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'We can't ignore it' | White supremacist incidents in Georgia increased 415% in 2022

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Georgia now ranks 10th in the nation for these types of incidents.

ATLANTA — White supremacist propaganda efforts have disturbingly increased to an all-time high nationwide and in Georgia, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). 

The ADL said Georgia now ranks 10th in the nation for these types of incidents. Flashback to January 2022, flyers were handed out in Cartersville, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on the Jewish community.

Then in November, police responded to reports of graffiti painted on properties in Brookhaven. In February 2023, State Representative Esther Panitch and others in her Sandy Springs and Dunwoody communities received anti-Semitic flyers.

“We are seeing just a straight line up of incidents," Panitch said. "And not just the number but the intensity. So we're in a crisis right now." 

The report from ADL said Georgia said 39 incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2021, compared to 201 incidents in 2022. That's more than a 415% increase.

Panitch believes, in reality, the numbers are likely higher.

“I talked to some of the people behind the report... the 201 incidents are not 201 flyers being dropped," she said. "Sometimes those incidents, even though there might be hundreds of flyers, counted as one incident. So you're really talking about thousands of actual incidents that are just categorized into 201 different events." 

Panitch co-signed a bill to define anti-semitism in state law and classify some incidents as hate crimes. It passed the Georgia House this week and now moves to the Senate.

“We're not that far from the end of World War Two where 6 million Jews were targeted and murdered," she added. "So to the idea that we have to do this again is awful. But here we are. So we can't ignore it."

Senior Rabbi at Temple Kol Emeth, Larry Sernovitz, said numbers won’t improve unless people speak out in schools, houses of worship and in their homes.

"We got to be out there," he said. "We got to be bold, and we have to be the ones that are perpetuating peace in our communities. Studies show - and it's shocking - that people learn to hate others in their schools, in their houses of worship, and at home." 

On Wednesday, March 29th, Rabbi Sernovitz’s Marietta Temple plans to host several community leaders, including faith leaders and politicians, for a Unity Seder: a dinner celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover.

It is meant for people to discuss the inclusion of minorities in our community.

"Jews shouldn't be fighting anti-Semitism. The Black community shouldn't be fighting racism," Sernovitz said. "It's the others who should come together, when they see this to speak out, because that's where really the work needs to be done." 

The event will also be taking place at a Midtown Temple. It's the first time this event is being held and simulcasted in two locations at once.

For more information on the event, click here

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