UPDATE: When asked for comment, Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Digital Director Neil Strauss referred the Journal to the RJC’s statement on Charlottesville in 2017, which read, “We mourn the loss of life at Charlottesville this weekend, and will continue to pray for all those impacted. Anti-Semitism and all forms of hate are anti-American, anti-Jewish, and antithetical to any sense of decency. We regret that we continue to be faced with these issues, but the RJC will never shy away from our role of standing up to racists, fascists, and Nazis.”
Strauss also told the Journal, “I would also reiterate that we don’t believe racism and anti-Semitism have any place in our political system or civilized society.”
Some Jewish groups are denouncing the upcoming “Unite the Right 2” white supremacist rally, which is happening a year after the infamous Charlottesville rally.
The Unite the Right 2 rally is taking place on August 12, where neo-Nazis and white supremacists will be marching from Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square in front of the White House, where alt-right figures, such as known anti-Semite Paul Nehlen, will be speaking. Organizers of the rally have stated that swastika flags are not allowed, but American and Confederate flags are.
Jewish Democratic Council for America (JDCA) condemned the upcoming protest.
“The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) condemns in the strongest possible terms the Unite the Right rally in our nation’s capital this weekend,” the JDCA said in a statement. “This protest, marking one year since the horrific events in Charlottesville, promises to be another display of the racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry that has grown in our country during the Trump administration. We implore protestors to demonstrate peacefully, and applaud the Metropolitan Police Department for taking every measure to prevent the rally from devolving into violence.”
The JDCA also denounced the various white supremacist and neo-Nazis running as Republicans in the November election.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is calling on people to “reject white supremacists’ message of hate.”
“Since Charlottesville, white supremacist violence has impacted communities across the country,” the ADL’s action page states. “But the backlash of everyday Americans against their hateful ideology has proven a strong deterrent. Together, America is stronger than hate and our values are stronger than bigotry.”
Palestinian Congressional Candidate Has Made A Litany of Anti-Israel Statements
A couple of pro-Israel activists were assaulted by neo-Nazis at a Swedish festival on July 5 after the activists attempted to stop their demonstration.
The neo-Nazis, part of a group called the Nordic Resistance Movement, were outside a pavilion on Gotland and were going to adorn the Israeli flag with their banner. Christina Toledano Asbrink, who is part of the Israel-Sweden Friendship Association, tried to prevent the Nordic Resistance Movement, prompting the neo-Nazis to shake and shove her to the ground.
Israel-Sweden Friendship Association Secretary-General Stefan Dozzi rescued Toledano Asbrink from the neo-Nazis, who were trying to kick and attack her. Dozzi sustained light injuries from the attack.
“I’m so damn pissed and upset,” Toledano Asbrink told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “But we will not be cowed into silence. We’re still here.”
No arrests have been made yet.
The festival was part of Almedalen Week, where various Swedes gather to discuss human rights and other political matters. The Israel-Sweden Friendship Association is a pro-Israel Christian organization.
UK Labour Party Under Fire for Lackluster Anti-Semitism Guidelines
The neo-Nazi organization that is connected to the man who allegedly murdered 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein lavished praise for Bernstein’s death in a series of chat messages obtained by Pro Publica.
The chats among Atomwaffen Division (AWD) members showed them making “jokes about his slaying and used slurs to describe” Bernstein.
One member gushed, “I love this” in response to Bernstein’s death and another praised Woodward as a “one man gay Jew wrecking crew.”
Another member, identified as Sean Michael Fernandez, who leads the AWD chapter in Texas, hoped that Bernstein’s death would only be the beginning.
“We’re only going to inspire more ‘copycat crimes’ in the name of AWD,” Fernandez said. “All we have to do is spread our image and our propaganda. The growing fear is what we set out to do and it’s working EXACTLY how I wanted it to since we took over ‘leadership.’ I couldn’t have planned this better, seriously.”
However, one member stated that he thought Samuel Woodward, Bernstein’s alleged killer, “did something stupid.”
“Not that the f––––– k––– didn’t deserve to die,” the member said. “Just simply not worth a life in prison for.”
Others were angry that the media wasn’t celebrating Woodward.
Woodward’s chats in the group show him denigrating Jews and gays while praising Mein Kampf and the German terror group National Socialist Underground. He liked the idea of people raping women who are minorities in order to “force them to carry around the spawn of their master and enemy.”
Other messages from Woodward’s Kik account show him praising ISIS:
Here, in a message from Sam Woodward’s Kik account, he confirms he was involved with Atomwaffen murderer Devon Arthurs (https://t.co/4j7KiklKFp). Woodward then goes on to endorse ISIS, saying:
Following Bernstein’s murder, Woodward’s chats “became highly sentimental,” as one of his messages stated, “hey everyone, i just wanted to let you all know i love you so much.”
As the Journal has previously reported, AWD celebrates Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson and calls for a violent race war. Four other people associated with AWD have been charged with murders and another plead guilty to owning explosives. Other chat messages obtained Pro Publica show one AWD member discussing the possibility of launching a terror attack on America’s power grid.
There are around 80 AWD members in 23 states across the country.
Woodward was arrested for murdering Bernstein after DNA evidence connected him to the crime; Woodward has plead not guilty.
News Reports Link Suspected Bernstein Killer to Neo-Nazi Groups
The man suspected of killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein in Orange County earlier this month is alleged to have had connections to a neo-Nazi organization connected to other slayings.
According to ProPublica, three people who know the suspect, 20-year-old Samuel Woodward of Newport Beach, have said that he used to be involved with Atomwaffen Division (AWD), a neo-Nazi group that started in 2016 and celebrates Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson. AWD members are required to read the writings of James Mason, the former American Nazi Party member who founded the Universal Order movement based on Manson’s fanatical ideas, The Times of Israel reported.
Woodward was scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 2 and, as of the Journal’s press deadline, prosecutors reportedly were still deciding whether to charge him with a hate crime.
AWD’s propaganda campaign includes disseminating posters that openly call for violence against minorities and promoting its reasons for a race war. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of AWD’s posters shows a man being hanged under a sign that reads, “FOLLOW YOUR FELLOW FAGGOTS”; another depicts the American flag with a Star of David burning under a swastika and reads, “A NEW ORDER WILL RISE FROM THE ASHES OF THE KIKE SYSTEM.” The ADL counted eight instances of AWD members posting flyers on college campuses. One such flyer read, “Where will you be when the race war begins? When the world burns?”
AWD has posted propaganda videos that feature members dressed in camouflage with skull-like bandanas tied across the bottom of their faces, shouting, “Gas the kikes! Race war now!” while they fire guns.
The self-described “armed fascist organization” holds what it calls a “hate camp,” where it inculcates its members with military-type training and exercises. Its name, “Atomwaffen,” translates to “nuclear weapons” and its endgame is to overthrow “the U.S. government through the use of terrorism and guerrilla warfare,” according to ProPublica.
AWD has been connected to numerous murders and terror plots. The ProPublica report points to one of AWD’s founding members, Devon Arthurs, murdering two of his roommates who were “Atomwaffen loyalists” after Arthurs converted to radical Islam. The report also notes that another of Arthurs’ roommates had collected explosives to use on a Miami nuclear power plant and highlights an instance in Virginia where an AWD supporter allegedly murdered his girlfriend’s parents before killing himself.
The neo-Nazi organization’s website states that recruits are being taken on an invitation-only basis, and no recruits are being sought at this time.
ProPublica reporter Jake Hanrahan tweeted some evidence that Woodward was connected to AWD, including Woodward’s description of himself as an “NS” (National Socialist), and the fact that one of Woodward’s accounts on the Kik messaging app featured AWD’s nuclear sign. Hanrahan also tweeted a list of books that Woodward purportedly said “shaped my political philosophy.” The list included books such as Markus Willinger’s “Generation Identity,” the ideological basis for the Identitarian movement that alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer subscribe to; and Savitri Devi’s “The Lightning and the Sun,” which argues that Hitler’s genocidal and tyrannical actions were necessary to bring forth a new “golden age.” Devi herself was “one of Hitler’s most devoted admirers,” according to Amazon.com’s description of the book.
On his book list, Woodward drew an arrow pointing at Devi’s book and wrote, “Literally the most insane —-ing book in the history of politics or literature lmao.”
Hanrahan also tweeted photos he alleged were of Woodward participating in AWD’s training exercises.
Hanrahan added in his tweets that Woodward eventually exited the AWD because he viewed its members as “posers,” although Hanrahan could not confirm that statement. Hanrahan said Woodward then joined another neo-Nazi organization through the fascist website IronMarch.org, which is no longer operating.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported there is a photo of Woodward pretending to smash someone’s skull with his foot, a reenactment of the 1998 film “American History X” that focuses on a neo-Nazi.
“Whilst it’s not proof of motive in the killing of Blaze Bernstein, I dare say it’s worth looking at considering Blaze was a gay Jewish man,” Hanrahan tweeted.
Bernstein and Woodward met at the Orange County School of Arts. The two reportedly went to Borrego Park on Jan. 2, the night Bernstein went missing. His body was found a week later with more than 20 stab wounds. According to the Orange County Register, “Woodward told investigators” — with a clenched jaw and fists — “that Bernstein kissed him on the lips, and that he pushed Bernstein away.”
CBS Los Angeles reported that Woodward was arrested after authorities discovered DNA evidence that connected Woodward to the murder.
People often ask me how many years it has been since my father’s death. I never want to answer. For them, it may be counted in years or even decades — such a long time. For me, it feels like yesterday. Some might say the trauma of his death is still with me, but I would say that his presence remains so vivid in my life that talking about his death feels odd and unreal.
My father, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, has been present in my life this past year with particular strength because of the many horrors that I know would have been devastating for him to witness. He always used to reassure me that the Nazis were defeated, that the United States was safe, that what happened would never happen again. To see the KKK marching in the streets, neo-Nazis celebrating, with ugly racism coming from the White House — and so much more — I know he would again be pacing the floor, unable to sleep, as he was pacing and sleepless over the horrors of the Vietnam War.
Today the Jewish world seems horrifically engaged in a kind of internal civil war, a war that is anything but civil. For my father, life was precious, every moment. He used to say, time is life, and to “kill time” is to commit murder. He was intensely engaged at every moment. The efforts today by Jews to attack and try to destroy one another out of political disagreements would have horrified my father. Zionism was supposed to unite us, not divide us. Racism he called blasphemy, satanism, unmitigated evil. There are Jews who confuse the Code of Laws with God. Some people try to be religious the way their grandparents were religious — my father called that ‘spiritual plagiarism.’ Selfishness, indifference, a cold heart — this was the opposite of a religious person, for whom awareness of God begins with wonder.
What is a religious person? A person who is maladjusted; attuned to the agony of others; aware of God’s presence and of God’s needs; a religious person is never satisfied, but always questioning, striving for something deeper, and always refusing to accept inequalities, the status quo, the cruelty and suffering of others.
What is a religious person? A person who is maladjusted; attuned to the agony of others … never satisfied, but always questioning.
My father was grateful for allies. He always listened, and he sought bridges with those who disagreed. Yet he was also often lonely and hurt — by colleagues and academic politics, by students who complained when he rescheduled a class in order to attend a demonstration, and most of all, by the callousness he encountered.
Yet he never despaired — despair is forbidden, he used to tell me with a smile. You must have faith and hope, he would say. In his presence, I always did.
Where did my father find his faith and hope? In prayer, most of all. I loved to sit in his study while he prayed, just to be near him and feel enveloped by his prayers. I think of him, praying with tallit and tefillin, and I feel his warmth and love. More than anything, he was a person of enormous depth; you could talk to him about anything, he was so open and able to feel so deeply. His empathy was extraordinary.
God was rarely present in the Shabbat services we attended at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Instead, he would daven at the Gerer shtiebl on the Upper West Side, led by Rabbi Cywiak. During the week, his spirits would be renewed when he spoke by telephone with his brother in law, my uncle, the Kopycznitzer rebbe, one of the kindest, most gentle and loving people I have ever met. My father discussed everything with him, including the war in Vietnam, his involvement in Vatican II, his protests on behalf of Soviet Jews, his collaboration with Martin Luther King, Jr.
My father’s voice is always needed, but these days I feel most strongly that I need him for strength and hope. There are so many wise people delineating the horrors we are now facing, and we know that we have to muster our strength for a long and difficult struggle to preserve our democracy, to save our planet, and most of all to protect the many human beings whose lives are being destroyed by American militarism, racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, and cruel, inhumane economic “policies.” The mendacity that my father saw in the United States government has increased, but so has our ability to recognize it and fight back.
My father’s yahrzeit follows the Torah portion Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26), about the death of Jacob and the blessings he gave to his sons and grandsons. Where are the daughters, I ask? My father had only one child, a daughter, but he gave me blessings the Torah gives to sons. The haftarah of Parashat Vayechi comes from I Kings 2: 1-12, about the death of King David and the blessing he gave to his son, Solomon, while on his deathbed. My father dedicated his book “Who Is Man?” to me by quoting the parallel passage in I Chronicles 28:20: “Be strong and of good courage and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; God is with you.”
I share that blessing with all those who strive to follow in my father’s footsteps, imbued with his teachings and fortified by his faith and hope.
Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies and chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. This piece was written for The Shalom Center. (theshalomcenter.org)
A haunting image from the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, where they marched chanting slogans such as "Jews will not replace us", and "Blood and Soil" a Nazi refrain.
(JTA) — White nationalist leader Richard Spencer led another far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Saturday’s march included several dozen torch-bearing white nationalists who marched through Emancipation Park to the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which the city is working to remove, along with the statues of other Confederate leaders. Spencer was the featured speaker at the rally.
Spencer tweeted a video clip of the march under the heading “Back in Charlottesville.” He later tweeted “Charlottesville 3.0 was a success.”
The protesters chanted “You will not replace us” and “We will be back.”
Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor, Mike Signer, responded to the march in a tweet, saying “Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. You’re not welcome here! Go home! Meantime we’re looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.”
Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. You’re not welcome here! Go home! Meantime we’re looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.
“It was a planned flash mob,” Spencer told the Washington Post. “It was a great success. We’ve been planning this for a long time.
“We wanted to prove that we came in peace in May, we came in peace in August, and we come again in peace.”
The protesters have vowed to continue to return to Charlottesville, according to the Washington Post.
In August, the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville led to skirmishes between some 500 white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counterprotesters. Many of the far-right protesters were armed, and some carried Nazi flags and shouted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. An alleged white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring at least 20.
President Donald Trump later equated the protesters with those who opposed them.
People know me as a fearless fighter for the Jewish people and Israel. I entered Gaza in August 2005 when it was a restricted military zone to write about and fight with the Jewish residents of Gush Katif who eventually lost their homes to the IDF. I’ve organized countless pro-Israel events in Los Angeles. I even challenged the Jewish establishment when it wanted to prevent anti-jihad activist Pamela Geller from speaking at the Jewish Federation building in Los Angeles. I recently moved to Berlin where I’m writing about German-Israel relations, often confronting Germans about anti-Israel sentiment and their Nazi past.
So, it was not out of character for me to enter an AfD victory party on the eve of elections, at a Munich beer hall no less, and find Nazis to expose and challenge. After all, the AfD is widely considered the neo-Nazi party. Take a walk inside with me into the lion’s den…(YouTube video comes with English subtitles; click on bottom right of video. For the German subtitles, go to Die Achse Des Guten, here.)
Orit Arfa is a journalist and author. Her second novel, Underskin, is a sexy German-Israeli love story. Her website is: www.oritarfa.com.
Johnny Cash on his television series, “The Johnny Cash Show,” circa 1968. Photo courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Johnny Cash’s children took to social media to denounce a neo-Nazi who wore a T-shirt with the singer’s name on it during the Charlottesville far-right rally last weekend.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, Tara and John Carter Cash pointed out that their late father had received humanitarian awards from, among others organizations, the Jewish National Fund and B’nai B’rith International.
“We were alerted to a video of a young man in Charlottesville, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile. He was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of Johnny Cash, our father. We were sickened by the association,” the Cashes wrote.
As Pitchfork pointed out, a man in this Fox News video, who appears around 0:50, could be the one the Cashes are talking about.
“[Cash] championed the rights of Native Americans, protested the war in Vietnam, was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners,” the statement continued. “He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred. The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII. Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor.”
There was no walking the line in this takedown.
by Larry Moneta | PUBLISHED Aug 15, 2017 | Opinion
Workers clean up broken glass after the Holocaust Memorial was vandalized in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., August 14, 2017, days after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent. Photo by Brian Snyder/REUTERS.
I’ve spent a good part of this morning thinking about yesterday’s toppling of the Confederate statue in Durham, NC.
At Duke University, where I work as an administrator, students have written asking me to send a message celebrating this action as evidence of courageous activism. But yesterday we also witnessed the vandalism of the Holocaust memorial in Boston. As a child of Holocaust survivors, I can’t avoid making a connection between the two acts. Why, I wonder, do we think of one as activism and the other as vandalism? Some would argue we can and should. But I’m not able to accept that reasoning.
Let me explain. I absolutely want memorials to racism, hate and prejudice removed. They should be either destroyed, or relegated to museums with appropriate historical representation. But, I want their removal through legitimate, law-abiding processes. Yes, I understand that unethical government actions (like North Carolina gerrymandering) stack the deck against progressive movements. But that just means we have to fight harder to change those laws, however long that may take. We need active voters and they need inspiration to vote– like getting monuments to hate removed.
I’m also aware that many people legitimately feel overwhelmed by persistent acts of violence, oppression and hate. For them, delaying immediate action, or redirecting it into interminable political processes is equivalent to inaction. I’m certain that in Germany in the 1930’s, my parents and many others would have preferred anarchy to what transpired. But, I’m more optimistic that, partly because of these memories and because of my belief in an America that cares, effective and legal actions will ultimately prevail.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, whose works are now archived here at Duke University, said that, “morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” I take this charge seriously. I hope that what we saw in Charlottesville this week and throughout the country in the last few years will serve as a wake-up call for each of us and for our nation.
I’m old enough to remember effective grass roots movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s in support of civil rights and in opposition to the Vietnam War. Certainly, these efforts preceded today’s social media campaigns laced with anonymous diatribe. But, we have ample evidence of the power of thoughtful, intelligent and focused efforts to counter oppression and injustice. Without a doubt, what’s needed today will require far more time, money and energy than simply posting on Facebook and Twitter will suffice. We need young people committed to supporting candidates and willing to run for elective office themselves. And, yes, sometimes these days, we need protests and vigils and rallies. But, lest we emulate those whom we decry, we need our actions to be mindful of safety, ethics, and laws. When we take the laws into our own hands, we also legitimate the same behaviors by those who seek to harm us.
So, in good conscience, I can’t endorse yesterday’s behaviors. I hope that we focus our collective actions on having every elected seat up for challenge in the 2018 elections filled with people who decry white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, and every form of bias and hate. Our future depends on it.
Larry Moneta is Vice President for Student Affairs at Duke University.
White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. August 11, 2017. Picture taken August 11, 2017. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS.
I spent last Saturday night — the night of the neo-Nazi rally and the tragic murder — at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, watching a fine performance of Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros.” The play takes place in a French village, where the drunkard Berenger is witness to something bizarre: slowly, the townsfolk are turning into rhinos. Ionesco, whose mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family, wrote the play based on his experiences in Romania in the 1930s, when, one by one, his social circle turned on him and embraced fascist leaders and their ideologies.
I was still reeling from the astonishing fact that President Donald Trump had just equated white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK with the people who took to the streets to stop them. Earlier that day, Trump refused to name and shame these people even after one of them allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
What was happening onstage paralleled the world outside.
Onstage, the protagonist Berenger explains to his girlfriend, Daisy, one way the rhinos multiply.
“Sometimes one does harm without meaning to,” he says, “or rather one allows it to go unchecked.”
And when Berenger’s co-worker dismisses accounts that the streets are now filled with citizens-turned-rhinos, Berenger shows him the morning headlines.
“I never believe journalists,” Botard says. “They’re all liars. I don’t need them to tell me what to think; I believe what I see with my own eyes.”
The audience didn’t know whether to clap, laugh or groan — I heard all three.
By the end of the play, all the townsfolk but Berenger become rhinos. Some because that’s what they want. Some because the radio is broadcasting nothing but rhino messages. Some because everyone else is. What appeared grotesque in Act 1 seems perfectly normal by Act 3.
“We must adapt ourselves and try and get on with them,” Daisy says when only she and Berenger are left unchanged. “After all, perhaps it is we who need saving. Perhaps we are the abnormal ones.”
It was no accident the PRT chose to mount Ionesco’s 1959 classic. In his recent treatise “On Tyranny,” historian Timothy Snyder uses the play as his proof text of how democratic societies go dark.
“Ionesco’s aim was to help us see just how bizarre propaganda actually is, but how normal it seems to those who yield to it,” Snyder writes. “By using the absurd image of the rhinoceros, Ionesco was trying to shock people into noticing the strangeness of what was actually happening. The Rhinoceri are roaming through our neurological savannahs. … And now, as then, many people confused faith in a hugely flawed leader with the truth about the world we all share. Post-truth is pre-fascism.”
When the play originally came out, it was a sensation in Israel — a country whose populace was still reeling from a European outbreak of “rhinoceritis.” Soon, there was even a Hebrew word, hitcarnfut, from the root for “horn,” to describe someone who falls under the spell of any beastly ism. The Jews figured there needed to be a word for it, since what are the odds it wouldn’t happen again?
After the cast took a much-deserved curtain call, I went home and stared at the images of the neo-Nazis who marched and killed in Charlottesville. It made what the president said – and kept saying— even less excusable.
It was a march organized by a nationwide group of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, America Firsters and Confederate throwbacks that spurred the violence in the first place. They converged on Charlottesville sporting swastikas and swaddled in Confederate flags, emblazoned with the latest in 1930s Fascist emblems. They carried semi-automatic weapons and sported militia costumes. Their ostensible cause was to protest the long-planned transfer of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a town square to a town park.
The marchers alternated chants of, “You will not replace us!” with “Jews will not replace us!” They intimidated Jewish reporters and chanted the Nazi straight-outta-Nuremberg slogan “Blood and Soil!” One of the flyers that brought out the crowds featured a “Unite the Right!” slogan and a Star of David.
When counterprotesters came out to thwart them, things got ugly. Maybe it would have been cleaner had the counterprotesters stood by and waited for the wannabes to pass, but Jews tried that in the 1930s and it didn’t work out so well. That fact alone gave the president a perfect opportunity to pick sides: either the guys with swastikas and Nazi slogans and guns, or the people standing up to them.
In the immediate aftermath, Trump refused to choose.
After waiting far too long, he made a statement. He condemned violence “on many sides.” If it wasn’t clear that he was apportioning blame equally between the people who marched in support of slavery and killing Jews and those who opposed them, he repeated that phrase, “on many sides.”
Trump — the father and grandfather and father-in-law of Jews — refused to blame the neo-Nazis.
“I’m here to spread ideas, talk, in the hopes that someone more capable will come along,” rally co-organizer Christopher Cantwell told VICE News, “somebody like Donald Trump who does not give his daughter to a Jew…. I don’t think you can feel about race the way I do, and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl.”
These were the people Donald Trump, best friend of the Jews, refused to hold accountable. Refused to threaten them with anywhere near the fire and fury he uses to lash out at North Korea, James Comey, Sen. Mitch McConnell, CNN or The New York Times.
It was no less than a betrayal.
I’ve disagreed with other presidents, Democrats and Republicans. I’ve protested their policies. But I never felt that any of them betrayed me. This wasn’t a close call. It was lob across home plate, which in this case stands for human decency and patriotism.
But Trump couldn’t do it.
Instead of slapping back the instigators of all this violence, my president gave them cover to go on. The protestors were able to tell themselves, “We’re no worse than them — even the president said so.” In one statement after another, Trump leveled the playing field between good and evil.
It was a missed opportunity. The movement, such as it is, is still miniscule. There weren’t that many of them — maybe 1,000? The amount of media attention they sucked up was far out of proportion to their importance or danger. That same weekend, nine people were killed and 30 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago. Zero national coverage.
But that even made the president’s task more important. Calm the country, call out these miscreants for what they are, and focus our attention on more pressing matters. This was the time to brush them back, to rally the better angels before things get out of hand.
The reaction to Trump’s shameful statement was swift and bipartisan.
Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted, “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors — Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry.” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called for a federal hate crime prosecution.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose founder Rabbi Marvin Hier gave a benediction at Trump’s inauguration, said in a statement, “We call upon all American leaders, whatever their political affiliations, led by President Trump, to specifically condemn the extreme alt-right and white nationalists who sow seeds of hate, distrust and violence.”
“”When I was a kid,” the actor Joshua Malina tweeted, “the Nazis were the bad guys.”
For years, Trump and his supporters accused President Barack Obama of refusing to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” Although Obama repeatedly condemned the terrorists — and put a bullet through the head of their leader, Osama bin Laden — he opened himself to the entirely valid criticism that by not naming the problem, you avoid the problem.
But here Trump was doing the exact same thing, refusing to name and condemn the terrorists in his own backyard.
Forty-eight hours after his first statement, Trump read off his second. The headline in The New York Times — two full days after Charlottesville — read, “Trump, Bowing to Pressure, Rebukes White Supremacists.”
I read it twice. It’s 2017. And everything you need to know about what’s sideways about America is between those two commas: “Bowing to pressure.”
What does it say about the president of the United States of America that getting him to name and shame white supremacists is like getting him to say “uncle?”
“Racism is evil,” President Trump read from his TelePrompTer from the White House, “and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and other hate groups who are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
It was better, like any do-over. But the white supremacists on the internet said he was doing it just to calm the critics or to kowtow to them.
“He said EVERYONE INVOLVED will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. that includes Antifa and BLM,” one pro-Trump Reddit user wrote, referring to anti-fascists and Back Lives Matter.
“By ‘other hate groups,’ ” wrote someone on the neo-Nazi Stormfront site, “he means the real hate groups in America, the Anti-White ones.”
This was something the neo-Nazis and the rest of humanity agreed upon: Trump’s second statement was for show, the first for real.
John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary, ventured a guess as to why. These same protesters, he said, represented the solid core or Trump’s supporters, the people who gave him the initial oomph in his race for president.
And that core, Podhoretz wrote, “is governed by rage, hatred, a sense of being wronged, and the loathing of others due to race and national origin. They are numerically insignificant to a man who secured 63 million votes in November 2016. But he … seems to feel they are necessary to the constitution of his core. And he basically let them off with a mild warning.”
They are young — the murder suspect himself was just 20 years old. Their world is a digital echo chamber. On Facebook and Reddit, their posts and comments are a Freudian playground of thwarted desire and sexual insecurity. Everyone not them is “gay” or a “faggot” or “cuck,” the alt-right put-down meaning cuckold. In their sexual obsession, their need for belonging and their delusions of Jewish dominance, these young men are not so different from the lost, horny and hate-filled ISIS fighters they must despise.
And why the Jews? How did we get dragged into a dispute over Robert E. Lee? Yes, Charlotteville Mayor Michael Signer, who stood up to the mob and showed the president what leadership looks like, happens to be Jewish. But that’s a coincidence; the obsession predates him. In fact, it’s astonishing that no matter how the leaders of the alt-right try to pretty up the movement, its true, ugly credo wills out. It’s the Jews’ fault.
A day after the violence, far-right talk radio lunatic Alex Jones claimed that the right-wing protesters who caused the violence were actually “Jewish actors,” who infiltrated the ranks to make the movement look bad.
“Nothing against Jews in general,” Jones said, “ but there are leftist Jews that want to create this clash and they go dress up as Nazis. I have footage in Austin … where it literally looks like the cast of ‘Seinfeld’ or like Howard Stern in a Nazi outfit… it’s all just meant to create the clash.”
These were the voices Trump bowed to on Tuesday, Aug. 15, when he took to the microphone again – to double down on his original equivocation.
“You had very fine people in both groups,” he said at a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan.
When reporters repeatedly pressed him on whether he was equating neo-Nazis and the counter-protesters, the President made it clear: he was.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at ’em – excuse me,” he said.
Was Trump on to something? No. According to an Anti-Defamation League study, of at least 372 murders that were committed by domestic extremists between 2007 and 2016, 74 percent were committed by right-wing extremists and 24 percent by Muslim extremists. Left-wing extremists? 2 percent.
Later, Trump compared Robert E. Lee, a traitor who fought to tear apart the United States that Trump is president of, with George Washington, who fought to liberate and create the country.
When it was over, KKK leader David Duke couldn’t have been happier.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” he tweeted.
There’s no real way to explain this lunacy other than to look back. A not especially creative crowd can’t invent a new enemy, so it steals an old one.
“The rats are still down there in the sewers, brooding,” says Jean Tarrou in Albert Camus’ “The Plague,” “and the Plague is still down there with them, and that Plague will one day again send up its rats to die once more on the streets of a free city … ”
You don’t get rid of hate; you just have to be prepared, always, to fight it. It appears we now have to do battle with a feckless president. Will he ever develop a spine? Will he ever stand for the values of his party, much less America?
Or will he continue to equivocate as the plague spreads to engulf us all? Who knows? As Ionesco himself once said, “You can only predict things after they have happened.”
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses during a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 14, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS.
Two days after the death of a 32-year-old woman during a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., and amidst a furor over his delay in condemning the rally in specific terms, President Donald Trump condemned the “racist violence” and declared that “racism is evil.”
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and other hate groups who are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday in a statement he delivered at the White House.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred and violence. It has no place in America,” Trump said. He also said the Department of Justice had opened up a civil rights investigation into the attack, and honored by name Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday after a car driven by a 20-year-old who has espoused neo-Nazi views plowed into counterprotesters.
Trump had been under pressure since Saturday to forcefully condemn the white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. His initial statement, condemning “hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides” angered Democrats and Republicans alike for seeming to draw a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and the counterprotesters. In a subsequent tweet he had expressed condolences to “the family of the young woman killed today” but did not name Heyer.
Jewish leaders also noted the widespread expressions of anti-Semitism of the rally, which included demonstrators carrying signs reading “Jews are Satan’s children,” Nazi flags and chants of “Jews will not replace us.”
In a statement Saturday, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”
On Sunday the White House put out a statement, attributed to an unnamed spokesperson, saying, “The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K., neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
That statement still failed to satisfy many critics who noted that some white supremacist groups who were encouraged that Trump had not himself singled them out. On Monday, David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, called on Trump to “make clear that our nation does not countenance the warped views of bigots, as was on display in Charlottesville.” He also urged the president “to send a strong message to these extremist groups that their endorsement is not welcome.”
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A white supremacist trying to strike a counterprotestor with a white nationalist flag during clashes at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Jewish groups and Jewish leaders condemned the violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, and criticized President Donald Trump for saying that the hatred and violence came from “many sides.”
“The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in statement issued on Saturday evening, adding that “once again, hate has killed.
Three people were killed as a result of the weekend neo-Nazi event. One woman was killed and 19 injured, some seriously, after a car driven by an Ohio man slammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. The driver, identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was taken into police custody and the incident is under investigation.
Two Virginia state troopers were killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protestors and counterprotesters.
“We commend the opening of President Trump’s statement condemning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” but are deeply troubled by the moral equivalence evident in President Trump’s statement today. White supremacists wielding Nazi flags and spewing racist vitriol need to be specifically condemned, not only violence and hate ‘on many sides.’ If our leaders can’t call out this virulent strand of hate we will surely fail to stop it,” Jacobs also said in his statement.
Trump held a news conference from his summer vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey after posting tweets criticizing the violence in Charlottesville, including one which read: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
“What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society,” he also tweeted.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned the “inconceivable violence” on display in Charlottesville.
““It is utterly distressing and repugnant that such hatred and bigotry still run rampant in parts of this country. There is no place in our democratic society for such violence and intolerance. We must be vigilant and united in our opposition to such abhorrence,” he said in a statement.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the violence in Charlottesville in a tweet posted Saturday afternoon. “Mayhem in #charlottesville. We pray for victims of #violence & condemn those who marched thru streets chanting #hate,” he tweeted.
He also praised Trump for condemning the violence but criticized him for not specifically condemning the white supremacist movement. “Glad @POTUS blasted violence but long overdue for moral ldrshp that condemns the agents of #hate: #WhiteSupremacists, #NeoNazis, #AltRight,” he tweeted.
In a statement later issued by ADL, Greenberg said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”
“We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people,” he also said.
The American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Appalled by white supremacists & neo-Nazis in #Charlottesville preaching #racism, spewing #antiSemitism & #homophobia & glorifying violence.”
The organization also called on Trump to find “moral clarity.”
“@POTUS Time for moral clarity. Condemning ‘hatred, bigotry & violence on many sides’ blurs truth & gives pass to neo-Nazi perpetrators,” AJC tweeted.
Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett, who is head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, condemned the rally and called on U.S. leaders to denounce the anti-Semitism connected to it.
“The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the U.S. is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities, it also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the U.S. and entire world from the Nazis,” he said in a statement, adding: “The leaders of the U.S. must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who was a former candidate for president, in a tweet slammed Trump for his handling of Charlottesville. “No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is.”
No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is. https://t.co/WibPqkLsLa
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who ran for and lost his bid for a Senate seat in Louisiana, and was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s presidential run, tweeted in response to Trump’s call for all Americans to unite against hate.
“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” Duke tweeted.
I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists. https://t.co/Rkfs7O2Ykr
Canada’s Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in the case of a man whose will was overturned because he bequeathed his estate to a U.S. neo-Nazi group.
On Thursday, the country’s highest court without explanation chose not to review two lower court rulings that blocked the transfer of Robert McCorkill’s estate, estimated at $250,000, to the National Alliance.
The appeal was filed by the Canadian Association for Free Expression.
McCorkill, a one-time chemistry professor, died in 2004 and bequeathed his valuable coin collection, ancient artifacts and investments to the white supremacist group based in West Virginia.
In 2013, his sister asked that the bequest be declared void.
The following year, a New Brunswick court invalidated the will, saying such a bequest would run counter to Canadian public policy.
The ruling said written materials of the National Alliance were “racist, white-supremacist and hate-inspired,” and that the group “stands for principles and policies … that are both illegal and contrary to public policy in Canada.”
While McCorkill’s bequest did not advocate violence, it “would unavoidably lead to violence because the NA, in its communications, both advocates and supports its use by others of like mind such as skinheads,” the court ruled.
Last July, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal upheld the decision to void McCorkill’s will.
McCorkill was recruited into the National Alliance in 1998. He later lived at the group’s compound in West Virginia, where he edited the final book written by its founder, William Pierce, author of the far-right screed “The Turner Diaries.”
Jewish groups warned that the infusion of funds would revitalize the moribund group.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which was an intervenor in the case, said it would “continue working to identify legal tools to degrade the capacity of groups that spread hate propaganda against any minority.”
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German neo-Nazis go hipster
by Gabe Friedman, JTA | PUBLISHED Jan 6, 2015 | World
Most people don’t picture the typical neo-Nazi cooking vegan food or wearing skinny jeans. But as the neo-Nazi movement in Germany continues to decline in numbers and influence, some Germans are trying to shed their intimidating skinhead image to appeal to a younger generation. That means trading black combat boots for Converse sneakers and Tumblr blogs.
Rolling Stone and NBC News have reported on the neo-Nazi movement’s embrace of digital culture, from its ubiquitous social media presence to its “nipster” (yes, a real slang term used in German media for Nazi hipster) tastes in clothing and music. Nipsters have made their own Harlem Shake video (complete with a sign holder urging viewers to have unprotected sex with Nazis), run a YouTube channel featuring young Nazis demonstrated vegan kitchen techniques, and are even championing environmental issues and women’s rights to court a wider base of followers.
Rolling Stone noted that experts first noted the nipster trend last winter, when people dressed “like Brooklyn hipsters” began showing up at Nazi events:
Experts have noted that the German neo-Nazi presence on Tumblr and other social networking sites has become sleeker and more sophisticated. Neo-Nazi clothing has become more stylish and difficult to recognize. There’s even a vegan Nazi cooking show.
These are not the clever Brooklynites of the Hipster Hitler website, with their Death Camp for Cutie T-shirts and ironic Hitler mustaches. Hipster Hitler makes makes clear they are not in the business of offending people (though it’s hard to believe they’ve succeeded on that front).
The Germans, on the other hand, are all about offending. Patrick Schroeder, the host of a popular neo-Nazi web series and Exhibit A in the Rolling Stone piece, wears a bandana that reads “H8” across his face to go with his tee shirt and jeans.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates there are only 22,000 far-right sympathizers left in the country, far less than the 1990s. The National Democratic Party of Germany, the country’s largest and oldest far-right political party, is running out of money and its public demonstrations have been blocked in recent months by protestors.
However, the dwindling group is still considered dangerous and unapologetically racist. In response to Germany’s high intake of Muslim immigrants in 2014 (the country’s largest influx of immigrants in 17 years, with many coming from Syria and other perilous areas), neo-Nazis have teamed up with anti-Islamic groups like PEGIDA, or the “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamizations of the West.” In October, 5,000 far-right extremists clashed with police to protest what they called the “Islamization” of Germany.
“The right-wing scene in Germany is militant, radical and dangerous,” Felix Benneckenstein, a former neo-Nazi, told NBC News. “And it is now experiencing an upsurge.”
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The World Jewish Congress urged Ukrainian clergy to refrain from attending neo-Nazi events.
“Moral authority” is necessary to “prevent any further rehabilitation of Nazism or the SS,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder wrote in a letter Thursday to the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Filaret.
In his letter, Lauder referenced a recent ceremony near Lviv marking the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Galician division of the Waffen SS, in which Ukrainians fought on the side of Nazi Germany.
“I was horrified to see photographs … of young Ukrainians wearing the dreaded SS uniform with swastikas clearly visible on their helmets as they carried the caskets of members of this Nazi unit, lowered them into their new graves, and fired gun salutes in their honor,” Lauder wrote. “I was especially troubled by the participation in this ceremony of a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that appeared to give a religious legitimacy to the rehabilitation of the SS.”
In late July, Ukrainians wearing SS uniforms were photographed trudging through trenches and firing rifles in a reconstruction of a key battle against the Soviets during World War II. An Orthodox priest led a ceremony for fallen soldiers of the Nazi unit, sprinkling his blessing over several men sporting swastikas who lowered a coffin in a ritual reburial.
Lauder asked the Ukrainian priest to “call on the clergy of your Church not to participate in any future ceremonies or events that glorify or legitimize a uniform that epitomizes the evil of genocide.”
Some 800,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust in what is now Ukrainian territory, according to researchers from the University of Toronto. They were killed by German troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries who gathered the Jews, guarded them, and in many instances participated in their killing, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
Oleg Pankevich, a lawmaker for the extreme-right Svoboda party, also took part in the reburial ceremony, Lauder said.
He said that the World Jewish Congress would hold a meeting of its executive committee in Kiev next year and invited Patriarch Filaret to attend the gathering.
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Former neo-Nazi elected to local council in England
A former neo-Nazi who once defaced buildings with swastikas reportedly has been elected to a local council in south central England.
Margaret Burke won a seat on Milton Keynes Council earlier this month after demonstrating her remorse to local Labor Party officials and describing her earlier activities as those of a “brainwashed idiot,” the London Jewish Chronicle reported.
During the 1980s, Burke ran a pro-Hitler organization with her husband. She wore Nazi-style uniforms and organized racist leafleting. After the couple divorced, Burke joined the Animal Liberation Front and was jailed for vandalizing a butcher’s shop.
She told the Milton Keynes Citizen that she regretted her actions and had dedicated herself to working for the community to make amends.
The council’s Labor leader, Kevin Wilson, said the candidate selection panel had been aware of Burke’s past and had “questioned her at length.” He called her post-Nazi behavior “exemplary” and said it would have been “wholly wrong to deny her the possibility of being a candidate.”
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German president Wulff honored for solidarity with Jews, Israel
German President Christian Wulff said he shared his nation’s “shock and indignation” at recent revelations of a far-right-wing murder wave aimed at immigrants in his country.
Wulff said in a speech Tuesday while accepting the German Jewish community’s top annual award that he would organize a memorial ceremony for the victims.
“We cannot stand silent in the face of the bereaved,” he said in accepting the Leo Baeck Prize from the Central Council of Jews in Germany at a gala dinner at the Jewish Museum Berlin.
Wulff, 52, also said that Israeli and Palestinian leaders should both have “the courage to make difficult and unpopular decisions, including the subject of settlements. There is no time to lose” in the quest to establish two states, he said.
As the 53rd recipient of the Baeck award, named for a leader of Germany’s liberal movement, Wulff was honored for his “genuine empathy and deep solidarity” with the Jewish community in Germany and with Israel, said Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council. Wulff was appointed president in June 2010.
Graumann called Wulff “a man of clear words and unequivocal signals.” Among Wulff’s first official acts was to attend the dedication of a new synagogue in Mainz and to visit Israel, where he took his teenage daughter to the Yad Vashem memorial, “making a clear statement about the continuity of responsibility and the future of all people in Germany,” Graumann said.
Graumann, 61, who traveled with Wulff last January to ceremonies marking the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, said Wulff was “moved and moving” as the first German president to speak at the annual commemoration.
Wulff in accepting the prize spoke of “a renaissance of Jewish life in Germany that brings new challenges,” and applauded the Central Council for its role in representing Jewish communities from the religious to the secular.
The Central Council represents the 105,000 official members of Jewish congregations in Germany. It is estimated that another 120,000 people of Jewish background are not affiliated.
The German presidency is a symbolic office whose holder is considered to represent the country’s moral conscience.
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