Scare over anti-Semitic flyers in DeKalb was a misunderstanding

Reports of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim flyers distributed in the Toco Hills area of DeKalb County were investigated recently by police.

A report of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim flyers distributed in a DeKalb County neighborhood has turned out to be largely a misunderstanding.

Police confirmed Tuesday they had no evidence of any anti-Semitic flyers found in the largely Jewish Toco Hills neighborhood, and they were aware of just one anti-Muslim flyer that was placed on a car earlier this month. Police are investigating the anti-Muslim flyer. A snowball effect started online when a resident, who had heard about the anti-Muslim flyer, found a piece of paper they mistakenly thought was an anti-Semitic flyer.

Lined with swastikas, the paper described the Holocaust as a “Jew lie” and said Jewish people are “odious creatures,” according to photos provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But Dov Wilker, the Atlanta regional director of the American Jewish Committee, said the organization has determined the paper was a “historical document” someone had been using to study the history of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

>> RELATED | Anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim flyers found in DeKalb neighborhood

The document was found in the Toco Hills area, which was reeling in the wake of recent deadly attacks on Jews in New York and New Jersey.

Wilker said the local resident saw the document with the swastikas and sent it on to others, mistakenly thinking it was linked to the anti-Muslim flyer. Wilker said his understanding is the anti-Muslim flyer, which says Islam permits throwing acid in women’s faces, was placed on a Toco Hills resident’s car in another part of the county. The car’s owner is Jewish, not Muslim.

Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on DeKalb police to charge whoever put out the anti-Muslim flyer with a hate crime.

Wilker said a lot of factors led to the subsequent spread of misinformation.

“It goes to show the Jewish community is seriously on edge,” he said. “They’re being hypervigilant” because of rising anti-Semitism.

The scare over flyers came just days after five Jewish people were stabbed at a Hasidic rabbi’s New York home in what authorities say appeared to be a hate crime. Earlier this month a standoff and shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey left six people dead, including three people inside a kosher supermarket.

The Anti-Defamation League has found that the distribution of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic propaganda nearly tripled from 2017 to 2018 nationwide, with 1,187 incidents reported in 2018. A survey released in October by the American Jewish Committee found that the majority of Jews in America view anti-Semitism as a growing problem.

It’s important to share stories of discrimination when they occur, Wilker said. He said it is also necessary to verify stories before sharing them.

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