The number of antisemitic incidents in 2000 increased by 4 percent over 1999. Several right-wing extremist groups exploited the increased tensions in the Middle East in the fall to propagate their antisemitic and anti-Israel biases. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke began a campaign to build on nationalist sentiments in Russia. Exploitation of the Internet by hatemongers and extremists continued unabated.
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
The Jewish community in the United States today numbers 5.6 million, out of a total population of over 283 million. American Jews constitute the largest concentration of Jews in the world, currently making up approximately 2.1 percent of the American population. Jews of East European origin make up the majority of American Jewry, while the United States is also home to the largest number of Holocaust survivors outside the State of Israel.
The bulk of American Jewry lives in several large cities and their environs, including New York City (1.45 million), Los Angeles (519,000), Southeast Florida (514,000), Chicago (261,000), Boston (227,000), San Francisco (210,000), Philadelphia (206,000) and Cleveland (81,000). The intermarriage rate is high, today accounting for more than 50 percent of all unions involving a Jewish partner.
Leading national Jewish organizations include the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Jewish War Veterans (JWV) and many other religious, fraternal and Zionist groups. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations acts as the domestic and foreign policy umbrella group for 55 member organizations. A merger between the Council of Jewish Federations, United Israel Appeal and United Jewish Appeal in 1998 created the United Jewish Communities (UJC), which represents and serves Jewish community federations and independent Jewish communities throughout North America.
There is an active Jewish press and almost every community with a large Jewish population supports its own English-language weekly newspaper.
EXTREMIST ORGANIZATIONS AND GROUPS
Among organized right-wing hate groups active in the United States today, the National Alliance is one of the most dangerous. Led by veteran antisemite and racist William Pierce since 1974, this neo-Nazi organization is increasingly active, with continued growth in number of members and contacts. Pierce’s purchase in 1999 of Resistance Records, the largest distributor of hate-rock music in the country, expanded his multimedia approach, targeting young people. In 2000 Pierce launched the neo-Nazi black metal music company Cymophane Records. Evidence suggests that Cymophane Records–Nordland in Stockholm is an outlet of the same company (see Sweden). The National Alliance continues to use leafleting as a means of disseminating its propaganda, especially on college campuses. There have been bulk mailings of tapes of Pierce’s speeches and of the National Alliance’s magazine National Vanguard, in addition to Pierce’s weekly radio broadcast “American Dissident Voices,” also available on the web.
The National Alliance’s current strength is based on its skillful use of technology, especially the Internet, its willingness to cooperate with other extremists, its energetic recruitment and promotional activities, and its vicious, but pseudo-intellectual propaganda.
The Christian “Identity” movement promotes its racist, antisemitic agenda through pseudo-religious themes. It holds that white Anglo-Saxons are the “chosen people” of the Bible, that Jews are the children of Satan, and that the white race is superior to others. Some of the leading “Identity” groups include Pete Peters’ Scriptures for America, America’s Promise Ministries of Sandpoint, Idaho, Dan Gayman’s Church of Israel, and Thomas Robb’s Kingdom Identity. In addition, right-wing Patriot leader Bo Gritz recently converted to Christian “Identity.”
Vincent Bertollini, a wealthy extreme-right propagandist, and Carl Story, both of Sandpoint, Idaho, lead the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, a Christian “Identity” organization with a pseudo-theological bent that shares the antisemitic, white supremacist philosophy of Aryan Nations. The two men have used wealth acquired from Silicon Valley computer ventures to finance mass mailings and other activities. Recently they helped re-capitalize Aryan Nations, after a court judgment bankrupted the group (see below).
Led by Richard Butler, Aryan Nations is a paramilitary neo-Nazi group based in Hayden Lake, Idaho. Story and Bertollini, acquaintances of Butler, worked to promote “Identity” theology and white supremacy through leaflet mailings and large donations. In 1999, they temporarily discontinued their support of Aryan Nations after the group was sued (see below). In August 2001, Pastor Neuman Britton, a longtime member whom the elderly Butler had appointed his successor in 1998, died.
The virulently antisemitic and racist World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) promotes the creation of “an all-white nation and ultimately an all-white world,” rejecting Christianity altogether in favor of a “race-based,” whites-only religion. (In contrast to Christian “Identity,” a theological hate movement, WCOTC repudiates Christianity along with all other religions). The group has recently made a concerted effort to recruit college students, and to spread its propaganda by dropping booklets on lawns or inserting fliers in free newspapers. After its founder and leader Ben Klassen committed suicide in 1993, the group suffered a decline, until its resurrection by Matt Hale in 1996. Hale calls himself “Pontifex Maximus,” or “supreme leader,” of the group. The reborn WCOTC, based in East Peoria, Illinois, has a small but growing membership of dedicated individuals who call themselves “Creators” and who are involved in an aggressive campaign to disseminate WCOTC’s “Creativity” propaganda and recruit new members.
During the unrest in the Middle East that began in late September, Hale made repeated verbal attacks against Israel, declaring a “Day of Rage” against “Jewish imperialism” in October. He also attempted to garner greater media coverage for his group’s activities. Hale has taken advantage of recent news events to reinforce the idea of a Jewish conspiracy to control the world. For example, he presented Senator Joseph Lieberman’s vice presidential nomination and the unrest in the Middle East as examples of what he and other extremists label a “Jewish Occupied Government,” in which too many Jews hold too much power. In February 2001, Hale – a law school graduate – was denied a license to practice law in Montana, as he had been in Illinois the year before.
The National Socialist Aryan Party (NSAP), based in Nebraska, exemplifies the growing trend of hate organizations which began on the Internet and which are now trying to form grassroots chapters in California, New York and Oregon, among other states. NSAP’s stated mission is “to advance the Aryan race.” Its motto, “We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children,” is known as “The 14 Words,” a battle cry for white supremacists and neo-Nazis coined by David Lane of The Order.
The National Socialist Movement, based in Minneapolis, is one of the most active, expanding neo-Nazi groups. It has begun conducting armed paramilitary training in Ohio.
Founded by Willis Carto in 1955, Liberty Lobby was for decades the most influential antisemitic propaganda organization in the United States. Liberty Lobby had considerable impact on the growth of American militia groups, through three media vehicles: The Spotlight, a weekly newspaper which published antisemitic, anti-Israel and anti-government conspiracy theories, with a circulation of about 100,000; Liberty Lobby’s national radio programs, “Radio Free America” and “Editor’s Roundtable,” which broadcast interviews with hate group leaders and conspiracy theorists; and The Barnes Review (after Harry Elmer Barnes, one of the first Holocausdeniers), a monthly magazine focusing on historical revisionism and Holocaust denial, with a claimed circulation of 11,000. Carto launched this publication after he broke with the Institute for Historical Review, which publishes the Journal of Historical Review.
In December 2000, Spotlight reported that a legal settlement in which Liberty Lobby had filed for bankruptcy protection had been overturned. Bankruptcy protection would have enabled Liberty Lobby to continue avoiding payment of damages owed to IHR (see below) as the result of a longstanding legal and financial dispute rooted in Carto’s break with IHR. In July 2001, Liberty Lobby was denied protection and forced to liquidate its assets, which meant ceasing publication of Spotlight. However, a month later, a new and almost identical newspaper called American Free Press was launched by the Spotlight staff.
Defining Russia as the “key to white survival,” former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has targeted this country as a means of broadening his popularity internationally and finds a receptive audience for his antisemitic message (see Russia). Duke’s organization NOFEAR (National Organization for European American Rights), based in Mandeville, Louisiana, with 26 chapters in 17 US states listed on their website, stands to gain publicity from his visits and discussions there. Duke has also used leaflets to try to recruit more members, sporadically distributing pamphlets in many communities across the United States.
Militia groups in the United States have decreased in number in the past few years, but still pose a criminal threat, as they direct anti-government fervor into action. Although most militia groups profess to be non-racist, some militia members have expressed racism or antisemitism, such as Mark Koernke’s frequent references to the “Kosher Mafia.” The militias are most active in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and California. Leaders of the movement include Koernke of Michigan, Charlie Puckett of Kentucky, and John Trochman of Montana. In connection with the turn of the millennium (Y2K), militia members conspired to commit criminal acts of violence against federal buildings and officials and engage in confrontations with police officials. The Y2K event was exploited by militia leaders to promote extremist conspiracy theories such as the notion that, with its onset, the US government would take violent and repressive measures against its citizens. This idea is a familiar rallying cry of the militia movement, based on reactions to, among other things, the violent Ruby Ridge and Waco standoffs with the government (see ASW 1995/6). Recently, splinter groups have been breaking away from the militias, deeming them not radical enough; these groups are characterized by the phenomenon known as “cell activity,” or “leaderless resistance.” In December 1999, militia leader Donald Beauregard was arrested in Florida for six criminal offenses, including conspiring to steal explosives from National Guard facilities in Florida. Western Illinois Militia leader Dan Shoemaker was convicted on eight of the 13 counts brought against him on 3 November 2000.
The Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, led by Jeff Berry of Butler, Indiana, is one of the most active Klan (KKK) organizations in America. Berry established the American Knights of the KKK in 1995. (Its current name was adopted in 1999.) While most other Klans across the country have declined, the American Knights have been active, spreading propaganda and attempting to hold rallies across the country. Prior to his arrest (see below), Berry was one of the most active Klan figures in America. His group held frequent rallies in cities, including New York and others throughout the Midwest and the South. It also distributed propaganda by illegally stuffing fliers in free local newspapers. Other active Klan groups include the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The headquarters of the IKA moved this year from Powderly, Kentucky, to Prospect Heights, IL. In addition, Ron Edwards, who had previously headed the group, was replaced by Jamey Keith. Most Klan groups are virulently antisemitic.
Despite substantially toning down his rhetoric during Saviors’ Day in February 2000 and at the Million Family March (MFM) in October 2000, Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Black separatist Nation of Islam (NOI), continues to preach that Jews control the lives of African-Americans.
Khallid Abdul Muhammad, national chairman of another racist, black nationalist movement, the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), died on 17 February 2001. Four members of the NBPP may compete for leadership of the group – Aarron Michaels, Malik Shabazz, Hashim Nzingha and Quanell X from Houston.
During Saviors’ Day, the NOI’s annual convention celebrating the birth of NOI founder Master Fard Muhammad, Farrakhan invited Rabbi David Weiss of Neturei Karta (a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews with a record of hostility to Israel and Zionism) to speak. Weiss repeatedly attacked Zionism and Israel, telling the crowd that the Holocaust was punishment on the Jewish people for trying to establish the State of Israel. Neturei Karta members also showed up at the MFM.
In front of a nationally televised audience a day before the MFM, Farrakhan reiterated his belief that Jews control black athletes and professionals, calling it a “master-slave relationship.” Farrakhan had also made several other antisemitic statements on his US tour promoting the MFM.
The main NOI website maintains links to several of Farrakhan’s past speeches, including some in which he makes racist and antisemitic remarks. Other NOI links lead to the NOI’s infamous publication The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews and to a range of hostile articles on Jews. The NOI has posted many anti-Israel articles in regard to the recent Middle East conflict.
Organized hate groups such as the various neo-Nazi organizations, KKK factions and “Identity” churches remain unremitting sources of anti-Jewish hostility. Smaller extremist and white supremacist groups operating Internet sites have succeeded in reaching an audience that is disproportionate to their size. While most antisemitic activity in the US is limited to hate propaganda, members of extremist organizations and their associates sometimes engage in threats, violence and vandalism.
Violence and Vandalism
The total number of antisemitic incidents in 2000 increased in comparison with 1999. Forty four states, and the District of Columbia, reported approximately 1,606 antisemitic incidents, marking an rise of 59 incidents above the 1999 total. This represents a 4 percent increase in anti-Jewish activity, reversing the downward trend prior to 1999, which saw a 4 percent decline.
Antisemitic activity reported in 2000 consisted of acts of harassment (intimidation, threats and assaults) and vandalism (light property damage as well as arson and cemetery desecrations). As in the past, antisemitic acts of harassment, threats or assaults against Jewish individuals or institutions made up more than half of all anti-Jewish activity reported (55 percent), with a total of 877 incidents, up from 868 in 1999. Acts of antisemitic vandalism showed an increase in 2000 after a slight decrease in 1999. A total of 729 incidents of vandalism were recorded, compared with 679 in 1999 – an increase of 7 percent.
New York, the state with the largest Jewish population, once again recorded the highest number of antisemitic acts. There were 481 such incidents in 2000, an increase of 37 percent over the previous year. California registered the second-highest rate of antisemitic activity with 257, a 7 percent decrease over the year before. New Jersey was third, with 213 cases, a decrease of 6 percent from the previous year. Massachusetts reported 128, an increase of 15 percent.
The small increase in antisemitic incidents may be related to the rise in tensions in the Middle East since the end of September (the highest monthly number of the year’s incidents took place in October). While there is usually an increase in antisemitic inciduring the Jewish High Holy Days, when Jews are more visible, in 2000 there were at least 34 incidents that were linked by the perpetrator to the unrest in the Middle East.
On 12 October 2000, three assaults occurred on the same night in the same Chicago, Illinois, neighborhood; two were known to have been perpetrated by Palestinian Americans. The most serious incident involved a rabbi who was shot at (but not injured) while sitting in his car. On 10 July 2000, an individual entered the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum, gave the Nazi salute and said, “We should have killed all you Jews.”
The exploitation of the Internet and World Wide Web by hatemongers and religious and racial extremists continued unabated in 2000. Antisemites and racists used the Internet to spread hateful messages, to raise funds and to recruit and organize members. Because of the near total anonymity offered by the Internet, haters are free to expound their ideas and mask their identities. As a result, there are literally hundreds of websites that spread racism and antisemitism. A number of sites are also devoted to Holocaust denial and revisionism.
Among the extremists with established hate sites were Don Black of Stormfront, David Duke and his newly-founded National Organization for European American Rights, William Pierce and his National Alliance, Tom Metzger and his White Aryan Resistance, the “Identity” church movement, Matt Hale and the WCOTC, neo-Nazi skinheads, “Aryan” women’s groups and several KKK chapters. Holocaust denial groups such as the Institute for Historical Review and the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, as well as militia groups, also made their presence felt online.
In the aftermath of the selection of Senator Joseph Lieberman for Democratic vice president, antisemites, racists and bigots took to the Internet to spread antisemitic vitriol in various general chat rooms and online message boards. While the majority of the messages were posted by antisemites and racists with the intention of reaching others of a similar bent, remarks also appeared on a handful of racist web pages operated by some notorious antisemites, including Don Black’s Stormfront and Matt Hale’s WCOTC.
Numerous groups and individuals have created and maintained websites promoting the antisemitic, racist ideas of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party. The website for the National Alliance, the most prominent, overtly neo-Nazi organization in the United States today, features transcripts of broadcasts from leader William Pierce’s weekly antisemitic radio broadcasts, the text of articles from the group’s National Vanguard magazine, and a catalog of over 600 books.
In addition, although today’s Ku Klux Klan is extremely fragmented, the various groups have been setting up websites as a means to revitalize themselves.
ATTITUDES TOWARD THE HOLOCAUST AND THE NAZI ERA
Since its inception in 1979, the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a California-based Holocaust denial organization founded by Willis Carto of Liberty Lobby, has promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews fabricated tales of their own genocide to manipulate the sympathies of the non-Jewish world. In 1991, IHR’s attempts to attract attention led the American Historical Association to issue a statement condemning Holocaust denial and adding, “No serious historian questions that the Holocaust took place.” IHR entered a period of institutional decline when, in 1993, it ousted Carto over alleged financial improprieties. Deprived of Carto’s monetary resources and focusing most of its attention on its continuing lawsuits against him, IHR was unable to produce its pseudo-scholarly Journal of Historical Review regularly. Nevertheless, IHR remained the world’s single most important outlet for Holocaust denial propaganda, keeping in print such classics as Arthur Butz’s The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, and Fred Leuchter’s The Leuchter Report. In 1996 a California court ruled against Carto and awarded IHR’s parent corporation, the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, $6 million. The appeals process continued into mid-2001, when Liberty Lobby was denied bankruptcy protection, forced to liquidate assets and pay damages to IHR (see above). A newly invigorated IHR held a “revisionist” conference in May 2000 – its first since 1992 – at which David Irving, Robert Faurisson, Arthur Butz, Jürgen Graf, Ernst Zündel and Bradley Smith, as well as former US Congressman Paul McCloskey, Jr., were among the speakers.
Since 1988, Bradley Smith, head of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), has been attempting to disseminate Holocaust denial propaganda on college campuses by placing advertisements in student newspapers. To date he has run ad campaigns in eight campus newspapers; he has also purchased smaller ads promoting his website, and has been able to have copies of a pamphlet entitled The Revisionist inserted into several newspapers. His major ads have always provoked controversy and have been turned down by most college newspapers; since 1998, in particular, Smith has been able to place ads only in the newspapers of smaller and less prestigious colleges. In response to his decreasing effectiveness, he announced in January 2001 his intention to begin using more subtle tactics for spreading Holocaust denial, including the submission of op-ed style opinion pieces, which would deal with Holocaust denial only obliquely.
In May 2000, one month after losing his lawsuit against Deborah Lipstadt in a British High Court, British Holocaust denier David Irving arrived in the United States for three months of speaking appearances. He began in California, where he spoke at the thirteenth Holocaust denial conference of the Institute for Historical Review and finished his tour with his own Holocaust denial conference, “Real History, USA,” which took place in Cincinnati, from 22 to 24 September. This was his second conference in the United States (the first one was in 1999), and featured, among others, Bradley Smith, Charles Provan, John Sack and Germar Rudolf. Irving is currently planning a 2001 conference, which he says will take place in New Orleans.
RESPONSES TO RACISM AND ANTISEMITISM
The majority of states now have penalty-enhanced hate crime laws. Moreover, the Federal Hate Crime Statistics Act requires the Justice Department to acquire data on crimes which “manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity” from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual summary of its findings.
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, designed to eliminate gaps in federal authority to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, was approved by the Senate in July 1999 but eventually stripped from a congressional appropriations bill by conservative lawmakers. The issue, however, remained high on the national agenda, with legislation promoted as an important factor in deterrence.
In September, a jury awarded $6.3 million to a mother and son of part American Indian origin who were attacked by Aryan Nations guards outside the group’s northern Idaho headquarters. The jury found the group, its 82-year-old leader Pastor Richard Butler, and its corporate entity guilty, of negligence in the selection, training and supervision of the security guards. The judgment was large enough to cripple the group. In late October, Butler and 30 followers held a parade under the Aryan Nations banner and pledged to continue spreading their racist message in northern Idaho.
In November, Butler was forced to declare bankruptcy and liquidate his assets in order to pay off debts. The 20-acre Aryan Nations compound and the Aryan Nations name were legally handed over to the plaintiffs, forcing Butler to rename his organization the Aryan National Alliance.
Buford O’Neal Furrow, the 37-year-old former Aryan Nations guard who shot and killed a Filipino-American postal worker and wounded four youngsters and a receptionist at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, outside Los Angeles, California, in August 1999, received a life sentence in J2001.
Jeff Berry, leader of the Indiana-based Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was ordered to pay $120,000 to two television journalists who claimed that in November 1999 he had locked them in a room until they handed over their interview tapes, because he suspected their report would criticize the Klan. Berry was also charged with theft, conspiracy to commit intimidation and conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon.
San Diego-based Alex Curtis, a radical voice of the racist right, was arrested in November on three federal counts of conspiracy to violate civil rights. He hopes that a violent revolution will topple the United States government, which he considers “a Jew-occupied government,” and replace it with a “race-centered” government, with citizenship and residency restricted to “those of pure White ancestry.” Curtis employed the Internet, his Nationalist Observer magazine and telephone hotlines to spread his ideas.