Anti-Semitic fliers found in Chevy Chase

These anti-Semitic fliers, which was signed by conspiracy theorist Peter J. Cohanis, were found Sept. 5 in Chevy Chase. Photo courtesy of Joel Rubin

Anti-Semitic fliers were discovered in a Chevy Chase neighborhood last week, prompting concern from residents, the Anti-Defamation League and town officials.

Montgomery County Police were notified on Sept. 5 at 12:31 p.m. that fliers had been found on Blackthorn Court and contained messages such as “Govt Jews Murder 20 Million,” “Israel the Problem” and “The Jews Know and Hid the Above So We’d Die and They’d Own the World.”

The fliers appear to be signed by conspiracy theorist Peter J. Cojanis and dated Aug. 29 under the phrase “Wherefore Congress Shall Declare War on the Jews.” The main phone number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard is also listed.

Police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said that distributing the flier does not constitute a crime because it does not specifically target Jewish residents or make threats.

“There is no suspect because there is no crime,” he said.

According to the 2010 Maryland criminal code, hate crimes can be charged for the following violations: damaging property of religious entity; obstructing exercise of religious belief; harassment; destruction of property or damage to associated building.

Joel Rubin, a member of the Chevy Chase Town Council, alerted the council and town manager of the incident.

“Someone left anti-Semitic fliers close to my home,” he said. “This is very upsetting.”

Melanie Kahn, associate regional director for the ADL, said the organization has tracked Cojanis for 20 years, which is how long he has been distributing fliers.

“He is originally from Arizona, but has now been fliering in the D.C. metro area,” she said. “We have no reason to believe that the recipients of the fliers have been targeted, or are in any type of danger.”

Kahn said she did not know how many houses received fliers but they included both Jews and non-Jews. She said the ADL met with one of the flier recipients on Tuesday and will continue to monitor Cojanis’ activity.

“We are working with Town Council member Joel Rubin to assure the Chevy Chase community that there is no threat,” she said. “We appreciate that he and the community members are taking anti-Semitic hate literature seriously, and speaking out against this type of hateful language.”

In December 2011, Takoma Park police suspected that Cojanis was linked to fliers distributed in a community there. In addition, similar fliers appeared in Arlington neighborhoods around the same time. A story in WJW also referred to a 2009 incident in which similar leaflets were distributed in Bethesda and the District of Columbia.

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