‘The Monetization of Hate’: US Neo-Nazi Group Distributes Antisemitic COVID-19 Propaganda Across The Country During Weekend Campaign
A virulently antisemitic group with a reputation for mounting propaganda stunts staged what one expert on extremism described as a “surge of incidents” over the past weekend in eight different states across the country.
Private homes in California, Texas, North Carolina, Idaho, Vermont, Alabama, Illinois and Florida were targeted with antisemitic leaflets proclaiming the COVID-19 pandemic to be a Jewish plot.
The leafleting was carried out by supporters of the so-called “Goyim Defense League (GDL)”, a neo-Nazi group that has carried out several similar stunts over the last year in several cities, pushing antisemitic COVID-19 conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial. The words “goy” and “goyim” are pejorative terms in Hebrew and Yiddish for non-Jews.
Carla Hill — associate director of the Center on Extremism of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — told The Algemeiner on Monday that the weekend’s “surge of incidents” had been sparked by a promise from the founder of the “GDL”, Jon Minadeo Jr., to send $100 of merchandise to any supporters who engaged in propaganda distribution. Minadeo is also the founder of an online merchandise store called “Goyim Gear” which deals in t-shirts glorifying Adolf Hitler, the Waffen SS and other individuals and groups lionized by white supremacists.
“It’s purely and simply the monetization of hate,” Hill said.
Hill explained that the group’s method was to tour different parts of the US staging high profile incidents which are filmed and shared with “GDL” supporters through various platforms, including the group’s video streaming channel and its channel on the Telegram app. The videos are accompanied by appeals for donations. The group has organized tours in California, Texas and other states involving small convoys of supporters bearing signs such as “The Jews Want a Race War,” “Vax the Jews” and similar epithets.
Despite the fact that the “GDL” is a “small network of individuals,” Hill said that the group’s voice is “much louder because it has thousands of supporters.”
The group “spreads hateful propaganda and harasses the Jewish community just so they can get attention online,” she said. “The more egregious the behavior, the more money they raise.”
Several Jewish communities in the areas targeted over the weekend spoke out defiantly against the “GDL.”
In Greensboro, North Carolina, where local police are investigating antisemitic COVID-19 leaflets that were distributed in the city’s Cornwallis Drive area, Jewish leaders said that multiple residents had received “a vile piece of antisemitic hatred.”
“It seeks to spread antisemitic, blatantly false, and evil conspiracies about the Covid-19 virus and our nation’s efforts to combat its spread,” a joint statement from the Temple Emanuel and Beth David synagogues and the Greensboro Jewish Federation declared. “We are not the first community in which this has happened. Our hearts go out to all those who have received this disgraceful propaganda.”
In Boise, Idaho, the same leaflets were delivered to homes in different neighborhoods of the city. One resident told local CBS News that the leaflets were packaged in a bag full of pellet gun ammunition and dropped off on porches or stuck upon fences.
The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, a tolerance education NGO based in Boise, said the provocations over the weekend showed that the “rise of antisemitism in the valley is both sickening and alarming.”
“Etched in the stone of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, we are reminded of [German Pastor] Martin Niemoeller’s warning, ‘In Germany they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew, then they came for me.’ As a community we must speak up — then take serious action to confront hate speech,” the center said in a statement.
And in Pasadena, California, where leaflets asserting that “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish” were distributed in the early hours of Sunday morning, local leaders were united in condemnation. “The distribution of antisemitic fliers in Pasadena and other southern California communities over the weekend is abhorrent and totally goes against the values of our city and its residents,” Mayor Victor Gordo said in a statement.
The ADL’s Carla Hill observed that the overarching goal of the “GDL” was to carry out propaganda activities in order to maximize online awareness of the group.
“It’s all done to press buttons and make minorities feel threatened in their own communities,” she said. “That’s why it’s always good for the community to speak out.”