'Vax the Jews' banner hung over bridge near Austin JCC

The antisemitic attack was initiated by Jon Minadeo II of the self-proclaimed “Goyim Defense League,” an antisemitic group that has been involved in numerous provocations across the United States.

 Anti-vaccine protestors hold placards during a march against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations on the Sea Point promenade in Cape Town, South Africa (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS)
Anti-vaccine protestors hold placards during a march against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations on the Sea Point promenade in Cape Town, South Africa
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS)

An antisemitic banner was hung over a bridge in Austin, Texas last Saturday afternoon. The sign, which read “Vax the Jews,” was placed near the “Shalom Austin” Jewish Community Center in West Austin.

In response, the Shalom Austin JCC penned a letter addressed to the local community, calling the act "extremely upsetting and unsettling." The Jewish population in Texas is estimated to number over 100,000 people.

The antisemitic attack was initiated by Jon Minadeo II of the self-proclaimed “Goyim Defense League,” a neo-nazi group that has been involved in numerous provocations across the United States – most notably in Jewish population hubs such as California, Florida, and New York. They organize prejudiced protests, harass local Jewish groups, and produce social media content filled with antisemitic tropes.

Among the hateful assaults by Minadeo and his group was a 2019 incident when they dressed as Hasidic Jews and espoused “confessions” and apologies on behalf of the Jewish people, saying they were “sorry” that Jews lied about the Holocaust and were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They also hung antisemitic banners on overpasses in California, Colorado, and Florida, writing similar messages to the one seen in Austin.

“Goyim Defense League” is itself a parody of the Anti-Defamation League’s name, replacing “Anti-Defamation” with “Goyim Defense”, with “Goyim” being a Yiddish and Hebrew term for non-Jews.

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists encircle counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11, 2017 (credit: SHAY HORSE/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES/JTA)Neo-Nazis and white supremacists encircle counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11, 2017 (credit: SHAY HORSE/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES/JTA)

Austin Police were made aware of the incident and are investigating further.

“The Austin Police Department is aware, has been incredibly supportive, and has been carefully monitoring and observing the situation,” Shalom Austin’s letter continued. “We spoke tonight with (Police) Chief Joseph Chacon and he reaffirmed his support for our community.”

It is unclear if the incident is related to a Friday morning graffiti incident at Anderson High School in Austin where a swastika, among other hateful symbols, were spray-painted on the designated parking spots of high school seniors. A link between the two events has yet to be established.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler weighed in on the reported incidents on Twitter as well.

“I am heartbroken to see antisemitic hatred in Austin, a welcoming and respectful place. Hatred of any kind has no place in our city. If you see or hear it, you should report it to ADL,” his tweet read.