Mailboxes at about a dozen homes in Sandy Springs were stuffed with antisemitic flyers on Friday, July 15, distributed by a known antisemitic group, the Goyim Defense League (GDL). [Note: goyim is Yiddish for gentile or non-Jew, often used in a disparaging way.]
The same group is thought to be the source of antisemitic flyers that appeared on cars in the Lakewood Heights neighborhood of South Atlanta in February.
According to Liora Rez, executive director of the watchdog group StopAntisemitism, the GDL has been responsible for placing flyers in a growing number of cities around the country over the last few years. StopAntisemitism confirmed the GDL’s role in at least 20 incidents in 2021 that included the distribution of flyers, graffiti, banner drops and harassment. That number has probably doubled this year, it says.
“Jews in Sandy Springs should not be subjected to such ugly antisemitic vitriol,” Rez told the AJT. “How is it possible for GDL to continue to spread hurtful antisemitic misinformation across the country, canvassing neighborhood after neighborhood, hitting Sandy Springs with its antisemitic hatred … and remain unstopped?”
She told the AJT that Sandy Springs may have been targeted because of its prominent Jewish population, noting the location of several Jewish day schools and synagogues in the city.
Rez said that her group believes the GDL has a handful of leaders, dozens of members and thousands of online followers throughout the country, with California and Florida sustaining the largest number of attacks.
Jessica Weinstein, associate regional director of the Southeast office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said, “As far as the reasoning for targeting Sandy Springs, we feel that the virulently antisemitic people behind these flyers will distribute them anywhere they have people willing to assist with spreading these flyers targeting the Jewish community, with the intent to intimidate and project an image beyond their actual scope.”
After being notified of the flyers, the ADL contacted the Sandy Springs Police Department.
“We ask people to report to the police and to ADL” if they receive any antisemitic flyers, Weinstein said.
She acknowledged that the ADL is particularly concerned about the flyers in Sandy Springs because it’s a “Jewish area.”
But she pointed out that the number of flyers distributed throughout the country is increasing. In Georgia, in addition to Sandy Springs, antisemitic flyers have been distributed in Buckhead, Atlanta, Cartersville, Columbus, Evans, Savannah and White so far this year.
Weinstein added that the ADL “is trying to figure out why this area. It’s troubling because there’s a rise in the Southeast region” of antisemitic incidents. In fact, the Southeast region, comprised of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, saw a 74 percent increase in antisemitic incidents last year. Georgia saw a whopping 133 percent increase, or 49 incidents in 2021 — more than double the 21 incidents reported in 2020.
In the U.S., the ADL reported an all-time high of antisemitic incidents last year with a total of 2,717, including assault, harassment and vandalism.
Rez said that her group has followed the GDL for the last four years but noted a particular increase during the pandemic. She called them “zealots, pranks and publicity stunts.”
In fact, Weinstein suggested that the GDL not even be named in the press to rob them of the publicity.
The flyers vary in subject, but the objective is the same: to caricature the perceived power of Jews in various industries.
The flyer Sandy Springs resident Steven Berne found in his mailbox, discovered by his wife, named 10 alleged employees of Disney and included headshots featuring Stars of David on their foreheads.
Others found flyers with headlines reading “Every Single Aspect of Mass Immigration is Jewish,” with names and Star-of-David headshots.
Last April, one flyer distributed by the GDL declared that “Every Single Aspect of the Media is Jewish” and displayed the names and photographs of prominent Jews in the news and entertainment business. As the AJT reported then, some of the people included are no longer alive. Another flyer, discovered in April, claimed that “Every Single Aspect of the Ukraine-Russia War is Jewish.” The flyers state their authors as Goyim TV, which is associated with the GDL.
“They have a horrible obsession with Jews,” said Rez. “They like to pit Jews in controversies” such as abortion, COVID, immigration and gun control, she said. “The problem is that these can so often lead to violence. These aren’t just words. And we feel they aren’t being given enough credit.”