Neo-Nazi Leader of ‘Goyim Defense League’ Arrested in Georgia
The leader neo-Nazi of a group calling itself the “Goyim Defense League” (GDL) was arrested during an antisemitic demonstration staged outside a synagogue in Bibb County, Georgia, last Friday.
Jon Minadeo, a 40 year old Florida native, was charged with disorderly conduct and public disturbance, according to a local CBS affiliate. Throughout the demonstration he shouted obscenities outside Temple Beth Israel while his followers put up a balloon depicting a gay Jew being lynched. He was later released, the station added.
GDL has organized similar rallies across the US, engaging in provocateur style protest aimed at garnering public attention to the antisemitic conspiracies it promotes. In February, GDL crashed the Daytona 500 speedway race, holding up signs that said, “Henry Ford was right about the Jews” and “Communism is Jewish.” That same month, one of its members, 41 year old Canadian citizen Robert Wilson flashed on the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam an offensive message alluding to a conspiracy which claims that the pen Anne Frank used to write diary entries was not invented during World War II.
The previous year, both Wilson and Minadeo were photographed standing at the gates of Auschwitz while holding signs that mocked the Holocaust and attacked Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
The group staged a separate protest on Saturday at which Minadeo, with its members brandishing Nazi flags outside Chabad of Cobb County.
Rabbi Ephraim Silverstone of Chabad told a local Fox affiliate that seeing neo-Nazis outside his synagogue was “very disturbing,” explaining that many congregants have relatives who died in the Holocaust.
The neo-Nazi demonstrations continue a historic rise in antisemitic activity across the US, where it increased by 36 percent in 2022.
The ADL recorded 3,697 incidents that year — ten per day — the highest ever since the group began track them in 1979. Incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault all spiked by double digits and occurred most frequently in New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas, which accounted for 54 percent of the ADL’s data. New York had the most, with 580 incidents. One incident resulted in a fatality.
“What’s unfolded in Georgia this weekend is the latest stunt by an antisemitic network that trolls Jewish communities — spreading propaganda, conspiracy theories and hate,” ADL Southeast regional director Ethan B. Davidson said on Monday. “Thank you to those who have spoken up in solidarity.”
Liora Rez, CEO of StopAntisemitism, a nonprofit which monitors antisemitic hate crimes across the world, said on Monday that she “calls on the Georgia legislature, and state legislatures around the country, to adopt IHRA and pass bills that give law enforcement the tools to prosecute people like Minadeo for their harassment and intimidation of Jews and other minorities.”
Footage of the incidents went viral on social media over the weekend, prompting responses from Georgia state officials.
“There is absolutely no place for this hate and antisemitism in our state,” Governor Brian Kemp (R) tweeted on Sunday. “I share in the outrage over this shameful act and stand with Georgians everywhere in condemning it. We remain vigilant in the face of these disgusting acts of bigotry.”
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Cupid also issued a statement addressing the need to balance free speech rights with the public good.
“I recognize the constitutional right to freedom of speech may allow these expressions of beliefs,” she said. “Still, we should also recognize that these actions impair our sense of community when all should feel safe and welcome here.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.