Georgia lawmakers condemn antisemitic flyers left in suburban Atlanta communities
Some metro Atlanta residents woke up Sunday to find disturbing antisemitic flyers on their property, and Georgia’s elected leaders spoke out Monday to condemn the groups who sent them out.
“As we begin this morning, I must take a moment to address a repulsive incident that occurred over the weekend,” said House Speaker Jon Burns. “Saturday night, under cover of darkness, communities in north Fulton County were visited by an old enemy – hatred. Sunday morning, families in these communities found antisemitic fliers in their driveways.”
“We pause this morning to reiterate that hate has no place in Georgia – no place in Georgia – none,” the Newington Republican added.
The flyers were dropped off in predominantly Jewish areas of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs and compare the Talmud with Satanism. They bear the logo of the Goyim Defense League, a group the Anti-Defamation League calls “a small network of virulently antisemitic provocateurs” who engage “in antisemitic stunts and schemes to troll or otherwise harass Jews.”
According to the ADL, Georgia is among the group’s most active states, and its record of hateful stunts includes using a laser projector to broadcast antisemitic messages on TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville during a football match between the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.
Dunwoody and Sandy Springs police have said they are investigating the flyers. Gov. Brian Kemp said state law enforcement is ready to help if needed.
“This kind of hate has no place in our state and the individuals responsible do not share Georgia’s values,” he said in a statement.
Sandy Springs Democratic Rep. Esther Panitch, the only currently-serving Jewish member of the state Legislature, found one of the flyers on her driveway.
Flanked by colleagues from both parties Monday morning, Panitch said the state has a role in helping.
“We can do something, especially here, and we must,” she said. “Please listen to the communities for the solutions they need. Do 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 am 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.”
Panitch is cosponsor on a bill that seeks to define antisemitism in state code for the purposes of anti-discrimination and hate crime laws. It would not criminalize distributing antisemitic flyers.
A similar bill passed the House last year but did not receive a vote in the Senate.
In a Monday speech in the Senate, Atlanta Democratic Sen. Sally Harrell said some of her constituents received the flyers on Sunday, but similar messages have been appearing around the state.
“There have been similar instances in many of your districts,” she said. “Newnan, Macon, Carrollton, Rockmart, Columbus, Cartersville. The white nationalist groups responsible for these actions seek to desensitize us to antisemitic rhetoric, yet we know that rhetoric often leads to violence. We cannot let them win. I hope that you will join me in standing with the Jewish community and denouncing these actions in no uncertain terms. Because hate, in any form, has no place in Georgia.”
An ADL report published last month found antisemitic attitudes in the U.S. are “widespread and likely increasing.”
Researchers found 85% of Americans agree with at least one anti-Jewish trope, up from 61% in 2019. They found 20% believe six or more anti-Jewish tropes, nearly double the 11% found in 2019.