June 20, 2022 [St. Petersburg, FL] –The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) responds to the rise in antisemitism in Tampa Bay. Hundreds of south Tampa residents discovered the flyers on their driveways and front yards. The flyers’ authors say COVID-19 is a Jewish “agenda,” and they list Jewish members of the Biden administration and pharmaceutical industries producing COVID-19 vaccines. The FHM’s response reads:
“Dear FHM community,
For the third weekend in a row, the white supremacist Goyim Defense League distributed antisemitic flyers in a Tampa neighborhood. For the third week in a row, the Jewish community feels less safe. And for the third week in a row, the cowardly perpetrators remain at large.
Repeated acts of bigotry like this have led to far too many hate crimes. Jews are already a small minority, and events like these can provoke even more feelings of isolation. These flyers are disturbing because they promote the same “Jewish control” conspiracy theories that have precipitated violent antisemitic incidents for centuries. It hurts to see them promulgated anywhere, let alone in your front yard, and we know how angry many in the Jewish community feel to see them week after week after week.
Almost as disturbing, though, is the relative silence from the broader Tampa Bay community. After three consecutive weeks of openly antisemitic content being delivered directly to people’s homes, no non-Jewish organization other than law enforcement has made any public statement either supporting the Jewish community or condemning the flyers. Many news organizations were slow to cover it at all. Why? As Elie Wiesel said, “what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.” In our age of heightened awareness of social issues, that silence is all the more conspicuous and maddening.
In alignment with our mission, the Museum has publicly responded to each incident, generating valuable attention via media coverage and emphasizing the need for a unified community response to an issue that should worry and anger everyone regardless of religion.
State Attorney Andrew Warren, who has been a strong ally, commented that the best way to defeat hateful ignorance is communal unity and understanding. He’s right, and the Museum uses artifacts, testimony, and educational programs to teach the importance of positive action – as well as the perils of not standing up to antisemitism. Building a culture of upstanding is our best defense, and it starts with each of us.
In an ideal world, Jews would not bear sole responsibility for demanding equal treatment, but both recent and distant history teach us the importance of advocating for one’s community. Too many people are unaware of the extent and the danger of this type of antisemitism, and it frequently falls to Jews to teach them. If you’re feeling sad, angry, or scared in the face of these flyers or the lack of outcry to them, tell your friends. Show people how much it matters to you. The more people who understand the personal impact of antisemitism’s continuing grim history, the more allies we will create.
We hope the Museum and the stories of hope and resilience we share can be a balm in times like these, a reminder that Jews will continue to rise above hatred and endure. We are constantly advocating both publicly and privately, but look forward to the day when that advocacy will no longer be necessary. If you have any questions about our work or how you can help create upstanders, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thank you for your strength and support.
Board of Directors
The Florida Holocaust Museum”