Anti-Semitic leaflets at Santa Monica schools prompt investigation

Anti-Semitic leaflets that appear to link Jews to the anti-vaccine movement were discovered at four elementary schools in Santa Monica Thursday morning, the latest in a wave of similar incidents in Los Angeles County, authorities said.

School staff who arrived before noon. 8, among other things, found the posters attached to walls and signage, said Gail Pinsker, spokesman for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

At one school, one flyer was attached to a trash can for book donations, and another to an electrical device, she said.

The leaflets show what appears to be a red-and-green Star of David with the phrase “anti-vaxxer” written on it in white block letters.

“We recognize an anti-Semitic element here with the image and the star,” Pinsker said.

A message on the flyers asks people to report them against vaccines “because you do not care and they do not” and gives a number to send an SMS.

A text for the number, which has a Kentucky area code, says it is an “Anti Vax Reporting Hotline” operated by the Safer Tomorrow Organization.

“We are a group of parents and concerned citizens who secure the future of our children,” reads the text message.

When more information is requested, an automated response states that the organization “begins to collect (but not act on) information about anti-waxers.” It continues: “That way we can work towards a solution together as a society.”

The leaflets were found at Edison Language Academy, Will Rogers Learning Community and McKinley and Grant elementary schools, according to school officials. The posters have sticky backing and are hard to remove, Pinsker said.

“The school district encourages vaccinations for students, and we have a vaccination mandate for staff, but it does not appear that there is any connection with any of these things,” Pinsker said.

Jordanna Gessler, vice president of education at exhibits at Holocaust Museum LA, said the flyers link them to vaccination with Jews.

“And it is a very old anti-Semitic trope that Jews are spreading diseases that the Nazis have perpetuated,” Gessler said in an email. “It dates back to the Middle Ages, when Jews were blamed for the black plague.”

Last month, leaflets filled with anti-Semitic theories about the COVID-19 pandemic were found in driveways and front lawns of several neighborhoods in Pasadena and Beverly Hills, according to law enforcement officials.

The leaflet “contains hateful propaganda-style statements related to the COVID pandemic and the Jewish people,” the Beverly Hills police department said in a statement. More than 200 leaflets had been collected.

The leaflets mentioned a “COVID agenda” and named several federal health and business officials, while also noting that they were Jews. “Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish,” the leaflets said.

Similar leaflets were distributed in other parts of the country, including Texas and North Carolina.

Beth Kean, the museum’s executive director, called the posters found in Santa Monica “haters’ work.”

“Everyone not just in Santa Monica but throughout Los Angeles and frankly the world should be outraged and offended by such ignorant, insidious and vicious lies created by the person who produced these posters,” Kean said in a statement.

Kean said the museum seeks to educate people about “how such actions resulted in the deaths of millions in the hands of Nazi Germany.”

She added that she expects an investigation by the police.

Lieutenant Rudy Flores, a spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department, said police were sent to the respective schools to gather information.

Flores said the investigation was still in its early stages and that it had not yet been identified as a possible hate incident.

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