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Outrage soars as swastikas fly outside synagogues and Disney World

U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that “terrorism rooted in white supremacy” is the greatest threat within America today.

Protesters, including those belonging to neo-Nazi groups, hold swastika flags outside a synagogue in Georgia. Credit: Combat Antisemitism Movement.
Protesters, including those belonging to neo-Nazi groups, hold swastika flags outside a synagogue in Georgia. Credit: Combat Antisemitism Movement.

Two weeks after the Pittsburgh synagogue terrorist was convicted on June 16 of killing 11 Jews and only days after Nazi flags were flown outside Disney World, neo-Nazis held hate rallies outside two Georgia synagogues on Shabbat. Venomous demonstrators held Nazi flags, stood on top of an Israeli flag and yelled anti-Jewish messages.

The Nazi swastika sends a chilling message of hatred and persecution to the Jewish community. When Nazi flags are brazenly displayed outside of synagogues, white supremacists instill fear and anxiety within minority communities that were systemically murdered just because of who they were. It is a painful reminder of the historical persecution Jews have endured and the persistent threat they now face in America. The swastika is a symbol forever linked with the horrors of the Holocaust.

Worshipper Stewart Levy described the rally as terrifying: “Antisemitism at my synagogue. I am shocked, absolutely shocked to see this here. The most frightening thing I have seen in my 65 years.” The neo-Nazis are affiliated with a known hate organization that is part of a network that routinely engages in shocking displays of antisemitism.

The Goyim Defense League is an anti-Jewish hate group that harasses Jews and spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories in local neighborhoods and on the Internet. The group is led by a few organizers but has dozens of supporters and thousands of online followers who celebrate the attention that their antics earn them.

The GDL’s rallies often don’t draw many people but it uses its online channel to stream its actions and disseminate anti-Jewish content to supporters. The Internet allows neo-Nazi networks to facilitate the dissemination of extremist ideologies, provide platforms for recruitment and allow extremists to coordinate and share violent tactics.

One of the GDL’s consistent tactics is distributing anti-Jewish fliers in neighborhoods across the country. Nearly every week there is at least one report of fliers alleging another Jewish conspiracy theory. The fliers are distributed on people’s cars and doorsteps. The GDL often targets areas with a sizeable local Jewish population.

Sometimes GDL leaders are arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, public disturbance or littering. GDL leader Jon Minadeo II was arrested in Georgia on a Friday evening—he smiled for his mug shot—then led a rally in front of yet another Georgia synagogue on Saturday.

A few months before, the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement rallied outside the Broadway musical “Parade,” stunning theater-goers and throngs of tourists. The play portrays the true story of American Jew, Leo Frank, who was falsely convicted of murdering a 13-year-old Christian girl in Atlanta in 1913 and then hung by a lynch mob.

Democratic and Republican politicians have spoken out against the recent acts of hate. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) forcefully stated: “Georgia’s Jewish community will never be intimidated by antisemitism. Today, as symbols of genocide are paraded in front of synagogues, we continue to stand strong, proud and unbowed.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted: “There is absolutely no place for this hate and antisemitism in our state. I share in the outrage over this shameful act.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that “terrorism rooted in white supremacy” is the greatest threat within America today, according to the recently released U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. It also noted that “white supremacy, prejudice and bigotry, and conspiratorial thinking have fueled antisemitic discrimination and violence throughout American history.”

The Ku Klux Klan targeted not only African-Americans but also Jews—starting in the late 1800s and continuing today—viewing them as threats to their vision of white supremacy. The KKK and GDL propagate similar conspiracy theories about Jewish influence.

In the 1930s, American white supremacists looked to Adolf Hitler’s Germany for inspiration. The German American Bund held rallies; more than 20,000 Americans attended a Nazi rally at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The Bund promoted Nazi propaganda, intimidated Jews and sought to spread anti-Jewish sentiment among Americans.

The American Nazi Party emerged in the 1960s, followed later by the Aryan Nations and the White Aryan Resistance. From the KKK to today’s neo-Nazi groups, these extremists all perpetuate hatred, conspiracy theories and discrimination against American Jews. White supremacist propaganda in America soared to an all-time high in 2022, according to the ADL.

Points to consider:

  1. The Pittsburgh synagogue massacre proves the white supremacist threat is deadly.

The Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., synagogue attacks serve as haunting proof that the white supremacist agenda is undeniably real. These heinous acts targeting innocent worshippers exposed the deep-rooted hatred and extremism fueled by extremist ideologies that don’t stop with words and flag-waving. The continuing attacks and demonstrations across the country shatter the illusion that hate groups do not pose a severe threat. Social media allows a few hate-mongers to influence thousands. The assaults against American Jews revealed the stark reality that neo-Nazi ideology continues to thrive, posing a significant threat to society. Americans must acknowledge that these ideologies are not isolated incidents but part of a larger, interconnected network that spreads its poisonous messages online and offline.

  1. White supremacists use public stunts for publicity and fundraising.

White supremacists have increasingly resorted to attention-seeking stunts to gain publicity and fund their hateful causes. Recent incidents—demonstrating with Nazi flags outside synagogues and even at family-friendly locations like Disney World—exhibit their tactics of provocation and disruption. These acts of hate are intended to incite fear among American Jews and attract media attention. Although only a handful of neo-Nazis participate in these events, the shocking displays amplify their extremist messages, serve as recruitment tools and gain financial support. These stunts are not isolated incidents but part of a broader strategy to spread ideologies of hate and division.

  1. Silence is complicity: Hate that goes unchallenged festers.

Silence in the face of hatred is not just indifference but a dangerous endorsement that promotes prejudice and discrimination. When hate against Jews isn’t aggressively faced down, it spreads and intensifies. Unchallenged hatred fosters a climate of fear, exclusion, and eventually, violence. It is crucial to speak out and reject the underlying biases and stereotypes that fuel anti-Jewish hatred. By standing up against all forms and acts of antisemitism—whether by two people or 2,200—a powerful message is delivered that hate has no place in the U.S. Complacency must be rejected. American Jews deserve to live without fear and to fully participate in a free society that promotes tolerance and respect.

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