Neo-Nazis harass Shabbat worshipers outside Georgia synagogues

White supremacists hold antisemitic ‘stunts’ in several areas of southern state, including brandishing swastika flags outside Chabad Center

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

A neo-Nazi with an iron cross tattoo attends a rally in Newnan, Georgia, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Illustrative: A neo-Nazi with an iron cross tattoo attends a rally in Newnan, Georgia, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman/File)

Neo-Nazis gathered outside two synagogues and distributed antisemitic flyers in a residential area in the US state of Georgia over the weekend, in a white supremacist harassment campaign that came during a surge in anti-Jewish far-right activities in the US of recent years.

The antagonists were apparently from outside the communities they targeted, local leaders said, and have carried out similar hate campaigns in other states as well.

On Saturday afternoon, around a dozen people with Nazi banners emblazoned with swastikas confronted worshipers outside a Chabad-Lubavitch center near East Cobb, north of Atlanta.

Chabad of Cobb said it was working with local officials and the police following the incident and that there were no threats to the Jewish community.

“These individuals do not represent the sentiments of the citizens of East Cobb,” the Chabad center said. “Let’s use this unfortunate incident to increase in acts of goodness and kindness, Jewish pride, and greater Jewish engagement.”

On Friday, white supremacists gathered outside Temple Beth Israel in Macon, Georgia, in the central part of the state.

The synagogue’s rabbi, Elizabeth Bahar, said in a statement that she was in touch with Jewish community leaders and the synagogue would be taking steps to ensure security.

“In this moment of darkness, let’s strive to highlight the light and warmth that Shabbat can provide, as we come together to reaffirm the values that define us as a warm, welcoming, loving Jewish congregation,” she said.

This happened tonight in East Cobb in front of the Chabad on Lower Roswell. I will never understand WHY someone’s religion matters so much to anyone to spew such hatred. #heartbreaking #spreadlovenothate

Posted by Jennifer Caron Derrick on Saturday, June 24, 2023

The synagogue held a solidarity event on Saturday in response to the harassment. Several hundred people from around the city gathered to show support for the Jewish community, local media reported.

Earlier on Friday, in the city of Warner Robins, near Macon, “antisemitic packages” were distributed in a residential area, police said.

The packages were similar to antisemitic messages that have been repeatedly distributed in cities across the US in recent years, police said. The antisemitic messages have pushed antisemitic conspiracy theories tying Jews to the outbreak of COVID-19, immigration, abortion, and other issues.

The neo-Nazis at the Cobb County Chabad held placards with similar graphics.

The Anti-Defamation League’s regional office said the incidents were carried out by a small group of white supremacists “embarking on their latest antisemitic stunt.”

The antisemitic incidents drew harsh condemnation from Georgia state leaders.

“There is absolutely no place for this hate and antisemitism in our state. I share in the outrage over this shameful act and stand with Georgians everywhere in condemning it,” said Governor Brian Kemp.

Antisemitism has been on the rise in the US in recent years, according to the ADL.

There were a record 3,697 reported antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2022, according to an annual tally by the group.

Antisemitic white supremacist propaganda incidents doubled to 852 last year.

Most Popular
read more: