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CORALVILLE — The local Jewish community has seen an outpouring of support after antisemitic flyers were distributed in some neighborhoods in Coralville, according to Janice Weiner, president of the executive committee for the Agudas Achim congregation.
Police came Sunday to the Agudas Achim synagogue, 401 E. Oakdale Blvd. in Coralville, to let leaders know that flyers with antisemitic messaging had been left at houses in several neighborhoods nearby. Coralville police are investigating, Weiner said.
“One of our goals is not to amplify … the message that was in the flyers at all because we don’t want to give these hate groups, that represent just a tiny minority, any amplification or platform. But at the same time, we need to acknowledge that this happened,” she said.
“This is happening in a number of places around the country. It’s not limited to here. And this is the pattern that it follows. They’ll distribute in a neighborhood, not necessarily at a synagogue, because then … they can call it free speech. They might get charged with littering, but they’re probably not going to be, at that point, charged with a hate crime.”
Weiner, a former Iowa City Council member who was elected this year to the Iowa Senate, said she views this incident as an opportunity to recognize the importance of community support and understanding, especially among minority groups.
Coralville Mayor Meghann Foster and multiple faith leaders have reached out to Weiner, and to Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz, this week to offer their support, Weiner said.
“This is the holiday season. We’re coming into Hanukkah, which really celebrates the victory over bigotry and the ability to practice our religion and freedom. So, what we’d really like to turn this into is allowing people to see who we really are, and not what conspiracy theories would make us out to be,” Weiner said.
“Any other communities that experience hate, we would support them unequivocally, just as we have been supported.” she said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, sent out a statement Wednesday condemning the flyers and expressing its support for the Jewish community in Coralville.
“We condemn the distribution of this hateful antisemitic propaganda and stand in solidarity with the members of the Jewish community against bigotry,” Ibrahim Hooper, the council’s national communications director, said in a statement. “Communities across our nation must come together to repudiate the rise of antisemitism and all other forms of hate.”
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