Student groups react to antisemitic flyers found in West Nashville

The flyers, created and distributed by the Goyim Defense League, blame Jewish people for causing the Russia-Ukraine war, among other allegations.


Anjali Chanda

Nashville skyline, as photographed on November 6, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

Lexie Sullivan, Staff Writer

Several antisemitic flyers were found in the driveways of residents in West Nashville less than half a mile from two Nashville synagogues on Aug. 3. The flyers were distributed by the Goyim Defense League, which is an antisemitic platform. 

Per copies of the flyers that were obtained by local news channel WSMV, the documents stated that “the Russia-Ukraine war, gun control objectives, and the fight against COVID are also led by Jewish people,” along with the claim that “Disney is grooming children under Jewish leadership.”

In response to this incident, Mayor John Cooper’s office released a joint statement with members of the community, including the Metro Nashville Police Chief, John Drake, and the Jewish Federation of Nashville of Middle Tennessee.

“We will not stand idle in the face of treacherous and threatening attempts to sow chaos and fear,” the statement reads.

David Price, a Vanderbilt professor in the Department of Jewish Studies, said these actions have occurred before in history and continue to be “antisemitic rabble-rousing.”

It’s primitive, absurd stuff, but such primitive expressions of hatred of Jews have been dangerous since the Middle Ages. Anti-Jewish leaflets, often illustrated, appeared during the first decades after the invention of printing (15th century) and, unfortunately, they have been with us ever since,” Price said. “The earliest antisemitic broadsides made outlandish claims about Jews as threats to society just like these leaflets. Obviously, now they remain an ugly form of harassment. The rhetoric seems to be engaging ethnic or cultural paranoias.”

Senior and Vanderbilt Hillel President Carly Stewart said she was also disappointed by the flyers’ message. 

“This incident indicates that antisemitism is unfortunately still alive and well. It does contribute to general feelings of fear among the Jewish community, knowing that antisemitic flyers like these are circulating in our city, but I’m grateful that this hasn’t happened on campus.” Stewart said. “I hope that the Vanderbilt community will continue to stand up for the Jewish community.”

Jewish On Campus, a national organization dedicated to empowering Jewish students, shared an Instagram post on Aug. 4 with images of the flyers and condemned its language, calling it “unacceptable.” 

“They must be held accountable,” the post reads.