Antisemitic flyer lands on Colorado Springs lawns

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Bags with fliers and rice distributed in Colorado Springs


When the Nazi Party was on the rise in pre-World War II Germany, Jews were demonized through images and stereotypes. The party used posters, museum exhibits and cartoons to portray Jews as synonymous with criminals, parasites and plagues.

The goal was to lay the groundwork for society to accept anti-Jewish laws, which ultimately led to the “final solution” — death camps where 6 million Jews were murdered.

But it’s 2022, 77 years since the Allies liberated the camps and won the war. Yet, antisemitism is rising. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports that “antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL.” That’s a 34 percent increase over the prior year and the highest number since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

Shooters have targeted synagogues and a banner with an antisemitic message was hung over a freeway in Los Angeles just recently.

A number of people raised their arms in a Nazi salute as they stood behind the banner, which was hung on a bridge over Interstate 405 on Saturday.

And now, antisemitism has once again found its way here. Evidence of that landed on the lawns and porches of Colorado Springs residents in the area around Vickers Boulevard and the city’s mid- and southern sectors in the last few days. Flyers vilifying Jews were inserted in plastic bags that contained a handful of rice, which is symbolic of those killed in the Holocaust. More on the flyers later.

For Paulette Greenberg, it was another reminder of the discrimination she experienced while a student on the south side of Chicago more than 50 years ago.

“I was one of three Jews,” she says of her school class of 186. “I couldn’t be a cheerleader because I was a Jew. I couldn’t join a sorority because I was Jewish.”

Greenberg, who runs the Greenberg Center for Learning and Tolerance in Colorado Springs, tells the Indy she spoke with a resident who found the flyer in his yard; he was disgusted by it.

Although police were contacted, Colorado Springs Police Department spokesman Robert Tornabene, senior public communications supervisor, says no report was filed.

“There was nothing threatening in the letter … which would rise to [a] criminal complaint,” he says via email, noting the flyers were distributed in the Gold Hill area, which covers the city’s center and south side.

The CSPD doesn’t track hate speech, he says, “because even though it is abhorrent, it is just that, speech.”

But the department does track hate crimes, which went down slightly in 2021 compared to the two prior years and are on track this year to drop even more, as shown by this chart:


According to state statute, hate crimes are those in which a person, with intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, knowingly causes bodily injury or by words and conduct knowingly places another person in fear of imminent lawless action directed at that person or that person’s property, and such words or conduct are likely to produce bodily injury to that person or damage to that person’s property, or knowingly causes damage to or destruction of the property of another person.

Local rabbis gave their thoughts on the rising incidence of hate crimes and vandalism associated with antisemitism for a cover story in the Indy last March.

Today, Temple Beit Torah Rabbi Iah Pillsbury called the flyers “really concerning” and a reminder that it’s important for the Jewish community to remain connected and remember it stands for love and making the world a better place.

Rabbi Jay Sherwood of Temple Shalom called the flyers and others he’s heard about part of “a well organized and well oiled hate campaign.”

“This is part of the situation in our country,” Sherwood says. “Hate speech and conspiracies are rampant. We do what we can to make our communities safe. While these are only fliers, they lead to more hate speech, which leads to hate violence. It’s up to the entire Colorado Springs community and the United States community to stand up and say, ‘This sort of thing is not acceptable in our communities.’”

As for Greenberg, she thinks the flyers and other acts that attempt to demonize Jews are “absolutely horrible.” (The Greenberg Center was founded in 2003 when Dr. David and Paulette Greenberg were presented with the Temple Shalom Humanitarian Award. “In recognition of their award, the Greenberg Center was established to promote learning, understanding and acceptance that honors the cultural dignity of all mankind,” according to its website.)

“I don’t understand the claim that Jews are controlling the media, controlling the banks. That’s not true. I think it’s very, very sad,” she says. “Whether Black, white, Jewish, Christian. It doesn’t make a difference. I still respect you. Antisemitism has been going on for centuries. I really don’t understand why we’re so disliked.”

As Naziism took root, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website says, “Nazi propagandists exploited pre-existing images and stereotypes to give a false portrayal of Jews. In this false view, Jews were an ‘alien race’ that fed off the host nation, poisoned its culture, seized its economy, and enslaved its workers and farmers.”

The flyers distributed in Colorado Springs followed the pattern of Nazi propaganda, which was designed to engender hostility toward Jews.

They portray images typically used to demean Jews. Ten photos of Walt Disney Co. executives are stamped on their foreheads with the Jewish Star of David and are deprecated as being associated with evil: “Every single aspect of Disney child grooming is Jewish,” the flyer states. That headline is flanked by a Jewish star on one side and the pentagram associated with devil worship on the other, both reflecting rainbow colors. The LGBTQ movement has adopted the rainbow as its symbol.

The flyer also carries the message, “Protect your children.”

Two Bible references are cited:

• John 8:44 is a verse from the New Testament in which Jesus is speaking to the Jews trying to convince them that he is God’s son, but the Jews don’t understand. Jesus tells them, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

• Revelation 3:9 is a verse from the last book of the New Testament and comes in a chapter in which Christ speaks of those who believe he is the savior being given eternal life. “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

The flyer then refers people to GOYIMTV.TV, the site of Goyim Defense League, which is considered a hate group and antisemitic conspiracy theorist network that’s staged demonstrations in other places, such as Brevard County, Florida, last December. The GDL also had a role in the banner incident recently in California, and its leader was recently arrested in Poland.

Paradoxically, the flyer has this statement in small type at the bottom: “These flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent.”

Scott Levin, Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Regional Director, says the flyers are nothing new and have popped up across the country. Often white supremacist groups seize on the issue of the day to catch attention, including COVID-19. “Disney is so pervasive in pop culture,” Levin says, explaining why the Disney name and images might have been chosen.

The goal, he says, is to spread hatred of Jews and also “drive people to their website in order to make money.”

Check out this map created by the ADL showing white supremacist speech and incidents the nonprofit tracks. It shows numbers for cities in Colorado and other states.

We’ve reached out to local synagogues and the Disney Co. for comment and will update if we hear back.

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