Canada’s high court refuses to hear neo-Nazi case

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.”

German neo-Nazis go hipster

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.”


WJC: Ukrainian priests must stop glorifying Nazis

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.

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.”

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.