point out if that were true, where was her share of that Jew money?

          I love that quote.

          Reminds me of something else, as well – how chickens fight on their way to the slaughterhouse. (Someone told me something like that.)

        2. Ron Oertel

          To be clear, the “chickens on their way to the slaughterhouse” wasn’t a reference to Jews.  (Thought I’d better clarify this.) It was a universal / human comment in response to this:

          It’s the crabs at the bottom pulling escaping crabs back into the pot mentality.

    2. Ron Oertel

      Eventually, everyone will use “white supremacist thinking” to get ahead, to paraphrase a San Francisco school board member.

      Or, “Jewish supremacy thinking, Asian supremacy thinking . . .”

      Even though the very systems that they use to do so are “systemic racist” systems.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Eventually, everyone will use “white supremacist thinking” to get ahead,

        Actually, one of the few groups that don’t seem to get ahead are white supremacists, themselves. 

        (Seems to me that most of them don’t, and are usually on the lower rungs of the socio-economic class.)

        Apparently, “systemic racism” isn’t working so well, for them – despite their skin color.

        1. Alan Miller

          This ‘model issue’ or ‘jews control the money’ or ‘smart Indian’ thing are really as obnoxious as any other form of racism – assuming someone is elevated in wealth or IQ simply by their race.  A lot of people in these groups aren’t, and then may be looked askance upon for not meeting the expectations of their race!  And, by elevating one race, you automatically are putting others down.

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