Anti-Semitic leaflets could inspire action against proposed Georgia law

ATLANTA (AP) — A sustained wave of anti-Semitic leaflets hit parts of the Atlanta suburbs, including the home of Georgia’s only Jewish lawmaker.

State Rep. Esther Panitch, a freshman Democrat from Sandy Springs, denounced the flyers from the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday as dozens of colleagues surrounded her to show their condemnation.

“This weekend it was my turn to be targeted,” Panitch said. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that a Jew in the United States has felt fear.”

The flyers were found in driveways in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody on Sunday, wrapped in plastic bags and weighed down with corn. The police in both cities announced that they would start investigations.

Similar flyers were recently found in other Georgia communities, including Acworth, Cartersville, Columbus and Kennesaw. People have also reported anti-Semitic leaflets in other cities across the country.

Panitch swore action. She is co-sponsoring a House Bill 30 that would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s “working definition of antisemitism” as Georgian law. In short, it defines it as a rhetorical or physical manifestation of hatred toward Jews. This includes “targeting the State of Israel,” although it also states that “criticism of Israel similar to criticism of any other country cannot be considered anti-Semitic.”

Such a definition could lead to increased penalties for anti-Jewish crimes under Georgia’s 2020 Hate Crimes Law. Proponents say that too often authorities do not respond vigorously enough to anti-Semitic acts.

“We must please listen to communities to find the solutions they need,” Panitch said. “Don’t dismiss her. Don’t tell them it doesn’t matter or isn’t necessary. hear her We need your help. We have enough. We hope you have too.”

There is no evidence that the flyers are related to the proposed law or that Panitch was specifically targeted. Some of the affected neighborhoods are near a Jewish community center.

The flyers brought a wave of condemnation, including from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. The Republican said state investigators would assist local police if needed.

“This kind of hatred has no place in our state and those responsible do not share Georgia’s values,” Kemp said on Sunday.

A Goyim Defense League flyer referred to Leo Frank, a Jewish factory executive convicted of murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked at an Atlanta pencil factory. Researchers believe Frank was wrongly convicted. Frank was kidnapped from a Georgia prison and lynched in Marietta in 1915 after a governor commuted his death sentence to life.

Panitch said she and her family had previously encountered anti-Semitic acts, including swastikas painted on her daughter’s dorm at the University of Georgia and anti-Semitic messages projected at last year’s Georgia-Florida football game, which two of her children attended participated.

“I get angry because it doesn’t end there. It goes on with injured and murdered Jews,” Panitch said.


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