Community Rattled by Another Antisemitic Flyer Incident

The Beverly Hills Jewish community is reeling after dozens of antisemitic flyers were distributed in Westside neighborhoods last weekend. Beverly Hills, Westwood, and Beverly Grove residents woke up on Oct. 23 to see pieces of paper, weighed down by plastic bags with dry rice, touting COVID-19 conspiracy theories and hateful antisemitic rhetoric.

“Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish,” the leaflets read, naming several prominent government officials, including CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. The papers were distributed just a day after a group of demonstrators, who were livestreaming at the time, hung banners over the 405 Freeway declaring, “Kanye is right about the Jews,” and the name of a well-known hate group that is believed to be behind the banners and flyers.

The banners reference a long list of antisemitic remarks made by Kanye West, now known as “Ye.” Ye has been dropped by his talent agency and received widespread backlash after a series of comments on television interviews and in Instagram posts saying that systemic issues of wealth and power can be traced back to Jewish people. His rhetoric has lit a fire in antisemitic circles, including the White Lives Matter movement and several other hate groups.

Brian Levin, a researcher with the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, told the Courier how statements like the ones Ye made often embolden hate groups.

“We’re already seeing public displays of antisemitism become tolerated,” Levin said. “Even if you have poor atmospherics, but there’s a lot of dry kindling, having prominent influencers throw a lot of matches onto it brings it to another level.”

The Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) is investigating the flyer drop. And the Los Angeles Police Department is conducting its own investigation after surveillance video surfaced of three men performing a Nazi salute outside the home of a Jewish family. 

This is the fourth time flyers have been distributed this year alone. According to BHPD Spokesperson Lieutenant Giovanni Trejo, the papers were distributed in the early hours of the morning. Security footage reviewed by the Courier shows a dark SUV throwing papers onto a front lawn.

“I’m glad my kids didn’t pick it up and see it,” said Sam Yebri, an L.A. City Council candidate who lives in Westwood. Yebri, who has received the same flyers in the past, walked outside on Oct. 23 to see the small packages on his doorstep. “We felt really violated, especially when we knew it was our entire neighborhood.”

Ivan Wolkind, chief operating officer and head of the community security initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, echoed Levin’s concerns that these flyer drops and spurts of hateful speech might lead to more dangerous incidents.

“What I really worry about is who they might be inspiring to take this to the next level,” Ivan said. “The biggest worry in the community is that this will turn violent.” 

Wolkind added that incidents like this often make Jewish families reconsider their safety, even in a place as welcoming to their community as Beverly Hills.

“I think it’s a real shame that this is where we’ve gone to in the United States of America at this point,” Wolkind said. “A real shame.”

Hate crimes in Los Angeles during the pandemic have made local and national news. Asian Americans were violently assaulted in record numbers across California in 2021, according to a report from the California Department of Justice. In March, two men were arrested for a hate crime attack on a family-owned Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills that happened in 2020.

Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse has also decried the actions of the group and the flyers distributed. Bosse took to Twitter on Sunday to speak out.

“ENOUGH Hate meant 2 silence us,” Bosse posted on Twitter. “I will speak LOUDER.”