Jewish community calls for positivity, not silence after antisemitic flyers left in Palo Alto

A rabbi's calling for positivity to fight the hate, "Be nice to someone, show an act of kindness, do something good in the world."

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Fight antisemitic flyers with kindness, Bay Area rabbi says
More antisemitic flyers have been found in the Bay Area. Police say dozens of sheets with anti-Jewish messaging were found throughout Palo Alto.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Over the weekend in Palo Alto, police say dozens of flyers with anti-Jewish messaging were distributed throughout the community. The flyers blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on Jewish officials and highlighting the anti-President Joe Biden slogan "let's go Brandon."

"Jews were blamed for all kinds of things by every movement that you can think of throughout the generations," Chabad Palo Alto Rabbi Yosef Levin said. "It's an irrational hatred that is part of the world that we live in."

The Palo Alto Police Department tells us the flyers were found around town in plastic bags weighted down with rice.

They add there is no indication the recipients of the flyers were targeted in any way and the bottom of the paper all said, "These flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent."

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This comes about a month after similar flyers were distributed in San Francisco.

"I feel it very personally," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said.

Rosen is a member of the Jewish community and believes hate drove the flyers .

But no matter how hurtful the words were, police are investigating this as a hate incident and not a hate crime.

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"A crime is when those words cross over into some kind of physical assault or property damage," Rosen said.

The American Jewish Committee says the events across the country are emotional, but silence won't solve anything because it's how some of the biggest events in the past became even worse.

"It's scary that this is one of the things that is one of the things that we're dealing with now in the social media age," AJC San Francisco Associate Director Eran Hazary said. "Our silence only allows for hate speech, hate incidents and any sort of hate to grow. So, we can't be quiet."

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So, the members of the Jewish community we spoke with encourage others to speak out. They hope this can be a learning lesson.

"Maybe teach them a little bit about Judaism or Jewish history and try to educate them about this," Rosen said. "Honestly, if we find the person or people who did it, I'd invite them to my house for seder."

"The way to respond to this is really for good people to add goodness and kindness," Rabbi Levin said. "Do an act of kindness. If every person in Palo Alto today would be nice to someone, show an act of kindness, do something good in the world. That will counterbalance the negative."