UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 2002-3
The number of antisemitic
incidents in 2002 in the United
States increased by
eight percent from 2001. More dramatic was the 24 percent jump in antisemitic
incidents on American college campuses – the third consecutive annual increase.
Antisemitic incidents on campus grew out of anti-Israel or anti-Zionist
demonstrations related to events in the Middle East.
Conspiracy theorists and commentators proposed that Jews were to blame for America going to war in Iraq, while elements of the American anti-war
movement adopted a harsh anti-Israel tone. Several prominent extreme right
activists were on trial or had already begun serving prison sentences in
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
The Jewish community in the United
States, which constitutes the largest concentration of Jews in the world,
numbers 6.2 million and comprises 2.2 percent of the total population of 282.1
million. The bulk of American Jewry lives in major metropolitan areas and their
environs, including New York (1.45 million), Los Angeles (519,000), Southeast
Florida (498,000), Chicago (261,000), Boston (227,000), San Francisco Bay
(210,000), Philadelphia (206,000) and Cleveland (82,000). 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 52 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 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
The year 2002 was marked, on
the one hand, by growth and activity among extremist groups: the formation of
new white supremacist groups, such as White Revolution, which have developed
rapidly; new types of activity, such as right-wing vigilante groups patrolling
the US-Mexican border; a resurgence of older forms of activity, such as a tax
protest movement; and growth in the number of right-wing extremist websites, as
well as other forms of Internet expression such as mailing lists and online
discussion boards. On the other hand, the year witnessed a series of arrests
and indictments of prominent right-wing figures.
virulently antisemitic, white supremacist World Church of the Creator (WCOTC)
promotes the creation of “an all-white nation and ultimately an all-white
world,” rejecting Christianity outright in favor of its whites-only,
pseudo-religion “Creativity.” Since 1996 it has been led by Matt Hale, who calls
himself “Pontifex Maximus,” or “supreme leader.”
staffed by a small but dedicated cadre of members who run upwards of 50 contact
points across the US and another 10 abroad, in Australia, Belgium, Canada,
France, Norway and Sweden. Their mission is to disseminate WCOTC propaganda and
recruit new members to the cause, especially college students. The group
spreads its propaganda via the Internet and e-mail, as well as by dropping
booklets on lawns or inserting fliers in free newspapers. “Distribution
blitzes” are commonly held on dates of significance to the group, such as the
birthdays of Hale and of WCOTC founder Ben Klassen, who committed suicide in
been attempting to reinforce his control over the organization, following the
defections of prominent WCOTC leaders. A major split occurred in WCOTC during
2002 between Hale and Reverends Deardorff and Hassett of the WCOTC Northwest
chapter, over alleged financial crimes. Eventually Deardorff and Hassett
claimed to have appointed a colleague as the new leader of the WCOTC, and
issued statements that they had acquired leadership of the movement, although
other members did not take this seriously. In 2002, Matt Hale also attempted to
run for East Peoria City Council, a campaign which he eventually abandoned.
pivotal legal decision of November 2002, the WCOTC lost a copyright
infringement lawsuit brought against it by the Te-Ta-Ma Truth Foundation, which
had successfully trademarked the name “Church of the Creator” years before. A
federal judge ordered the WCOTC to stop using this name, to give up its web
addresses, and to turn over all printed material bearing the name. Hale responded
with racist and antisemitic statements when he was interviewed about this on a major
television network. He refused to comply with the court order and when in
January 2003 he arrived for a contempt of court hearing he was arrested for
soliciting the judge’s murder (see below). Hale remains in jail awaiting trial,
while members of the WCOTC and other white supremacist groups rally behind him.
Currently, Thomas Kroenke, appointed “Hasta Primus” or “Spearhead” of the WCOTC
before Hale’s arrest, is running some of the group’s operations in Wyoming.
neo-Nazi, Hillsboro, West Virginia-based National Alliance was led from
1974 by veteran antisemite and white supremacist William Pierce, until his
death in July 2002. Pierce had increased National Alliance activities,
membership and contacts in the past few years. He continually fashioned and
expanded a multimedia approach to recruitment, specifically targeting young
people through extensive, vicious, pseudo-intellectual propaganda available on
his website, hate-filled video games, and through the purchase of companies
that produce and distribute hate-rock music (see ASW 1999/2000
At the same time, the NA has tried to attract middle-class professionals
willing to be part of a dedicated cadre that carries out the group’s goals.
National Alliance is the largest and most active neo-Nazi organization in the
United States. Erich Gliebe, a former boxer who made his mark as head of NA’s
Ohio chapter and as manager of the group’s white power music company Resistance
Records, has taken over the organization’s reins. Under Gliebe, the group has continued
to maintain that its stated aim is “to build a better world and a better race”
and to create “a new government...answerable to White people only.” Billy
Roper, NA deputy membership coordinator, who had played a leading role in arranging
events and in creating alliances with other groups, including racist skinheads
and the WCOTC, was expelled from the organization and went on to form his own
group, White Revolution. Over the last several years, dozens of violent
crimes, including murders, bombings and robberies, have been traced to NA
members or appear to have been inspired by the group’s propaganda.
repeatedly blamed the Jews and Israel for the September 11 attacks. Since the
attacks, NA members, taking cues from Pierce’s anti-Israel radio broadcasts, have
protested Israeli actions on several occasions outside Israel’s Washington, DC
embassy. The group has invited other white supremacists to join the protests
and each rally has been bigger than the previous one. NA recently began trying
to infiltrate the anti-globalization movement, forming the Anti-Globalism
Action Network in June 2002. As one of their recruiting strategies, the NA
believes it can convince young anti-globalization activists that it shares
their anti-capitalist, anti-government views and should therefore be viewed as
between ultra-right-wing groups has been a noteworthy trend. A January 2002
gathering of a collection of groups in York, Pennsylvania, for a scheduled
appearance of WCOTC leader Matt Hale, waved swastika flags, gave the Nazi
salute and chanted racial slurs as they clashed with anti-racist and anarchist
protesters (see ASW 2001/2).
In August 2002, numerous groups jointly participated in rallies in Topeka,
Kansas, and in the “Rock against Israel” demonstration in Washington DC (see
below). In 2002, many extremist groups launched cross-promotional campaigns on
the Internet of the viciously racist video game “Ethnic Cleansing,” originally
a National Alliance product.
“Identity” movement promotes its racist, antisemitic agenda by manipulating
religious themes. It holds that people of white European ancestry are descended
from the Lost Tribes of Israel, making them the “chosen people” of the Bible.
Identity’s “two seed-line” theory asserts that only whites are descended from
Adam and Eve and that Jews originate from a sexual union between Eve and Satan.
notable “Identity” groups in the US today are America’s Promise Ministries of
Sandpoint, Idaho; Dan Gayman’s Schell City, Missouri, Church of Israel; Pete
Peters’ Laporte, Colorado-based Scriptures for America Worldwide; Elohim City
of Oklahoma; Carl Story and Vincent Bertollini’s 11th Hour Remnant Messenger of
Sandpoint, Idaho and Kingdom Identity Ministries in Harrison, Arkansas.
Nations, a paramilitary
neo-Nazi group formed in the mid-1970s, also subscribes to “Identity” ideology.
Aryan Nations was based in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and led by its founder, Richard
Butler, until forced to declare bankruptcy in late 2000 (see ASW 2000/1).
Membership has since fallen off significantly. A key factor hampering the
group’s rehabilitation is a split into four factions (see ASW 2001/2).
The radical and violence-prone Pennsylvania faction, led by August Kreis and
Charles John Juba, convened an Aryan Nations World Congress in July 2002, in an
attempt to emulate the Aryan Nations congresses held in Idaho in past years.
Aryan Nations created a Ministry of Islamic Liaison, on behalf of which Joshua
Caleb Sutter, a leader of Aryan Nations, wrote a letter to Saddam Husayn
supporting his regime and slandering Israel. Sutter was arrested in early 2003,
allegedly for attempting to purchase illegal firearms. On 24 August 2002, AN
sponsored “Rock against Israel,” an anti-Israel rally in Washington DC. It was
attended by about 1000 racists from a conglomerate of extremist groups,
including the National Alliance, National Socialist Movement and the WCOTC.
Dallas in the late 1980s, the white supremacist Hammerskin Nation, the
most violent and best-organized neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States, is
composed almost exclusively of young white males, among whom the group actively
recruits. As is often characteristic of racist skinheads, a number of its
members have been convicted of violent crimes, including harassing, beating or
murdering members of minority groups.
popular racist rock music bands are affiliated to the Hammerskin Nation, which
regularly sponsors hate rock concerts. The Hammerskins have an estimated 19
chapters in the US and their website lists chapters in several other countries,
including Canada, England, France, the Netherlands and Germany. This is in
keeping with a recent trend among American white supremacist and neo-Nazi
groups to forge alliances, both with each other and with their European
counterparts. However, in 2001 the group ceased publication of its newsletter
and appeared to have difficulty maintaining its website, indicating possible
organizational problems. At the same time, the Hammerskin splinter group known
as the Outlaw Hammerskins has expanded. Many Outlaw members attended the 2002
Nordic Fest hosted by the Imperial Klans of America.
Minnesota-based neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM)
has contact points throughout the US and believes in racial separation and
minimal intervention of government in the lives of its citizens. NSM
grew rapidly in 2002, adding a number of chapters, and gaining a higher profile
through increased activity, particularly with other groups such as National
Alliance and WCOTC. On 23 November 2002, NSM participated in a “White Unity” rally in
Milwaukee, which was also endorsed by the KKK, the WCOTC and Aryan Nations. In
2002, NSM began broadcasting on public access
television in Minneapolis.
Lobby, founded in 1955
by Willis Carto, was for years the most influential antisemitic propaganda
organization in the United States. Liberty Lobby had considerable impact on
right-wing extremism through its weekly Spotlight, its national radio
programs, “Radio Free America” and “Editor’s Roundtable,” and the monthly Barnes
Review (see ASW 2000/1).
The antisemitic and anti-Israel American Free Press, which succeeded
Liberty Lobby’s original publication Spotlight (see ASW 2001/2),
accused Israel and the Mossad of being behind the World Trade Center attacks.
Klux Klan leader David Duke found a receptive audience for his antisemitic
message in Russia (see ASW 2000/1).
He lived in Russia and the Ukraine for almost three years, from 2000 to 2002,
where he gave lectures and wrote articles promoting his antisemitic theories.
In October 2002 he was invited to Bahrain by the Discover Islam Center, an
educational institute, to discuss “The Global Struggle against Zionism” and “Israeli
Involvement in the September 11 Attacks.” He was also a guest on the
Qatar-based al-Jazeera Arab television station. Duke’s theories have been embraced
in the Middle East, where there has been a growing acceptance of Holocaust
denial and other anti-Jewish beliefs. Duke’s organization NOFEAR was renamed
EURO (European-American Unity and Rights Organization) in 2001, following a
lawsuit over the name (see ASW 2001/2).
mid-December 2002, Duke returned to the US and pleaded guilty to charges of
mail fraud, bilking his supporters of money, and filing a false tax return. Though
the charges were not directly related to Duke’s racist and antisemitic
activities, they were the result of his years of white supremacist outreach to
his followers. In the weeks preceding his March 2003 sentencing, Duke continued
to give public lectures on affirmative action and the situation in Iraq. In
April 2003, he began serving a 15-month prison sentence (see also below).
of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, headed by Jeff Berry of
Butler, Indiana, is one of the most active Klan (KKK) organizations in America.
Prior to his arrest and imprisonment (see ASW 2001/2),
Berry was a leading Klan figure in America. His group held frequent rallies in
cities including New York and others throughout the Midwest and the South.
Other active Klan groups include the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) and
the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The IKA hold an annual “Nordic Fest”
event featuring White Power concerts, which attracts neo-Nazis and racist skinheads.
Most Klan groups are virulently antisemitic.
groups in the United
States have decreased in number in the past few years, but still pose a
criminal threat, as they encourage turning anti-government sentiment into
action. Although most militia groups claim to be non-racist, some militia
members have expressed racism or antisemitism (see ASW 2000/1,
Militias are most active in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and California. Some
leaders of the movement, including Mark Koernke of Michigan and Charlie Puckett
of Kentucky, are serving jail terms.
Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI),
has been an active participant in the vehemently anti-war and anti-American
movement since the September 11 attacks. While he has toned down his antisemitic
rhetoric over the past few years, Farrakhan has not completely abandoned, nor has he ever
taken responsibility for his past antisemitism. His sermons and speeches
have denounced US foreign policy in the Middle East, and he has repeatedly
declared solidarity with Saddam Husayn, and visited Iraq to meet with Saddam Husayn
in July, 2002. There Farrakhan met with Husayn’s Islamic affairs minister, and
was quoted by Iraq’s state-run media as saying that American Muslims were
praying for an Iraqi victory in a war with the United States. Just before he
left on that mission, Farrakhan denounced the United States,
calling the US Congress a “lynch mob,” and President Bush the “leader of a
spoke to an audience in London on 22 December 2002 via satellite link from a
mosque in Phoenix, Arizona, condemning the United States’ position of dominance
in the world as a continuation of the British form of colonization by culture. Farrakhan
has been barred from entering the United Kingdom for nearly 17 years by an
exclusion order of the British government based on Farrakhan’s antisemitic and
racially divisive views (see also UK). On 22 March 2002 Farrakhan had told more than 300
people in Kingston, Jamaica that Jews in Britain had “used their influence to
keep me out of the United Kingdom.”
2003 Saviours’ Day Speech, given on 23 February in Chicago and broadcast live
via satellite to over 100 locations nationwide, Farrakhan’s speeches had been
relatively restrained. However, he took this opportunity to criticize the Bush
administration for its threat of war against Iraq, as well as to attack
homosexuals and cite conspiracy theories against Jews and Israel. Farrakhan
spoke in an apocalyptic vein, prophesying the imminent downfall of the United
States for its stance on Iraq. Farrakhan, now 70, stated, not for the first
time, that this speech would be his last in public. He called the “warmongers”
in the Bush administration “poor Israeli Zionists,” who have “literally gotten
America’s foreign policy to protect Israel,” and labeled “Daniel Pearl, or
Richard Perle, Wolfowitz, and Kristol” Zionist agents. Responding to criticism,
Farrakhan said, “I don’t hate Jews. I honor and respect those who try to live
according to the teaching of the Torah, but you can’t criticize Jewish people. If
you criticize them you are antisemitic… The Bible says, Revelations, those who
say they are Jews and are not, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan... no
man can say he’s a Jew and promote homosexuality; no man can say he’s a Jew and
promote that which is against the commandments of God; no man can say he’s a
Jew and run despicable, degenerate movies.”
In addition to Farrakhan’s inflammatory comments, The
Final Call, the NOI online publication, recently included a link to an
article titled, “Fact Sheet on the ADL” by Holocaust denier, self-styled
conspiracy researcher and rabid Christian fundamentalist Michael Hoffman. The NOI also links to the antisemitic
Nation of Aztlan website (via the NOI’s student association page). The
NOI continues to sell The Secret
Relationship between Blacks and Jews on its website. Authors of The
Secret Relationship argue essentially that the history of slavery in the
New World was initiated by Jewish ship owners and merchants, who as a group
remained the main beneficiaries of the slave economy and who “"carved for
themselves a monumental culpability in slavery.”
In addition, NOI recently won greater access to US prisons. In a ruling
filed on 19 March 2003, three NOI members won a case in the United States Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit against Pennsylvania’s prisons. The plaintiffs had been
barred access to NOI literature while incarcerated by the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections. This was ruled a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the
First Amendment, allowing NOI literature to be considered primary religious materials
in Pennsylvania’s prisons, and guaranteeing prisoners access to Nation of Islam
literature for prisoners even in solitary confinement.
Malik Shabazz, national chairman of the New Black
Panther Party, a racist and antisemitic black nationalist group, continued
to make anti-Jewish and racist statements at public events throughout 2002. On 20
April 2002, Shabazz led the New Black Panthers in a demonstration in front of
the B’nai B’rith building in Washington, DC. They had large posters reading
“The American Israeli White Man is the Devil” and “The State of Israel Has No
Right to Exist” and chanted “Death to Israel,” “The white man is the devil” and
“Jihad.” Shabazz also added: “Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little
babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!” In October 2002,
during protests against the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee at the
pro-Israel lobby’s national summit meetings in Atlanta, Georgia, Shabazz, along
with nine other members of the New Black Panther Party, led chants blaming
“so-called Jews” for the slave trade and for killing Jesus.
On 18 July 2002, Shabazz held a press conference in
front of the courthouse for the US Eastern District Court of Virginia, following
the pre-trial hearing of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Moroccan indicted for
conspiring with Usama bin Ladin in the September 11 attacks. Shabazz said he
was interested in helping Moussaoui’s defense. Shabazz had blamed the September
11 attacks on Zionism (see ASW 2001/2).
The Nation of Aztlan, a small California-based
Latino group that has emerged as virulently antisemitic, had responded
similarly to the September 11 attacks, Hector Carreon, editor of its
publication La Voz de Aztlan later blamed the Florida anthrax outbreak
and the anthrax-laced letters sent to television news anchorman Tom Brokaw and
US Senator Tom Daschle as the work of Jews/Zionists, claiming, “Jews had an
illustrious history in biological research.” Everyone assumes that the dangers
we face come from Islamic terrorists, Carreon wrote, “but our experience has
been different. We fear Zionist terrorists more. They have been trying to take
away our constitutional right of freedom of political expression through acts
of terrorism.” He recently wrote that the large Mexican-American population in
Los Angeles might end up being the indirect victims of a justified massive
biological or nuclear attack upon the city that targets the area’s Zionists.
La Voz de Aztlan continues to claim Jews control the
US government and the media. Following US Congressman James Moran’s comments
that if it weren’t for “the strong support of the Jewish community for this war
with Iraq, we would not be doing this,” Ernesto Cienfuegos, another editor of
the publication, joined the chorus blaming Jews for the US war in Iraq. Cienfuegos
wrote, “It is the Jews, however, that are orchestrating the varied interests
involved in pushing the war” so that Israel can take over the entire Middle
East and have an opportunity to “implement an ‘ethnic cleansing program’ in
Palestine.” La Voz de Aztlan has links to a page containing a petition
to stop US aid to Israel and supporting the prosecution of Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon for crimes against humanity. To underscore the Nation of Aztlan’s belief
in Jewish control of US domestic politics, Cienfuegos described California
Governor Gray Davis as the “Manjewrian Candidate,” a pun on the movie title The
Manchurian Candidate, about communists using mind control techniques to
take over the US government.
La Voz de Aztlan also focuses on Jews and the media,
blaming “the Jew Aaron Spelling of Spelling Television, Inc. and the Jewish
controlled NBC Television Network” for the negative images of Mexicans and
Mexican-Americans on television, and supports Mel Gibson’s effort to show the
“the cruel and heinous crucifixion of Jesus a little more than 2000 years ago
by the Pharisees” in a controversial upcoming film entitled The Passion.
groups, including the various white supremacist organizations, Klan factions
and “Identity” churches, remain unremitting sources of anti-Jewish hostility
and conspiracy theories. Smaller extremist and neo-Nazi groups operating
Internet sites continue to reach an audience that is disproportionate to their
size. While most antisemitic activity in the US has been limited to hate
propaganda, members of extremist organizations and their associates sometimes
engage in threats, violence and vandalism.
total number of antisemitic incidents in 2002 increased slightly from 2001.
More striking, however, was the 24 percent increase in campus incidents. After
a five-year trend of decline, campus incidents have risen for three consecutive
years. Many of the 2002 incidents grew out of anti-Israel or “anti-Zionist”
demonstrations or other actions in which some participants engaged in overt
expression of anti-Jewish sentiments, including name-calling directed at Jewish
students, placards comparing the Star of David to a swastika or vandalism of
Jewish property, such as Hillel buildings. One of the most troubling episodes
took place at the University of Colorado, where Jewish students were confronted
by an angry, threatening crowd yelling “Nazis!” and other epithets as they held
a peace vigil in September 2002. In the ensuing weeks, “Jews rot in Hell” was
spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity house, and a Sukkah was defaced with a
2002, forty-one states and the District of Columbia reported 1,559 antisemitic
incidents. That figure was up more than 8 percent from the 1,432 incidents
reported in 2001.
Violence, Vandalism and Harassment
two-thirds, or 1,028, of all incidents reported in 2002 consisted of acts of
harassment, including intimidation, threats and physical and verbal assaults directed
at individuals and institutions), a 17 percent increase over 2001. This is
probably due to the fact that those hostile toward Jews are resorting to forums
such as Internet chat rooms, bulletin board and e-mail in greater numbers.
There were 531 reports of antisemitic vandalism (including property damage,
cemetery desecration and antisemitic graffiti) in 2002, the lowest in 20 years
and a four percent decrease from 2001. Over the past three years, the number of
vandalism incidents reported annually has declined by 27 percent. This decrease
may be attributable to the increased focus of Jewish institutions on security,
in light of current events, as well as the increased presence of law
enforcement agents working with communities to prevent attacks.
states showing the largest numbers of reported incidents in 2002 were New York:
302 (down from 408 in 2001); California: 223 (up from 122 in 2001); New Jersey:
171 (down from 192); Massachusetts: 129 (up from 126); Pennsylvania: 101 (up
from 61); and Florida: 93 (down from 115).
the most serious incidents reported in 2002 were three arson attacks, three
attempted arson attacks, one attempted bombing, six bomb threats and seven
cemetery desecrations. A synagogue in Oakland, California, sustained thousands
of dollars of damage in an arson incident in May. In Nashville, Tennessee,
police arrested a man who was seen aiming a gun at a synagogue; a later search
of the man’s home turned up a large cache of weapons as well as antisemitic
hate literature from the neo-Nazi group National Alliance. More than 120
gravestones were overturned in three separate attacks on the Hebrew Cemetery of
Auburn, in Worcester, Massachusetts; more than 150 headstones were toppled at
the Baron Hirsch Cemetery, the largest Jewish cemetery in the Staten Island
borough of New York.
The Ku Klux Klan,
World Church of the Creator, National Alliance, Christian Identity groups and
others continue to canvass neighborhoods, generally under cover of darkness, by
dropping off propaganda (often downloaded from the Internet and printed out)
that is placed on people’s lawns or stuffed inside newspapers.
created in 2002 included anti-Israel materials (some implying the September 11
attacks were a result of US support for Israel) that were replicated, as indicated
above, across the spectrum of extremist groups, both on the right and the left,
and included a variety of antisemitic images.
Conspiracy Theories: Blaming
Jews for the Iraq Crisis
Since autumn 2002,
and particularly in spring 2003, public remarks about the Iraq crisis
increasingly implicated Israel and American Jews (see also General
Analysis). While most observers
remained fair-minded in assessing the many other factors that influence US
policy, a number of commentators have stated or implied that Israel, and
high-ranking Americans Jews in the Bush administration, were pushing the US
into war – forcing it against its own interests to undertake what has variously
been called “Israel’s war” and “a war for the Jews.”
While the idea that the US
government acts at the behest of Israel – and is steered by Jewish
dual-loyalists – is not new, expressions of this conspiratorial mindset have
usually arisen on the fringes of American politics. Current manifestations
indicate, however, that this is no longer the case. In addition, attributions of
conspiratorial Jewish power lead to distrust and the scapegoating of Jews,
particularly in anxious times. When endorsed or unanswered by public figures,
these ideas enter and poison the mainstream, threatening widespread contagion.
The use of the
Internet by extremists continued to develop and expand in 2002. There are
literally hundreds of websites that spread racism and antisemitism, as well as
expressing Holocaust denial. Virtually every major extremist and racist group
based in the United States has some form of Internet presence. Extremists and
groups with established hate sites include white supremacist David Duke, the
neo-Nazi National Alliance, Matt Hale and the WCOTC, “Identity” Churches, and a
host of neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, “Aryan” women’s groups and Klan chapters.
Holocaust denial groups such as the Institute for Historical Review and the
Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, as well as a number of militia
groups and conspiracy theorists, are also accessible online.
has been utilized by antisemites and racists to create an electronic community
of hate to help further their goals. The antisemitic materials that are shared
online often spread to a variety of lists and sites – including those of Islamic
extremists. In some cases, materials produced by those on the right have even
been reproduced in the mainstream Arab press – notably an essay by David Duke
that was subsequently run on 15 May 2002 in Arab News, the
English-language paper in Saudi Arabia. Some sites, such as Stormfront,
compile listings of upcoming events sponsored by a variety of organizations.
increasing sophistication of sites of various groups is evident. Website
visitors are often greeted by flash videos and music playing, along with
original artwork and cartoons. Numerous sites are updated with new materials
and links to news stories every day.
ATTITUDES TOWARD THE HOLOCAUST AND THE NAZI ERA
If in the past the California-based
Institute for Historical Review IHR was the nexus around which most Holocaust
denial activity in the US converged, it is now merely another component in a
loose federation of independent deniers with their own websites and activities.
While IHR still plays a role in the Holocaust denial scene – with IHR director
Mark Weber serving as a spokesperson for embattled fellow-denier Ernst
Zündel (see below), and with IHR’s website hosting an increasingly
complete archive of articles from its Journal of Historical Review (JHR)
– new issues of JHR have grown increasingly sporadic and no new IHR
conferences are planned. This may be due largely to financial troubles that IHR
has suffered and its inability to collect on court rulings in its favor, in its
case against estranged founder Willis Carto.
Almost all the traditional
Holocaust deniers have taken a great interest in secondary themes, such as
anti-Israel propaganda, anti-US and anti-establishment rhetoric, conspiracy
theories and Jewish power. A major exception is Germar Rudolf, a newcomer to
the US Holocaust denial scene, who is attempting to bring Holocaust denial back
to its roots. To that end, Rudolf started The Revisionist, a print
magazine which features articles making highly technical arguments for such
ideas as the alleged impossibility of the Nazis having dug burial trenches in
various concentration camps, performing open-air cremations, or massacring
people with Zyklon B. The articles are almost all translated from the
German-language Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, a
quarterly edited by Germar Rudolf since 1997.
A relatively new theme that
has gained the attention of Holocaust deniers is “Jewish supremacism,” which
generally involves distorting the religious writings of Judaism so as to allege
that contemporary Jews engage in a variety of criminal activities against
non-Jews. Michael A. Hoffman II and David Duke are the main expositors of such
claims, but other Holocaust deniers such as Ingrid Rimland, Mark Weber and
Robert Countess have also incorporated this theme into their writings and
Two Holocaust deniers have
recently run afoul of US law: David Duke (see above) and Ernst Zündel, who
came to the United States in February 2001 after losing his long-running suit
for Canadian citizenship, and was arrested by officials of the US Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) on 5 February 2003, after overstaying
his visa. He was deported to Canada, where he had lived for 43 years (see Canada).
RESPONSES TO RACISM AND ANTISEMITISM
As of March 2003, forty-six states and
the District of Columbia now have penalty-enhanced hate crime laws. The New
Mexico state legislature passed the most recent hate crimes penalty enhancement
bill, defining a hate crime and laying out penalties for perpetrators of crimes
that are proven by the District Attorney to be motivated by hate. 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.
A March 2003 US Supreme Court decision
upheld the constitutionality of a Virginia state law banning cross burning. In
its ruling in Virginia v. Black, the Court voted 6-3 to uphold a state
statute that outlaws the use of a burning cross as a means of threatening
another person, but not for other purposes.
WCOTC leader Matt Hale was
arrested on 8 January 2003 at a Chicago courthouse on charges of soliciting the
murder of a federal judge and obstruction of justice. According to the
indictment, Hale solicited an individual to forcibly assault and murder US
District Judge Joan Lefkow, who was presiding over a trademark infringement
case involving WCOTC. If convicted of soliciting murder, Hale would face a
maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000; the
obstruction of justice count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison
and a $250,000 fine.
Imprisoned white supremacist
James Tyler Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder on 28 February
2003, in Shasta County, California, Superior Court. Williams, 32, admitted to
helping his older brother, Benjamin Matthew Williams, kill a gay couple, in
their Happy Valley, California, home in 1999. The plea deal enables Williams to
avoid the death penalty. Williams, who said he was following instructions from
God to execute homosexuals, also pleaded guilty to hate crime charges. Williams
has been incarcerated since November 2001, when he and his brother received
lengthy prison sentences for setting fire to three synagogues
in Sacramento, California, and a building housing an abortion clinic in 1999.
Prosecutors described the brothers as known extremists who followed hate groups
such as WCOTC and Aryan Nations. Benjamin Matthew Williams committed
suicide in his Shasta County jail cell on 17 November 2002.
In May 2003, a jury found Lemrick
Nelson guilty of violating the civil rights of rabbinical student Yankel
Rosenbaum, whom he killed during the infamous Crown Heights, Brooklyn, riots of
August 1991. In a dramatic departure from previous
trials, the defense did not deny that Nelson stabbed had Rosenbaum, but claimed
instead that Nelson had been drunk at the time and was motivated by a mob
mentality. Nelson’s earlier federal conviction had been thrown out by an
appeals court that faulted the trial judge for tampering with the jury’s racial