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On one of LA’s busiest streets, vandals plaster antisemitic slurs on billboards

‘The goal of this is, yet again, to create division and play on age-old tropes of Jewish control,’ said Jeffrey Abrams, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director for Los Angeles

Los Angeles police are investigating antisemitic vandalism on several billboards facing major streets in heavily Jewish neighborhoods of the city.

The slogan “Zionists Jews control America” was printed on a large sticker plastered across two of the billboards. Another sticker on the same billboards read: @DEFENDTHEHUMANRACE. On Wednesday an Instagram page by that name was taken down. Its Twitter account, which has 23 followers and contains two posts — both anti-vaccine messages from January — remains online.  

A local ADL official said its extremism experts are unfamiliar with the group.

A photo posted to social media shows a third billboard which does not name Jews or Zionists, but seems to play on a similar trope that falsely claims that Jews control international bodies. It calls for the abolition of “All corrupt institutions” including NATO, the World Health Organization and the Council of Foreign Relations.

The billboards appeared as the Los Angeles Jewish community began its observances of Sukkot and grapples with other incidents of antisemitism. Jeffrey Abrams, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director for Los Angeles, said his group has also been in contact with the LAPD about the billboards, which he said “create division and play on age-old tropes of Jewish control.”

Joanna Mendelson, a vice president at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said her group has filed a hate crimes report and that the stickers had intentionally been placed on billboards in an area where many Jews live. They are “messages being sent to the larger community,” she said, adding that police have been responsive to its concerns about the billboards.

It is not clear if more billboards had been vandalized. Mendelson said that her organization had been told by one of the companies that owned a vandalized  billboard that the stickers had been removed. 

Passersby noticed the stickers early in the week.

One of the vandalized billboards advertises the law firm Jacoby & Meyers. A lawyer there told the Forward that it had called the billboard company which had in turn called the police. 

LAPD detectives working on the investigation could not be reached for comment. 

A spokesperson for Instagram’s parent company Meta said Thursday that the @DEFENDTHEHUMANRACE account appeared to have been removed by its owner but said that due to privacy rules, they could not share the name associated with the account. 

Los Angeles has experienced a rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years, according to the ADL. The billboard vandalism comes on the heels of an incident last week in which a man disrupted services at several LA synagogues and threatened to kill congregants. 

Mendelson said the vandalism has been particularly upsetting in that it coincides with a scandal over an audiotape, leaked early this week, of Los Angeles City Council members, one of whom has resigned, using racist and antisemitic language.

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