Anti-Jewish Flyers Upset Community
"We need your help. We've had enough. We hope you have, as well," Rep. Panitch tells her Georgia House colleagues.
Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.
On Monday morning, even before the prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, a stern-sounding speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives addressed what he termed “a repulsive incident” over the weekend — the distribution of antisemitic flyers in the driveways of homes in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.
“Saturday night, under the cover of darkness, communities in north Fulton County were visited by an old enemy: hatred,” Republican Rep. Jon Burns said. “I know all of you join with me in taking such actions very seriously…We pause this morning to reiterate that hate has no place in Georgia,” prompting the chamber to rise in applause.
Without mentioning her name, Burns said that one of the driveways “littered with this garbage” was that of a member of the House. Jewish Democrat Esther Panitch posted Sunday on Twitter that her husband found three plastic bags with differently-worded flyers in the driveway when he went outside Sunday morning to bring in the newspaper.
“Welcome to being a Jew in Georgia-my driveway this morning. @SandySprings_PD came and took for testing. Govern yourselves accordingly, GDL and Anti-Semites who seek to harm/intimidate Jews in Georgia. I’m coming for you with the weight of the State behind me,” Panitch posted.
The Judiciary Committee of the Georgia House currently is considering legislation that would adopt a formal definition of antisemitism and “require state agencies and departments to consider such definition when determining whether an alleged act was motivated by discriminatory antisemitic intent.”
Police in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs are investigating the flyers, which were placed in baggies, weighted down with corn kernels, and flung into driveways in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday. In a Twitter post, Gov. Brian Kemp, said: “If needed, state law enforcement stands ready to assist @SandySprings_PD and @DunwoodyPolice in their investigations.”
Panitch, who is a criminal defense attorney, said that distribution of the flyers may violate statutes on trespass and littering, depending on the municipal code in individual cities.
The flyers are similar to those distributed previously elsewhere in the Atlanta area, in Georgia, and throughout the nation by a group calling itself the Goyim Defense League. In previous months, similar flyers have appeared in Cobb, Bartow, Muscogee, and Paulding counties.
The Anti-Defamation League describes the Goyim Defense League as “a loose network of individuals connected by their virulent antisemitism.”
Among the messages on the flyers was “Every Single Aspect Of The Jewish Talmud Is Satanic.” Another stated: “We disavow violence. This is not intimidation. This is a PSA about a Jewish mafia that has hijacked our country!” Another claimed: “ADL. Established in 1913 to protect Jewish child murderers and pedophiles.”
Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch posted Sunday on Twitter: “The purpose of activities like this is to cause fear and divide us…I stand with our Jewish community and all who face intolerance. I believe that love always conquers hate. Please be good to each other.”
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul posted on his Facebook page: “Overnight, some despicable individual(s) flyered our community with anti-Semitic, hate-filled material. I trust it came from outside Sandy Springs, but whoever is responsible is unwelcome here. We are a tolerant community, but this behavior is intolerable. Our city renounces and rejects this activity and the individuals behind it. We are checking our security cameras in an effort to identify the culprits and if legal charges are possible, they will be brought.”
Eytan Davidson, regional director for ADL Southeast, said in a statement: “The trend of flyers like this being distributed is a longtime tactic of white supremacists and is happening with great frequency across the country. In fact, last year incidents like this occurred roughly 150 times in Georgia alone.
“Flyers like the ones discovered early Sunday morning aren’t meant to target individuals; rather they are meant to intimidate and scare entire communities. Those who distribute such hateful filth may be exercising their right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean law enforcement can’t and won’t investigate these actions and the people and groups behind them. It’s important for officials to speak out forcefully when hatred like this crops up so community members and neighbors know they aren’t alone,” Davidson said.
The homes reporting finding the flyers included residences near the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and Congregation Ariel, which is located on Tilly Mill Road.
The website roughdraftatlanta.com reported: “Several Dunwoody residents reported that their surveillance cameras picked up a white four-door sedan vehicle throwing the flyers from the vehicle between 1 and 2 a.m. on Feb. 5. One resident said that several flyers were left in their little free library box.” The website also reported that about 50 were found behind St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church on Mount Vernon Road.
Among those finding flyers was Valerie Chambers, the Hillel campus director at Kennesaw State University. “Two families got together and picked up all the flyers we could find,” she told roughdraftatlanta.com. “We didn’t want anyone, including kids or older residents, getting upset seeing them.”
“Unfortunately, I see this kind of stuff all the time,” Chambers said. “It’s not my first rodeo, but it is even more upsetting when it’s right in front of your home.”
House Speaker Burns also mentioned that a member of the news media who covers the legislature also received the flyers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter Greg Bluestein, who is Jewish, said Sunday that one of the baggies was thrown onto his property.
Later in the Monday session, a visibly upset Panitch, flanked by several of her colleagues, addressed the House chamber. “This weekend, it was my turn to be targeted. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time to be afraid as a Jew in the United States,” she said.
Panitch listed a series of antisemitic incidents in the United States and Georgia before saying, “And then, flyers on driveways and in mailboxes of hundreds of Jewish families in DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Paulding, and Muscogee counties, I get angry. Because it doesn’t end with that. It continues, for injured and murdered Jews in their synagogue. Poway, Jersey City, Monsey, and in Pittsburgh, in the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States history.”
“The flyers we received demonized Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture. They’re filled with the classic antisemitic tropes about Jewish power and control. They came from a group famous for their outright antisemitic lies and Holocaust denial. Their twisted conspiracy theories, claiming that Israel was responsible for 9/11, and that Jews and Zionists run our government. Their stated goal is to destroy us, kill Jews, wipe us off the face of the earth. We can do something, especially here. And we must. Please listen to the communities for the solutions they need, not dismiss them. Do not tell them it won’t matter or it’s not necessary. Hear them. We need your help. We’ve had enough. We hope you have, as well. We know you stand with the Jewish community. We know you stand with the Jewish people against hate in Georgia. I’m heartened by all the love and support I have felt this morning. We all know, it might be the Jews today, but the same people will come after you tomorrow.”
The flyers we received demonized Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture. They’re filled with the classic antisemitic tropes about Jewish power and control. They came from a group famous for their outright antisemitic lies and Holocaust denial. Their twisted conspiracy theories, claiming that Israel was responsible for 9/11, and that Jews and Zionists run our government. Their stated goal is to destroy us, kill Jews, wipe us off the face of the earth. We can do something, especially here. And we must.
Statements of support for the Jewish community came from across the political spectrum in Georgia.
Democratic Sen. Nabilah Islam responded to Panitch’s Sunday morning Twitter post: “I’m so sorry you woke up to this. Antisemitism has no place here or anywhere. Those responsible must be held accountable.”
Democratic Rep. Farooq Mughal also replied to Panitch on Twitter: “I stand with my friend and fellow Georgia State Representative @epanitch. Antisemitism has no place in America and #Georgia. Farheen and I stand with my Jewish brothers and sisters against despicable #antisemitism in Fulton/Dekalb.”
Democratic Sen. Josh McLaurin, whose district is in north Fulton County, posted on Twitter Sunday: “The fringe cowards who put antisemitic trash in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody driveways don’t speak for the community. Like the vast majority of the area, I stand with our Jewish neighbors and am glad that the pamphlets are being investigated.”
Republican Sen. Jason R. Anavitarte posted on Twitter: “This is despicable, and my hope is law enforcement and prosecutors will deal with the trash that brought this to your front door and those impacted.”
Republican Rep. Will Wade posted on Twitter: “This is truly sickening and I truly hope those responsible are found out and brought to justice. This behavior has never been okay and never should be accepted! Hatred & antisemitism is abhorrent and antithetical to the core values of Georgia & [emoji of U.S. flag].”
- Dave Schechter
- Pledge of Allegiance
- antisemitic flyers
- Georgia House of Representatives
- Sandy Springs
- Jon Burns
- Esther Panitch
- Judiciary Committee of the Georgia House
- Gov. Brian Kemp
- Goyim Defense League
- Anti-Defamation League
- Lynn Deutsch
- Rusty Paul
- Eytan Davidson
- Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
- Congregation Ariel
- Valerie Chambers
- Greg Bluestein
- Nabilah Islam
- Farooq Mughal
- Josh McLaurin
- Jason R. Anavitarte
- Will Wade