‘I feel jaded at this point’: Archer students respond to antisemitism in Los Angeles


Photo credit: Stephanie Harrison

These antisemitic posters encased in plastic bags and weighed with sand were found in Beverly Hills Sunday. The Goyim Defense League, an antisemitic hate group, dispersed these Saturday night, and junior Stephanie Harrison said many of her neighbors found them in their backyards.

By Lucy Williams, Voices Editor

White posters hung on an overpass above the 405 freeway Saturday, displayed to Angelenos driving south. “Honk if you know” was spray painted on the first banner, followed by “Kanye is right about the Jews.” A group of demonstrators rallied behind the signs, saluting in a Nazi style. A third banner depicted a URL for an antisemitic website.

The demonstration was organized by the antisemitic hate group Goyim Defense League. The posters showed support for rapper Kanye West’s recent antisemitic Twitter posts, promising to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” West has 31.5 million Twitter followers. He is facing consequences as a result of the posts, including no longer being represented by the talent agency CAA and a terminated decade-long partnership with Adidas. West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016, which some blame for his actions.

Archer’s Jewish Student Union held a meeting Monday, Oct. 24, at lunch to provide a space for the Archer community to discuss the events. Middle and upper school students, as well as faculty, gathered in the human development room to learn about the meaning of antisemitism and share personal stories of Judaism, their favorite Jewish celebrities and other inspiring aspects of the Jewish community. The Jewish Student Union board then reviewed West’s tweet.

“The more that we are calling power to this tweet, the more power we give it,” senior Daisy Marmur said. “Kanye wrote this, and it’s horrible, but now is not a time for us to be searching his tweet or listening to his music and supporting him. Now is a time when we band together and discuss how we can be changemakers. Archer has been a very nice bubble for us to be able to communicate our feelings and to give support in a time of need.”

The Goyim Defense League also dispersed antisemitic flyers throughout Beverly Hills Saturday night. Junior Stephanie Harrison, a Jewish-identifying member of JSU, lives in Bel Air, and she witnessed the hate in her own neighborhood.

“One of our neighbors caught [GDL] on camera flinging bags filled with hate speech and rocks over their fence into their yard on Saturday night,” Harrison said. “On Sunday morning, when my parents stepped outside to go walk our dog, they found a bunch of these posters. Every house on my street and some of the streets around me received at least two or three of these, as well as some people in Brentwood.”

Harrison said although she was saddened, she wasn’t surprised by the posters and other antisemitic demonstrations in Los Angeles.

“I knew as soon as Kanye West tweeted this that some organization would do something nasty,” Harrison said. “Antisemitic hate crimes are at an all-time high. I feel jaded at this point. No matter what effort is put forward to educate the greater community, there’s always so much hate. For example, there was an incident at Harvard Westlake a couple of weeks ago where a student was putting swastikas on desks.”

Freshman Sydney Tilles was born and raised Jewish. She was close with her grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, who died seven years ago. Her family had a gathering Monday, and they spoke about the current antisemitic incidents in LA. After her 8-year-old cousin Henry saw pictures of the antisemitic banners, Tilles exposed him to antisemitism for the first time.

“Being 8, he didn’t understand that we’re not accepted in a lot of places,” Tilles said. “It was really hard for him to understand because he’s always been accepted at his Jewish school. Living in LA, he has grown up in a very accepting environment. His knowing that a lot of people don’t want us here was heartbreaking because he’s my little cousin. I want to protect him.”

Harrison attended the JSU meeting Monday and said she appreciated the schoolwide support for the Jewish community.

“I was really proud to see non-Jewish faces or people who weren’t normally part of the club there,” Harrison said. “It was really nice to see that you have allies, and there are people outside of the Jewish community who are standing against this issue. It’s really honorable for everyone who showed up.”

Moving forward, Harrison and Marmur both pointed to education as a tool to dispel hateful propaganda and stop antisemitic events in Los Angeles. Marmur said Archer’s accepting community plays a crucial role in students’ healing from these events.

“It was less about, we’re being targeted. We’re being discriminated against. But how are we able to rise above this as a community?” Marmur said. “An incredible part about Archer is we’ve got a lot of people from different backgrounds, different cultures, and different religions, and a lot of that has been respected. The scary part is realizing how much of an effect words can have and realizing the antisemitism is in our own backyards. We have to acknowledge that Archer has been a very nice bubble for us to communicate our feelings and to give support at a time of need, and that’s something very special.”