Five Jewish members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors received antisemitic postcards at their home addresses late last month.
Around the time a Sept. 27 meeting at San Francisco City Hall was disrupted by racist, antisemitic comments, Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Myrna Melgar, Hillary Ronen and Rafael Mandelman received postcards with vulgar anti-Jewish messages.
On the front, the postcard read, “Why are Jews allowed to suck baby penis” and featured black-and-white images appearing to depict brit milah, the ritual circumcision ceremony in Judaism. On the back, the postcard was stamped with “White Lives Matter” in bold black letters.
The postcards included an internet address that led to a website full of antisemitic flyers attributing control of the media, the “Covid agenda,” gun control, and the LGBTQ+ movement to Jews.
The flyers appear to be affiliated with Goyim Defense League, a group that the Anti-Defamation League describes as “virulently antisemitic.” The group’s leader, Jon Minadeo II, was formerly based in Petaluma, a city in Sonoma County, before relocating to Florida last year.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told The Standard that he was disturbed that the mail came to his home address—and, specifically, to Jewish members of the Board of Supervisors.
“I mean, it’s not good … Somebody is paying attention,” Mandelman said. “There’s weird stuff that comes across email all the time. … It’s a little weird to have them knowing addresses.”
Ronen, the supervisor of District 9, said a colleague's young daughter picked up the postcard before the colleague could get to it.
“That was the most antisemitic, sickening thing I’ve ever received in my life,” Ronen said. “This is what we’re subjected to.”
Board President Aaron Peskin said he found the postcard in his mailbox the same day City Hall’s virtual public comment was bombarded by a string of anonymous callers spewing hate speech. The board subsequently moved to temporarily end remote public comment in the wake of the incident. Peskin said the postcards contributed to that decision.
“I don’t think that was coincidental,” Peskin said. “I’m not going to be intimidated doing my job.”
In January 2022, flyers with rhetoric and branding similar to images on the website linked in the postcards were found in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.
“They didn’t go away when the founder moved from the North Bay,” said former Assemblymember Marc Levine, who represented Marin and southern Sonoma counties—where Minadeo previously lived—in Sacramento from 2012 to 2022.
Levine is now the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, based in San Francisco.
“I hate calling out [Goyim Defense League] because they do use it to increase their notoriety and I think they do fundraise off this,” he said. “They are trying to generate this kind of promotion when they do antisemitic and hateful flyering.”
While Levine has never personally received flyers from the group, he said his family members have. “That’s a very scary experience for someone, whether they’re Jewish or not,” he said.
According to Levine, antisemitic incidents in the Bay Area are as high as they have ever been since his organization began tracking them in 1979.
The problem has gotten worse in recent days.
On Oct. 7, fighters from the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing 1,400 Israelis and taking at least 199 hostage in the Gaza Strip.
More than 4,100 Palestinians have been killed in subsequent Israeli attacks on Gaza, according to the local health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas.
Since Oct. 7, antisemitism has increased by 400% nationally—and the Anti-Defamation League's own local reporting is consistent with that measure, according to Levine.
“It has shot straight up,” he said.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that a daughter of Sup. Hillary Ronen's colleague picked up a postcard before that colleague.
David Sjostedt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org