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ADL: Antisemitic incidents jumped 41% in California in 2022

Nearly one-fifth of the incidents were propaganda flyer actions associated with the Goyim Defense League

California reported roughly 10 antisemitic incidents a week last year, a 41% increase from 2021, according to a report released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League.

Antisemitic assaults decreased slightly.

The 518 incidents in the state, which trailed only New York’s count, included October’s high-profile antisemitic banner drop over the 405 Freeway and lesser known acts like the vandalizing of a Holocaust memorial in Santa Rosa.

Nearly one-fifth of the incidents — 92 in total — were propaganda flyer distributions associated with the Goyim Defense League, a hate group that formed in Northern California that was also responsible for several other stunts.

“People should be taking this report very seriously, because in many ways it’s a warning sign that action is needed,” Robert Trestan, vice president for ADL’s West division, which includes California, said in an interview. 

In spite of the rise in propaganda actions, it was vandalism, not harassment, that represented the largest single year-over-year increase, from 217 reported incidents in 2021 to 327 last year — a more than 50% spike.

Nationally in 2022, antisemitic incidents rose in almost every category tracked by the ADL, with white supremacist groups driving the increase. The statistics and public expressions of antisemitism by cultural figures like rapper Kanye West and politicians such as former Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, have also shaken American Jews’ confidence in their safety.

According to the report, 2022 saw an increase in collaboration between hate groups, and more targeting of other minority groups in addition to Jewish people.

And despite the decrease in reported antisemitic assaults in the state, from 15 to 13, fears of violent antisemitism are still warranted, Trestan said, noting that violence had risen in other parts of the country, and that just a few months ago two Jewish men had been shot in LA, allegedly by a man with a vendetta against Persian Jews.

In an email he sent former classmates months before the attack, that man, Jaime Tran, included a picture of a Goyim Defense League flyer.

“There are people in many communities who are scared,” Trestan said. “Let’s not use a flat line on assaults to minimize that fear.”

Goyim Defense League leader Jon Minadeo reportedly moved to Florida in December, where he was cited for littering flyers earlier this year. But his propaganda campaign has proliferated with little law enforcement response. J.: The Jewish News of Northern California recently counted 233 flyer actions in the past 3 1/2 years.

Trestan, noting that organizations like the GDL take advantage of their First Amendment right to free speech, suggested a new approach to combat them.“When tactics change, and we’re seeing a change in tactics right now, we should also be taking a look at legal structures and laws,” he said, “to make sure that there isn’t something more that can be done.”

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