On Tuesday, June 20th, 2023, residents of a middle-class suburban neighborhood in Cumru Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania awoke to find an unsettling message outside their homes. Residents all over the neighborhood received antisemitic flyers in a Ziplock plastic bag that was weighed down by hard kernels of corn in their driveways.
Many residents were perplexed. One resident reached out to her other neighbors to see if they had received the hateful flyer, and indeed, they had. When she left her house to walk her dog, she saw plastic bags containing the flyer in driveways up and down her street.
The flyers claim that “every single aspect of the slave trade was Jewish.” It then lists different slave ships and their Jewish owners. It also says, “the following Jews were known dealers, owners, shippers, or supporters of the slave trade and of the enslavement of Black African citizens in early New York history.” It then proceeds to list a number of different names.
No one knows who left the flyers, although it does contain a website address. I went to gtvflyers.com, which is advertised on the flyer. It is a despicable listing of various flyers they pass around. Each flyer blamed Jewish people for everything they could think of, from Covid to the LGBTQ agenda, from Disney to the Biden Administration, from 9/11 to feminism. The hate is astounding!
The advocacy organization fighting antisemitism – StopAntisemitism – has attributed the antisemitic flyers to the Goyim Defense League. The league travels the country distributing these hateful flyers targeted Jewish communities. Earlier this week, GDL members were distributing similar flyers in neighboring towns.
What’s shocking about these flyers, aside from the pure contempt they show for other human beings, is that at the bottom it clearly states, “these flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent.” It seems preposterous to make that claim when you’re blaming one group for the world’s ills.
One neighbor was so upset by the flyers that she called the Cumru Township Police to report them. She spoke with an officer on the phone. He told her that unless someone was being specifically targeted with threats, there was nothing that the police could do.
These flyers fall under the First Amendment rights to free speech. As loathsome as their content is, the officer’s hands were tied. According to the neighbor, the officer said he would file a report and be more vigilant in the area.
This brings up bigger questions about spreading hate, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. We may be allowed to do it, but it puts a stain on a quaint, friendly, diverse neighborhood. It makes one think twice about the people living in their midst.
These antisemitic flyers have left this suburban enclave unsettled, disgusted, and concerned about their fellow neighbor. Cumru Township is not a place for hate.