The Montana Human Rights Network is urging community members to speak out against the anti-Semitic message contained in flyers found around Helena this week.
"Traditionally targeted communities don't know where folks stand if they don't speak up," MHRN co-director Rachel Carroll Rivas said in a press release Wednesday. "When this kind of literature is dropped in communities, the purpose is to spread anti-Semitism and target the local Jewish community. In response, we need to support our Jewish friends and neighbors and condemn these efforts to divide our communities."
The flyers were found Sunday on the windshields of vehicles within a 10-block radius of the State Capitol. The materials were not on the vehicles the previous evening, indicating that they were placed there overnight.
"You don't have to be challenged on your ideas if you drop something on a car in the dead of night," Rivas said. "They don't have to look into the face of the people they're dehumanizing."
According to MHRN, the flyers contained a message based on conspiracies and half-truths and were similar to anti-Semitic materials found in Missoula earlier this year.
The materials appear to have been printed on a home computer on traditional letter-sized paper with large margins. According to MHRN, the literature attempts to invoke Israel in order to mask the underlying anti-Semitic message.
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Rivas said there was nothing identifying a source of the literature or who placed it on the vehicles, although MHRN has its suspicions. Rivas said it's important to by aware that there are people in our area who wish to divide the community.
"They're not interested in a community dialogue on policy issues," Rivas said. "They're interested in sowing division and intimidation of a group of people, in this case Jewish people."
Rivas said white nationalists and anti-Semites typically attempt to tap into ongoing controversies in order to mask their message, because using blatant language and symbolism to push their message turns people against them.
This incident is just one in a rising number of incidents of anti-Semitism across the United States. Rivas said this kind of hate literature ignores the diversity of Jewish people and blames them for the ills of the world. In this case, the target was Helena's "small but strong community of Jewish people," Rivas said.
This isn't the Helena community's first brush with white supremacy. Last October, a white nationalist group attempted to recruit more members to their cause by posting flyers on Carroll College's campus.
Rivas encourages the community to report incidents of hate at mhrn.org. MHRN investigates these incidents and can provide individualized support.