In response to several “disappointing and disturbing” instances of anti-Semitic posters and fliers distributed in Monmouth County in recent months by white supremacist groups, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey has launched a special campaign to raise $100,000 to counter hate.
The latest incidents occurred over a week’s time in mid-August when fliers from the Loyal White Knights of the KKK were found in three Red Bank locations. One of the fliers stated, “Once again Americans believe all the stupid lies the Jewish media tells them to believe.” Some fliers were left in bags on driveways while others were distributed throughout the neighborhood in goody bags that also contained candy.
One flier showed an American soldier being directed by a stereotypical Jewish caricature with a hooked nose and holding a flag with a Star of David. It stated, “Join the U.S. Army and fight for Israel.” On the side it proclaimed, “Stop fighting in wars for Jew lies and fight a real war to save your race.”
Some fliers also targeted gays and ethnic, racial, and religious minorities.
The funds from the federation’s new campaign would be used to provide more effective interventions to counter hate and bullying in schools and to provide resources before such incidents occur; additional bias prevention programs for law enforcement, teachers, and students at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education at Brookdale Community College; and for continued expansion of security initiatives, including helping synagogues and other Jewish institutions become more prepared in the face of growing threats, according to federation CEO Keith Krivitzky.
“All our efforts in combating anti-Semitism and dealing with hate and security issues have used funds coming out of our core budget, so now we said we would create a new targeted fund to enable us to continue and expand this effort even further,” said Krivitzky. Not only does the federation hope to expand its efforts with law enforcement, but also “to leverage and expand work being done with interfaith clergy to do more work around hate, bigotry, and anti-Semitism” and to encourage people to be a part of the “Stand Up for the Other” campaign which demands an individual pledge not to stay silent when hate is directed at others because of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
As of Aug. 22, just over two weeks since its launch, the fund had already raised $20,000, according to Krivitzky.
The initial impetus to create such a fund first came up in early June after anti-Semitic fliers from another white supremacist group, the Stormer Book Club, were placed on Long Branch utility poles. The fliers showed a hand holding an American flag and waving a finger at a stereotypical caricature of a Jew, with “Back to Israel, Jews” written underneath. Several of the posters were found on Second Avenue, a block away from where Chabad of the Shore is building its new headquarters. Krivitzky said the launch of the campaign coincidentally coincided with the latest incident in Red Bank.
In August 2017 fliers headlined “Hate Facts with Hitler” were found in Asbury Park from the organization Vanguard America, which bills itself as a group for “White Nationalist American youth working to secure the existence of their people.” The same fliers had been found taped to doors around Princeton University’s campus, including the entrance to the Center for Jewish Life in May 2017. Vanguard America is also believed to be responsible for hanging a banner with an anti-Semitic slur in front of a Holocaust memorial at a Lakewood synagogue last summer.
Evan Bernstein, regional director of ADL New York/New Jersey, said the fliers were part of a “broader phenomena.”
“We’ve been seeing an uptick in these incidents in northern and central New Jersey in the past month and a half,” he said. “We’ve been seeing it on college campuses and various towns around the area by these white supremacist groups. They are not only targeting Jews. All these incidents are part of a broader pattern we’ve been following and we’re pretty worried about it.”
Bernstein noted that, though offensive, as long as no one was hurt and property was not destroyed, the fliers are considered protected speech covered by the First Amendment.
“While people may feel threatened by the material, in and of itself it is not a criminal offense,” he explained. Rather, “it is a political statement.”
Even so, Bernstein said the Red Bank fliers were the first he’s seen in this latest six-week spurt “that are so specific, and the imagery is so disturbing.”
Red Bank Police Chief Darren McConnell said the fliers were found on Leighton and Hudson avenues, and Harding Road.
Among the fliers was one condemning the new Spike Lee film, “BlacKkKlansman,” based on the true story of an African-American detective and his Jewish colleague who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. The flier stated, “More Jewish Lies from Hollyweird.”
McConnell said although the fliers were not criminal, there is an ongoing investigation in cooperation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, as well as other county agencies and the state police.
The fliers listed telephone numbers — police officers called and reported hearing recordings of “rambling KKK propaganda.” McConnell called the appearance of the fliers “disappointing and disturbing.”