Several Eugene community members received anti-Semitic and anti-transgender flyers distributed to their homes in what the Jewish civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League said is a nationwide effort.
Eugene’s human rights and equity analyst Fabio Andrade said at least six people reported receiving flyers to the Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement office.
A statement from the ADL said the flyers included propaganda and hate speech falsely claiming Jewish people are responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a dangerous rhetoric reminiscent of Nazi propaganda blaming Jewish people for a typhoid outbreak during WWII, ADL said.
The flyers also include anti-transgender references, according to the city.
An extremist, anti-Semitic group has distributed the same flyers in Vancouver, Washington, and Austin, Texas, in addition to Eugene, ADL said.
“These messages are designed to divide our community, and they have no place here,” Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said in a statement. “Hateful messages violate everything our city stands for and all that we are working to be — a city that is safe and welcoming for everyone.”
Rabbi Meir Goldstein, a senior Jewish educator at Oregon Hillel, member of the Jewish Community Relations Council and lecturer at the University of Oregon, said he knew some of the people who received flyers.
He said the flyers are, sadly, not much of a surprise, and he has seen rising comfort with anti-Semitic tropes on campus.
“Over 60% of religious-based hate crimes in America are directed against Jews despite our making up 2% of the population,” Goldstein said. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 9% or so of the undergrads here are Jewish-identifying students, many of whom have felt the need to hide their Judaism on campus in order to be fully accepted on campus.”
UO’s vice president for equity and inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh said DEI asked anti-Semitism to be incorporated into implicit bias training in October of last year and has engaged in outreach and other strategies to support the Jewish community on campus.
“We are on the frontlines of efforts to ensure proper institutional responses to all injustice on our campus, including anti-Semitism — in our dormitories, classrooms and other spaces,” Alex-Assensoh said.
Vinis said if the spread of hate speech rises to criminal activity, the situation will be investigated by police.
Hate speech can be reported to the Office of Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement online by calling 541-682-5177 or by going in person to the office located at 101 West 10th Ave, Suite 119 from Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.