Thursday, November 11, 2021

Jewish residents in Austin, TX sent antisemitic letters blaming them for Covid

A new example of antisemitism connected to Covid, in Austin, Texas:

Jewish residents in an Austin neighborhood were sent antisemitic letters blaming them for Covid

A string of antisemitic attacks has taken place over the last few days across Texas and in Austin. In the latest incident, several people in an Austin neighborhood received hateful letters at their homes. The letters received by Jewish residents in Hays County were sealed in a plastic bag filled with small rocks, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said Sunday, according to the Austin American-Statesman.  

The letters blamed Jewish community members for the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish,” the letters read. They also named Jewish scientists and pointed fingers at leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are Jewish.

“Negative actions motivated in bias is an attack against an entire community and not just an attack on a single person,” Becerra wrote on Twitter. “This behavior is not acceptable.”

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Chabad of San Marcos, the only Jewish center in the county, offered guidance and support to members who were targeted.  


After receiving multiple calls from people who were upset regarding the incident, Rabbi Ari Weingarten said he is working with community leaders to “heal spirits” and remind them that “unity is key.” Since the eight nights of  Hanukkah begin Nov. 28, community menorah lighting events have been scheduled. “The message of Hanukkah is that light is stronger than dark and good prevails,” Weingarten said.

While the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said the letter distribution does not qualify as a criminal offense, it said it is aware propaganda is being anonymously distributed. The FBI, however, noted that is is prepared to investigate should the need arise.

“We are aware of the incidents and are in regular contact with local authorities,” the FBI said in a statement regarding the letters, according to the Hays Free Press. “If in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate. “

According to the Anti-Defamation League in Austin, 17 antisemitic incidents have been reported in the past 10 days in Texas. This includes an incident in which Austin’s Congregation Beth Israel synagogue was set on fire Sunday night, While the damage was contained to the exterior of the building, fire officials said they are looking for a man seen carrying a five-gallon container then fleeing the scene in a car after starting the fire.

Additionally, in October about a dozen people displayed an antisemitic banner from the heavily trafficked North MoPac Boulevard overpass, and displayed similar posters in the East Sixth Street entertainment area, the Houston Chronicle reported. In the same week, an Austin school building was also vandalized with swastikas, homophobic slogans, and racist slurs.

Community leaders and others condemned the actions, including the Austin City Council and mayor.

“When we see acts of hate, they're jarring. They're hurtful, and they are scary. But they are not surprising," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Because there are people who do hateful and horrible, wrongful things."

 “The danger is that hate spreads,” he cautioned.   

See also: Residents in Hays County were sent antisemitic letters 

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H/T: Eric Ward on Twitter: 

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