Monday, August 15, 2022

(Faygie Holt/JNS) The Jewish community in Austin, Texas, is responding to several instances of anti-Semitism in recent days as graffiti was found outside a local high school on Friday, followed by an antisemitic group unfurling a banner and giving the Nazi salute on an overpass near the Jewish community center.

On Saturday afternoon, a member of the antisemitic Goyim Defense League stood atop a highway overpass not too far from the Dell JCC, saluted and unfurled a banner that read “Vax the Jews.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Goyim Defense League “is a small network of virulently antisemitic provocateurs,” and their “overarching goal is to cast aspersions on Jews and spread antisemitic myths and conspiracy theories.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on social media, “I am heartbroken to see anti-Semitic hatred in Austin, a welcoming and respectful place. Hatred of any kind has no place in our city.” He urged people who “see or hear” antisemitism to report it to the ADL.

In response to the incident, a letter signed by leaders of the local Jewish federation, ADL and area synagogues, said, in part, “We understand this is extremely upsetting and unsettling. We are always vigilant in monitoring anti-Semitic groups and work closely with law enforcement to share information about their activities. This group’s goal is to attract attention by being as offensive as possible.”

“The Austin Police Department is aware, has been incredibly supportive, and has been carefully monitoring and observing the situation. … We understand they may have plans to conduct additional activities in Austin and elsewhere in Texas over the coming days. Given their recent activities, we expect this would involve demonstrating in a public space where they can get attention. If you see them, interacting with them is not advised,” the letter went on to say.

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