President Harry Truman once wrote, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
But sometimes what you don’t know can put you at risk — or worse.
Nicholas Rose of Irvine, a 26-year-old teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL), faces a six-year-plus sentence for recent violent anti-Semitic threats against prominent Jews in the entertainment industry. Luckily, he was turned in by his parents.
Rose was arrested in a rented room, accused of possessing 22-caliber ammunition, anti-Semitic literature and “kill lists” of Hollywood Jews. His goal: “Killing my first Jew.” Forget ESL, Rose’s only true language involved menacing threats targeting a Russian Orthodox church and a Greek Orthodox church he believed favored “the Jewish cause,” as well as a local synagogue. His anti-Semitic fixation was clear. The chilling association with April 20 — Hitler’s birthday — was no coincidence.
Here in Southern California, home to Hollywood, there is a historic precedent for a Jew “kill list.” Nazi sympathizers during the 1930s who planned to terrorize the Hollywood Jewish community were not lone wolves.
Police are searching Rose’s computer to see whether he was a member of a hate group. Rose might be a “lone wolf” terrorist wannabee. Some 20 years ago, another domestic terrorist “lone wolf,” Buford O. Furrow Jr., came to Los Angeles from a white-supremacist compound in Hayden’s Lake, Idaho. He failed to penetrate his first target, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, but succeeded in a shooting rampage terrorizing a Jewish community center and killing a Filipino American mailman.
Here in Southern California, home to Hollywood, there is a historic precedent for a Jew “kill list.” Nazi sympathizers during the 1930s who planned to terrorize the Hollywood Jewish community were not lone wolves. British-born Leopold McLaglen arrived in Los Angeles in 1937, possibly to try to follow in the career footsteps of his Academy Award-winning brother, actor Victor McLaglen. A veteran of the British army, Leopold McLaglen combined pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic fervor with international renown as a lethal jiu-jitsu expert and authority on espionage and military explosives. He was quickly drawn into the circles of the fascist Silver Shirts and the German American Bund. He also began to work for Philip M. Chancellor, a millionaire socialite who shared his rabid, right-wing views and, according to Leopold McLaglen, agreed to finance his violent plots against communists and Jews.
Leopold McLaglen formed an alliance with three men he met at Los Angeles’ Nazi-frequented Hindenburg Park: convicted forger Henry Allen, California Silver Shirt leader Kenneth Alexander, and ferry captain Charles Slocombe. Their allies included San Francisco German consul Manfred von Killinger, Herman Schwinn of the German American Bund, and local White Russian leader George Doombadze. Unfortunately for the conspirators, Slocombe was an undercover agent working for Leon Lewis of the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (LAJCC).
McLaglen and co-conspirators planned to use millionaire Chancellor’s money to hire “Nazi boys and White Russians” to assassinate a Who’s Who of Hollywood — 24 prominent Jews including Charlie Chaplin, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Eddy Cantor, Paul Muni and Sam Goldwyn. McLaglen boasted about how he would use dynamite bombs to blow up Hollywood luminaries’ homes. Doombadze said that he had learned a trick or two from his Russian uncle who had planned pogroms in Odessa. A final McLaglen twist was his scheme to blow up yachts carrying fleeing Jews in Los Angeles Harbor.
A Los Angeles Herald-Express headline screamed in November 1937: “Plot to Massacre Rich L.A. Jews Probed.” Los Angeles law enforcement, from the sheriff’s department to the district attorney’s office, launched a publicity campaign to obscure its incompetence and occasional complicity in connection with the plot. The real heroes — Slocombe and Lewis of the LAJCC — deserved the credit for defusing the conspiracy before it resulted in mass murder. Only McLaglen was convicted of a crime. Found guilty of extorting Chancellor, he was deported in 1940.
Proscription or “death lists” date back to ancient Rome. In our time, however, it is vital to understand the proliferation of various “lists” targeting Jews:
• List of “influential Italian Jews” posted in the Italian section of Stormfront.org.
• Jew traitors master list: Prominent Jews in the Obama administration posted by Stormfront.org
• Anti-multikulti watch: A Czech website continues to post lists of Jews, Muslims, immigrants and other “non-whites” giving addresses, phone numbers and other personal information.
• Swindlers list: Alleging then-President Barack Obama and his top advisers were controlled by Jews as a part of the Rothschild conspiracy to control the world.
• MPAC/UK published a list of Jewish donors to Israel. “The names and addresses of wealthy Zionist Jews can be found in the lists of sponsors and contributors of Zionist Charities.”
• In Sweden in 2018, Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish cemetery in Malmo only three days after marchers there promised that “we are going to shoot the Jews.” (The Simon Wiesenthal Center placed a travel advisory on Malmo in 2010, because officials there refused to act against anti-Semitic hate crimes. Eight years later, the advisory is still in effect.)
• In 2016, terrorist group ISIS declares war on Jews everywhere: “The war against these Jews is the duty of every Muslim, but this duty applies especially to the people of Beit Al-Maqdis [Palestine], for they are [geographically] closest to them.”
• In Italy, also in 2016, police nabbed four people suspected of conspiring to carry out attacks on behalf of ISIS against the Israeli embassy in Rome as well as the Vatican. “I want to hit Israel in Rome,” Abderrahim Moutahrrick told another suspect in an intercepted conversation.
There may be great distance in time and technology between the Nazi and fascist networks in Los Angeles before World War II, wrote Steven J. Ross in “Hitler in Los Angeles” (2017), and 21st-century extreme “alt-right” crackpots and anti-Semitic fanboys like Nicholas Rose. What connects these bigots from two centuries is their embrace of the world’s oldest hate — anti-Semitism — and especially their hatred of the Jews, whose only “sin” was in making Hollywood, America’s and the world’s dream capital.
Don’t count on the social media giants to significantly degrade the marketing capabilities of today’s dangerous haters. It will always fall — first and foremost — to Jews to step up to defend our own.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean and director of global social action. Harold Brackman is a historian and serves as a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.