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Georgia leaders voice concern over antisemitic demonstrations outside 2 synagogues

June 26, 2023

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other state leaders have spoken out against bigotry and hate after antisemitic demonstrations took place outside two synagogues in the state this weekend.

Groups were observed yelling antisemitic messages outside a Macon temple Friday night and displaying swastikas and signs with neo-Nazi messages outside a Cobb County synagogue on Saturday.

Antisemitic flyers were also discovered in at least one central Georgia community.

“There is absolutely no place for this hate and antisemitism in our state,” Kemp said in a tweet Sunday. “I share in the outrage over this shameful act and stand with Georgians everywhere in condemning it. We remain vigilant in the face of these disgusting acts of bigotry.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a civil rights non-governmental organization, condemned the incidents as a “stunt” by an antisemitic network focused on spreading hate and provoking division.

Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff also issued a statement saying, “Georgia’s Jewish community will never be intimidated by anti-Semitism. Today, as symbols of genocide are paraded in front of synagogues, we continue to stand strong, proud, and unbowed.”

“All Georgians are united in our rejection of bigotry and hate,” he added.

Groups outside synagogues, ‘antisemitic packages’ left

One of the demonstrations included a group that gathered outside the Temple Beth Israel in Macon on Friday night, where a man was arrested after allegedly shouting obscenities through a bullhorn, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office said.

The man, identified as 40-year-old Jon Eugene Minadeo II from West Palm Beach, Florida, was arrested “for using obscene language,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Linda Howard told CNN in a statement on Sunday.

Minadeo was “warned not to use the bullhorn, but he continued,” Howard said. He was ranting about Jewish people, she added.

Minadeo was charged with disorderly conduct and public disturbance, according to Howard. It is unknown if he has an attorney. CNN reached out to the sheriff’s office for additional details on the arrest.

The other protesters in the group dispersed after Minadeo’s arrest, Howard said.

“In this moment of darkness, lets 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,” Temple Beth Israel Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar said in a statement Friday.

In Warner Robins, a city about 20 miles south of Macon, police also acknowledged the discovery of what they called “antisemitic packages” in a Facebook statement on Friday afternoon. Warner Robins police said they are working with county, state and federal agencies in their investigation of the incident.

“Antisemitism is not a new phenomenon; it pains me greatly that today in Middle Georgia we have been forced to confront it twice. The first were flyers left in Warner Robins and the second on our doorstep,” the rabbi’s statement added.

On Saturday, a small group with signs and Nazi flags was seen outside Chabad of Cobb County, a synagogue in the city of Marietta, just northwest of Atlanta, according to CNN affiliate WANF. At least one person also appeared to be standing on top of an Israeli flag, according to CNN affiliate WSB.

Following the incident, Chabad of Cobb also issued a statement on Facebook: “We are extremely appreciative and thankful for the outpouring of support and concern from all segments of the community.”

“We have been in communication with Cobb County officials, who have identified these individuals as part of a small group that travel around the country in order to spread their hateful message,” the statement read. “We are working closely with Cobb County officials and the Police Department to ensure the security and safety of our campus. There is no threat whatsoever at this time.”

“What’s unfolded in Georgia this weekend is the latest stunt by an antisemitic network that trolls Jewish communities – spreading propaganda, conspiracy theories and hate – with the hope that they can turn Americans against Jewish people,” ADL Southeast Regional Director Eytan Davidson said in a statement to CNN.

“Supporters of this network get off on stoking division, provoking violence and getting attention. We take comfort knowing that law enforcement is watching their movements closely and elected officials and allies throughout Georgia are speaking up in solidarity. The fight against hate belongs to all of us,” Davidson said.

Antisemitic incidents in the US reached an all-time high last year, with a total of 3,697 – the highest since the group began recording, according to the ADL. The incidents,including assault, vandalism and harassment, increased by more than a third in just one year.

Culled from CNN

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