Antisemitic Flyers Distributed In Dozens Of U.S. Cities In Recent Months

Antisemitic flyers have shown up outside the homes of hundreds of people in cities across the country in recent months — another manifestation of the increase in antisemitic incidents nationwide.

Over the past three months, antisemitic flyers have been distributed in dozens of cities across 19 states, from Texas to California to Florida, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which has been tracking the hateful propaganda.

This past weekend alone, hundreds of flyers were papered across neighborhoods in nine states, including in Berkeley, in Northern California, as well as in Colleyville, Texas, where a gunman held Jewish congregants hostage at a synagogue for hours in January.

This comes after flyers were reported found in San Francisco, Miami and Denver in late January.

Carla Hill, an expert on hate propaganda with the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said that a fringe antisemitic and white supremacist group — the Goyim Defense League — is likely behind the flyers, which have been found similarly packaged in sandwich bags with the same messaging across cities.

Flyers dropped in front of hundreds of homes in Napa, California, near Congregation Beth Shalom on Wednesday night had antisemitic conspiracy theories printed on them. One flyer read, “Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish.” It went on to name Jewish staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as at other health and finance companies.

Another flyer read: “Every single aspect of the Biden administration is Jewish,” and included photos of Jewish members of the executive branch and the White House.

One of the flyers (falsely) had written across the bottom: “These flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent.”

Antisemitic fliers distributed around Napa, California, earlier this week.  (Photo: Hardy Wallace)
Antisemitic fliers distributed around Napa, California, earlier this week. (Photo: Hardy Wallace)

The spread of antisemitic messages is part of an increase in antisemitic hate seen in the U.S. in recent years. The ADL’s tracking of antisemitic incidents found that in 2020, there were more than 2,000 antisemitic acts of assault, vandalism and harassment, the third-highest year on record for such incidents since the group began tracking in 1979.

Some local police have investigated the flyers and been in touch with the FBI.

The FBI did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Hill cautioned that this kind of tactic can be hard for law enforcement to respond to, since it often falls under free speech. Unless it targets a synagogue or only Jewish residents’ homes, it can be hard to prosecute as a hate crime.

“We’ve seen some charges of littering, but that’s a fine,” Hill said. “I’d just hope that community leaders will rally around the community and call this out: say this is a fringe group with a small number of people that have an outsize impact through propaganda.”

In Berkeley, city council member Susan Wengraf wrote to her constituents on Monday, mentioning the hundreds of residents who were “shocked to find plastic sandwich bags on their doorsteps filled with hateful antisemitic messaging,” and condemning the “small, fringe white supremacist” group behind it.

Hardy Wallace, a resident of Napa who came across the flyers on a Thursday morning run in his neighborhood near Congregation Beth Shalom, said the messages are “not welcome in this community.”

“As a resident of Napa, we can not be quiet when members of our community are targeted or threatened,” said Wallace, who is not Jewish but said he “stands with and supports” his Jewish neighbors and friends. “As citizens, we need to speak out and take action against anti-Semitism, racism, ignorance and hate.”

A local activist group, the Rainbow Action Network, is organizing a “chalk for justice” event this weekend in Napa in response to the antisemitic flyers “to speak up against hate towards our Jewish community members and ensure that inclusion is louder and stronger than the hate.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.