November 18, 2018

Hateful rhetoric unleashed against Santa Monica community group

Screenshot from YouTube

A Santa Monica community group focused on addressing racial inequality has been targeted in recent months by increasing numbers of individuals espousing racist and anti-Semetic rhetoric.

The issues began in July, when a workshop titled “White Privilege and What We Can Do About It,” organized by the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice, at the Virginia Avenue Park community center was interrupted by five people. Video shows those five — three of whom kept their faces covered with bandanas — making hate-filled comments during the meeting.

A month later, there were about 50 such people, committee organizers said. Video footage compiled by local blogger Clay Claiborne, who attended the event, shows the outsiders arguing with and taunting meeting-goers outside of the community center. Later, they are shown trying to force their way into the meeting and being blocked, first by the attendees and then by police.

“It was scary,” said Claiborne, who said the attendees had to leave the community center through the back door at the end of the event because they felt threatened. “When have I ever left a meeting in Santa Monica and worried about, ‘Is somebody going to tail me?’ or ‘Is somebody going to assault me on the way to the car?’ In Santa Monica!”

The committee’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 10. It will focus on raising racially conscious children.

The Committee for Racial Justice formed six years ago. The Rev. Janet McKeithen, a member of the steering committee, said the group was created by members of the Church in Ocean Park, an interfaith congregation in Santa Monica. Since then, it’s expanded to include community members from outside the church who come from a variety of backgrounds and faiths, she said.

Today, the committee holds monthly workshops at the Virginia Avenue Park community center. Workshops, which typically draw about 50 people, focus on educating the community about racism and devising ways to address it in the education and criminal justice systems, she said.

The city of Santa Monica allows the committee to use the community center free of charge but does not provide any funding. Workshops are open to the public, McKeithen said.

McKeithen said she was shocked when she heard about the recent hate-related incident at the July meeting, which she did not attend. She said the committee has been holding workshops peacefully since it formed and had not faced similar incidents. McKeithen did go to the August meeting, where she said individuals were hurling racist and anti-Jewish slurs and pushing into people to try to aggravate them.

In a recording of a meeting, one person, whose face is covered with a bandana, holds up a sign saying, “DA GOYIM KNO,” which, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), is a phrase used among white supremacists imagining the supposed reaction of Jews when non-Jewish people realize Jews rule the world.

“They were very, very anti-Semitic and very, very racist,” McKeithen said. “They’re trying to provoke, they’re trying to incite, and they all have a video camera connected to their arm. … They edit the videos to make us look like we’re completely crazy.”

According to reports by the Santa Monica Mirror, those attending the meeting included people working for the Red Elephants, which operates an online news site and bills itself as “an organization of like-minded conservatives that have come together to spread awareness and truth.”

According to Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher with the ADL, Red Elephants co-founder Vincent James is a known alt-right sympathizer who has interviewed and given a platform to white nationalists such as Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. James offered commentary regarding a Committee for Racial Justice meeting in a video of the events posted on the Red Elephants’ website. In the commentary, James echoes remarks by individuals at the meeting that Jewish people are not really white and claims the committee workshops are organized by “a bunch of rich Jewish people from Brentwood.”

 

Members of another group called the Beach Goys tried to enter the meeting in August, according to the Santa Monica Mirror. Mendelson said this group, and others who attended the meeting, all are loosely affiliated and espouse the same rhetoric.

They “paint themselves as victims of an anti-white narrative of which they place blame of perpetuating these beliefs on Jews,” she said.

Responding to an email inquiry to the Red Elephants from the Journal, a person identified as Vincent Foxx tried to distance the group from the protesters shown in the videos.

“We are media. Like Rebel Media or Infowars. We have reporters across country that report on different things. We have broken many stories. We have nothing to do with protesters that show up,” he wrote. “ We film and cover wherever there is controversial occurrences. … We are not objective journalists by any means. We are considered advocacy journalists.” 

A group on Twitter called the SoCal Beach Goys, which describes itself on the social media platform as “SoCal’s largest and most active alt-right, WN [white nationalist] fraternity,” did not respond immediately to a request for information.

McKeithen said the steering committee has spoken with the Santa Monica police department and city officials to prepare for the group’s upcoming meeting, and brought in experts to provide “nonviolent de-escalation” trainings. McKeithen said many meeting attendees have been deeply affected by the recent incidents.

“It’s traumatizing for many people,” she said. ‘Its hard to see that kind of hate. …When it’s right there in your face and you try to stop it and it doesn’t stop, it’s really difficult.”

Robbie Jones, who also is on the steering committee, said she wants city officials to do more to stand up against racism and assure community members they are safe.

“It’s a threat. It’s like terrorism,” she said. “They’re coming and trying to tear the city apart.” n

Antifa, Nazism and the opportunistic politics that divide us

White supremacists clash with counter protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Americans are more united than ever on issues of race and free speech.

So why the hell are we so divided?

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist terror attack on anti-white supremacist protesters, the vast majority of Americans agreed on the following propositions: white supremacism is evil; neo-Nazism is evil; violence against peaceful protesters is evil, whether from left to right or vice versa.

Yet here we are, two weeks after the event, and the heat has not cooled.

That’s not thanks to serious disagreements among Americans. It’s thanks to political opportunism on all sides.

It’s easy to blame President Donald Trump for that reaction; his response to the Charlottesville attack was indeed deeply disturbing. It was disturbing for the president to initially blame “both sides” for the event, as though those counterprotesting white supremacism were moral equals of those protesting in its favor. It was more disturbing for the president to say there were “very fine people” at the neo-Nazi tiki torch march, and to add that he had no idea what the “alt-right” was.

Trump’s bizarre, horrifying response to the Charlottesville attacks would have justified criticism of him. I’ve been personally pointing out the president’s stubborn and unjustifiable unwillingness to condemn the alt-right for well over a year (I was the alt-right’s top journalistic target in 2016 on Twitter, according to the Anti-Defamation League). Such critiques would have been useful and welcome.

Instead, the mainstream left has politicized the situation through two particular strategies: first, labeling conservatives more broadly as neo-Nazi sympathizers; second, justifying violence from communist/anarchist antifa members.

The first strategy is old hat by now on the left. On college campuses, conservatives are regularly labeled beneficiaries of “white privilege” who merely seek to uphold their supremacy; anodyne political candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have been hit with charges of racism from the left. Democrats routinely dog Republicans with the myth of the “Southern switch” — the notion that the Republicans and Democrats changed positions on civil rights after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, leading to Republicans winning the South. (For the record, that theory is eminently untrue, and has been repeatedly debunked by election analysts ranging from Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics to Byron Shafer of the University of Wisconsin and Richard Johnston of theUniversity of Pennsylvania.)

But that false conflation found a new outlet for the left in support for antifa (anti-fascism). Antifa is a violent group that has attacked protesters in Sacramento, Berkeley, Dallas, Boston and Charlottesville; it’s dedicated to the proposition that those it labels fascists must be fought physically. It’s not anti-fascist so much as anti-right-wing — it shut down a parade in Portland last year because Republican Party members were scheduled to march in that parade. Antifa’s violence in Boston two weeks after Charlottesville wasn’t directed at Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, but at police officers and normal free-speech advocates.

Yet many on the left have justified their behavior as a necessary counter to the white supremacists and alt-righters. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) justified the violence by appealing to the evils of the neo-Nazis. Professor N.D.B. Connolly of Johns Hopkins University wrote in the pages of The Washington Post that the time for nonviolence had ended — that it was time to “throw rocks.” Dartmouth University historian Mark Bray defended antifa by stating that the group makes an “ethically consistent, historically informed argument for fighting Nazis before it’s too late.”

This is appalling stuff unless the Nazis are actually getting violent. Words aren’t violence. A free society relies on that distinction to function properly — as Max Weber stated, the purpose of civilization is to hand over the role of protection of rights to a state that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. Breaking that pact destroys the social fabric.

Now, most liberals — as opposed to leftists — don’t support antifa. Even Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) denounced antifa’s tactics in Berkeley, for example. But in response to some on the left’s defense of antifa and their attempt to broaden the Nazi label to include large swaths of conservatives, too many people on the right have fallen into the trap of defending bad behavior of its own. Instead of disassociating clearly and universally from President Trump’s comments, the right has glommed onto the grain of truth embedded in them —  that antifa is violent — in order to shrug at the whole.

The result of all of this: the unanimity that existed regarding racism and violence has been shattered. And all so that political figures can make hay by castigating large groups of people who hate Nazism and violence.

Let’s restore the unanimity. Nazism is bad and unjustifiable. Violence against those who are not acting violently is bad and unjustifiable. That’s not whataboutism. That’s truth.

If we can’t agree on those basic principles, we’re not going to be able to share a country.


BEN SHAPIRO is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, host of the most listened-to conservative podcast in the nation, “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and author of The New York Times best-seller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear Silences Americans.”

What’s a bigger threat to Jews, left or right?

White supremacists clash with counter protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Who’s worse, the fanatics who want to kill us now or the extremists who want to kill us later? That was the question Jews locked onto this week, like two dogs playing tug of war with a sock. It’s entertaining until one of them loses a tooth.

The fight began after President Donald Trump equivocated in his condemnation of neo-Nazis and placed the blame for the violence at the Aug. 12 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., on both the alt-right and the people who came to protest them.

Trump’s insistence that there was blame on “many sides” and there were “good people on both sides” drew justifiable denunciation from a broad swath of the Jewish world. The nonpartisan Anti-Defamation League (yes, it’s nonpartisan), of course, condemned the president’s remarks. But so did Haskel Lookstein, the Orthodox rabbi who officiated at Ivanka Trump’s conversion, as well as the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

If there’s one thing most Jews can still manage to agree on, it’s that Nazis are bad.

But then came social media, and that’s where the fights broke out.

Yes, what Trump did was terrible, but the real danger to American Jews is the left, some people argued. It’s the antifa people, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and Black Lives Matter with its anti-Zionist platform who intimidate Jewish students on college campuses, shut down free speech for pro-Israel speakers, and in the case of BDS, work toward a world where Israel and the Palestinians can bloody each other in a Lebanon-circa-1982-style civil war. At this year’s Chicago SlutWalk, the leftist organizers refused to let Jews march under a banner showing the Star of David, a Jewish symbol that long predates the State of Israel. 

Yeah, the leftists shot back, but what about … Nazis? It’s the alt-right members who carry guns, threaten synagogues as they did in Charlottesville, chant “Jews will not replace us,” and far and away commit more violent attacks. To paraphrase Sally Field, they hate us, they really hate us.

This is how the arguments play out on Facebook, Instagram and, occasionally, as they say on Twitter, IRL — in real life.

Some debaters go straight to history, or at least to something they remember from the History Channel. The left gave us Stalin and Mao. The fascists gave us Hitler. The left aligned with Palestinian terrorists. The right gave us … Hitler.

The right says that a few pathetic men carrying swastikas can’t compare to an international movement like BDS. The left points out that a few pathetic men carrying swastikas is an exact description of the Nazi Party in 1921.

The right claims there’s something called the alt-left that is dangerously anti-Semitic. The left points out that Fox News host Sean Hannity invented the term “alt-left” to stoke fear, whereas a neo-Nazi created the word “alt-right” to rebrand his loathsome movement.

“There is no comparable side on the left to the alt-right,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on MSNBC this week.  “White supremacists amass with …  a nationalist agenda that pushes out minorities based on how you pray, who you love or where you’re from. So, it’s really not comparable.”

I’ve read the platforms of antifa groups online, and they all state they oppose all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. That’s not a claim you find on DailyStormer.com. Having said that, I wouldn’t be shocked one day to find anti-fascists showing up to intimidate marchers at a pro-Israel rally. Leftist politicians in England like Jeremy Corbyn side with terrorists against Israel, and their sickness is infectious.

The bottom line is, after our initial almost-unity in condemning Trump’s remarks, we quickly split on which extreme should concern us more. Astonishingly, the Democrats in the debate tend to “objectively” consider the neo-Nazis a far worse threat, while the Republicans “objectively” conclude that the antifas and BDS-ers are the clear and present danger. People come in with their biases and leave with them intact. No minds are changed in the making of this debate.

Here’s what I think: We need to sleep with one eye open, sometimes the right one, sometimes the left one.

The far right and far left always circle back to meet each other under the same DSM entry for paranoia, conspiracy theories, violence and Jew hatred. The far left disguises anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism. The far right disguises nothing: They hate Jews and the “Zios.”

These days, the far right has gotten a big blast of wind in its sails from our president (thanks for that) and the limp response from fellow Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who failed to stand up to him. Not to mention the Jews who serve or sometimes live with Trump. They only make things worse.

But winds shift. That means next time someone tries to convince you that all the danger blows from one direction, remind them that it doesn’t. The Jewish left needs to mind the left, and the Jewish right the right. Let’s work together to fight the fanatics and their enablers wherever, and whoever, they are.


ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email
him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism
and @RobEshman.

Lawsuit just the start of crackdown on white supremacists, Feuer vows

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer conducts a press conference regarding his office’s commitment to prosecute white supremacists’ activities and hate crimes in Los Angeles. Photo by Ryan Torok

Days after his office filed an Aug. 14 lawsuit against three people allegedly connected to a Canoga Park home serving as a gathering place for white supremacist gang activity, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said the suit is just the beginning of a concerted effort by his team to track down and prosecute those who engage in hate crimes and other criminal behavior locally.

“In addition to lawsuits already brought regarding alleged white supremacist gangs in the Valley, there is more work under investigation on that very issue right now. I can’t discuss the state of the investigation publicly,” he said, addressing reporters at L.A. City Hall on Aug. 18. “So we are going to do that; we’re going to be vigilant in prosecuting hate crimes and continue outreach — I and others have engaged in outreach in communities — to encourage people to come forward.”

The three defendants named in the L.A. Superior Court lawsuit are Lisa Bellinaso; her mother, Isabella; and Bellinaso’s boyfriend, Ryan Matthew Andrews. The suit asks that the home, located at the 8400 block of Remmet Avenue, where Bellinaso and Andrews have been living, be declared a public nuisance and that a judge enjoin further drug dealings there.

The legal action followed a recent uptick in anti-Semitic activity in Santa Monica, where members of the conservative group the Red Elephants and the alt-right group the Beach Goys reportedly have appeared at meetings of the Santa Monica-based Committee for Racial Justice. The Santa Monica Mirror reported on Aug. 15 that during an August meeting of the Committee for Racial Justice, the tensions boiled over when one participant stood up to the far-right attendees of the meeting to express solidarity with Jews.

“I have 15 years of Catholic school and tonight I am a Jew!” the woman said.

Additionally, Feuer’s press conference, among other things, addressed the Aug. 12 violence in Charlottesville, Va., where a neo-Nazi demonstration clashed with a counterprotest, resulting in the death of one woman. At such a divisive time in this country, Feuer said it is incumbent on him as a Jewish city leader to stand up for marginalized communities, including Muslims.

“I’ve been making a systematic effort to go to mosques, Islamic centers and elsewhere because I think it is really important, not only because I’m a leader in this city but because I’m a Jewish leader in this city, to demonstrate the importance of us being together, of standing together,” he said. “That kind of outreach, conspicuous outreach, by leadership now, is, I think, pivotal.

Feuer told the room of about 30 reporters his Jewishness compels him to think about what he can do for those who cannot do for themselves.

“It happens that the theme of the [forthcoming] High Holy Days at my synagogue is taken from a teaching called the Pirkei Avot, a compilation of stories and of wisdom. And the theme is, ‘In a place where no one is acting like a human being, one needs to strive to be human,’ ” he said. “On a personal level, each of us can use this moment to think very deeply about who we are, what matters to us, and our relationships to each other and to the nation itself.” n

How to counter white supremacists energized by Trump

White supremacists carry a shield and Confederate flag as they arrive at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., on August 12. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The smartest graffito I ever saw proclaimed “If I didn’t believe it with my own mind, I never would have seen it.” The converse works too: deep beliefs blind people to the obvious.

Maybe that observation explains president Donald Trump’s insistence that last weekend’s Charlottesville debacle was really about a Robert E. Lee statue, despite the ubiquitous Nazi flags, and the chants of “Jews will not replace us.”

Trump is not entirely wrong that there was violence on both sides. Many Nazis were eager for a fight, and some of the anti-fascists (who have disrupted conservative speakers on campuses in recent months) were too. But for him to equate the groups with the presidential stamp of moral equivalence does more to promote white supremacy than any other presidential act in memory.

The Nazi-like torch-lit march to the Lee statue, and the Nazi flags (let alone the Confederate ones) should have been enough to tell the president that this event wasn’t about anything other than white supremacists feeling empowered to express their belief that the only true Americans are white Americans.

Trump said he needed a couple of days to figure out what happened, but didn’t he hear the “Jews will not replace us” chant? Does he have any clue what that means?

White supremacists see themselves as biologically superior to non-whites. Yet they see America becoming a nation that will, in just a few decades, be majority non-white. They fear they are being “replaced,” but how can they be losing this battle to people they define as inferior? The explanation is that there is a hand on the scale, making them lose. It’s the Jews, and their support for immigration and civil rights for all, that are the culprits.

Jews are “replacing” whites in two ways, in their view. One is the perceived power of the Jewish community, which while small has had great success in many spheres. They also believe Jews actively seek to destroy whites by injecting “inferior races” into society. This is not a new libel. The charge that Jews secretly conspire to harm non-Jews is at the core of Nazism. It was also popular among many of the “America Firsters” of the 1930s.

The chants about Jews, the flags, the torches, were clear evidence – in their own words and actions – what the alt-right was organizing for. So how was Trump so blind and deaf?

Perhaps because he knows that to many of his supporters the slogan “Make America Great Again” means “Make America White Again.”

Perhaps because he gained the presidency by stoking fears of the “other,” the other being non-white immigrants and Muslims, while retweeting antisemitic memes.

White supremacists not only revel in Trump’s stereotyping of people they loath, they easily see the Trump double standard.

Yes, there are immigrants who commit acts of violence, and Trump holds immigrants responsible as a group. Yes there are Muslims who commit acts of terror, and Trump effectively blames all Muslims.

When white supremacists and neo-Nazis spew hatred, he says wait, there are some good people among them, you can’t tar a whole group; and as a matter of fact those who oppose the white supremacists are no better.

The double standard goes further. Imagine a Muslim man plowing a car into demonstrators. Within nanoseconds the presidential Twitter finger would have blamed “radical Islamic terrorists.” Same act by a white supremacist – where’s the tweet?

The Nazis have good reason to feel empowered. They see a president targeting non-white groups, and twisting logic like a pretzel to defend white racists. They know that others whom they seek to recruit, who might otherwise fear being associated with overt hate, see the president essentially saying it’s ok.

Symbols are powerful, and people have died for them. The rallying point for the alt-right was not Robert E. Lee as a person, but Robert E. Lee as a symbol of white supremacy. But again, Trump missed the obvious. He’s not entirely wrong that some on the left would want to remove symbols of slavery, and that by that logic Washington and Jefferson are troubling figures. I agree with him that these statues (unlike the Confederate flags over statehouses) should stay. We erase the troubling parts of our history at our peril; much better to leave them – Lee included – and surround them with explanations why they were venerated as part of an effort – that still continues – to promote the oppression of black Americans.

But Trump made no such distinction, and his statements over the last days have ensured there will be other Charlottesvilles, the white supremacists believing the president is behind them.

When this happens, policing must be better (keeping groups apart), and other political figures – as many did this past week — must condemn white supremacy in strong terms.

Local groups, including religious and human rights groups, have a key role here too.

Earlier this year, faced with a threatened, armed, neo-Nazi march in western Montana, the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation partnered with the Montana Human Rights Network to launch a “project lemonade” response. People made financial pledges, so if the Nazis marched, they would donate money (up to a specified limit) tied to how long the march lasted. The money would go to things the Nazis detested, such as security for Jewish institutions, hate crime training for the police, and educational efforts against bigotry. In effect, the Nazis’ speech wasn’t free – they were helping raise money for things to defeat them and their message.

The Nazis didn’t show up in Montana, after people from around the country made Lemonade pledges.

I encourage other local groups to adopt this same strategy. It’s a way for all of us to stand together against hate, even when the president does not.


Kenneth S. Stern is the Executive Director of the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation.

White supremacist says he will air interview with Donald Trump Jr.

A white supremacist who was given press credentials for a Donald Trump rally in Tennessee said he interviewed the presidential candidate’s son for his radio talk show.

James Edwards, who hosts “Political Cesspool,” a Memphis-based syndicated radio show, on Saturday joined the media pool at the Memphis-area airport where Trump, the GOP front-runner, held his rally. Edwards said he secured a 20-minute interview with Donald Trump Jr.

“As the media watches its grip slipping away, they have become desperate to paint Trump as a ‘racist,’” Edwards wrote Tuesday on his website. “It’s the same old, worn out card they always play.”

The campaign in a response said it did not vet every application for coverage and that the younger Trump, to his knowledge, did not give Edwards an interview. Trump’s family is heavily involved in his campaign.

“The campaign provided media credentials to everyone that requested access to the event on Saturday in Memphis,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in an email to JTA.

“There were close to 200 reporters in attendance and we do not personally vet each individual,” she said. “The campaign had no knowledge of his personal views and strongly condemns them. Donald Trump Jr. was not in attendance, and although he served as a surrogate for his father on several radio programs over the past week, to his knowledge and that of the campaign, did not participate in an interview with this individual.”

Over the weekend, Trump came under fire for not unequivocally disavowing David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan who had endorsed Trump’s candidacy. Trump has since disavowed him.

Duke and other white supremacists and anti-Semites have appeared on the Edwards program over the years. Edwards regularly posts on his website the musings of Brother Nathanael Kapner, a Jewish convert to Eastern Orthodoxy who peddles conspiracies of Jewish control of markets, media and government.

On Wednesday, Edwards said he was not affiliated with the Trump campaign.

“In no way should anyone interpret our press credentialing and subsequent interview with Donald Trump, Jr. as any kind of endorsement by the Trump campaign,” he said on his website.

The Anti-Defamation League has said that Edwards gets mainstream media attention “in spite of his racist ideology and open affiliations with extremists.” The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Edwards as an extremist.

Tennessee was one of 11 states in contention on Super Tuesday. Trump won the state and six others.

Kansas City shooter: ‘I had a patriotic intent to stop genocide’

The white supremacist charged with killing three people outside two Jewish facilities in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas, told a jury he is not guilty because he merely was trying to “defend my people against genocide.”

If convicted in the April 2014  shootings outside the JCC of Kansas City and the Village Shalom assisted-living facility in Overland Park, Kansas, Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, could face the death penalty.

Miller, 74, is representing himself in the capital trial in Olathe, Kansas. On Friday, after the prosecution completed its arguments, he admitting to killing three people, and acknowledged trying to shoot more, Reuters reported.

Claiming that Jews have committed genocide against white people and that they control both the media and Wall Street, Miller said, “I had no criminal intent, I had a patriotic intent to stop genocide against my people.”

“I hate Jews,” Miller said, according to Reuters. “They are the ones who destroy us.”

Miller made similar claims in his opening statements on Monday, which the judge interrupted midway through, saying his views were not relevant at that stage of the trial.

Miller is charged with killing Reat Underwood, 14, and Underwood’s grandfather, 69-year-old William Corporon, outside the JCC, as well as Terri LaManno, 53, outside a nearby Jewish assisted-living facility. None was Jewish, but Miller assumed they were Jewish when he shot them.

Alleged Kansas City JCC shooter says he’ll change plea to guilty

Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist charged with murdering three people outside two Kansas City-area Jewish institutions, said he will change his plea to guilty.

Miller, suffers from chronic emphysema, told The Associated Press by phone from jail that he wants to speak in court about why he committed the crimes and is concerned about a long trial due to his poor health. He said he plans to use his court appearances to “put the Jews on trial where they belong.”

In late March, Miller pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Johnson County, Kansas, and asked for a speedy trial, within 150 days, despite objections from his lawyers. Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan set an Aug. 17 trial date.

Miller is charged with committing three murders on April 13, 2014 — two in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, and one in the parking lot at Village Shalom, a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away.

In addition to capital murder, Miller is charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of criminal discharge of a weapon at a structure.

State prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

Miller, a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, told the Kansas City Star that he began planning the attacks when he became so sick with emphysema that he thought he would die soon and that he conducted reconnaissance missions of the JCC and Village Shalom in the days before the shootings.

“I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died,” he told the newspaper.

None of his victims were Jewish.

White supremacist executed for 1977 synagogue killing

A white supremacist was executed in Missouri for killing a man at a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977.

Joseph Paul Franklin, 63, was executed early Wednesday morning for the sniper shooting of Gerald Gordon, who was killed outside of the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue in October 1977 as he left a bar mitzvah. Franklin also was convicted of seven other murders throughout the United States and claimed credit for 20 deaths between the years of 1977 and 1980.

The Missouri conviction is the only one that carried a death sentence, according to The Associated Press.

The execution had been stayed Tuesday evening by two district court judges due to concerns over the drug used for the execution. The U.S. Supreme Court early Wednesday morning upheld the death sentence and the use of the drug, leading to the execution.

Franklin also bombed a synagogue in Chattanooga, Tenn., in July 1977.

Canada group accepts Toronto Mayor Ford’s rejection of alleged white supremacist

Canada group accepts Toronto Mayor Ford’s rejection of alleged white supremacist

July 27, 2012

(JTA)—A Canadian Jewish group said it is satisfied with the explanation by Toronto’s mayor that he did not know that a person he posed with for a picture allegedly has ties to white supremacists.

A photo of Jon Latvis with Mayor Rob Ford was posted on the blog of Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella, who titled the entry “The Toronto Mayor’s Far-Right Friend,” according to the Vancouver Sun.

On the site, Kinsella said Latvis is a member of the band RaHoWa, which is short for Racial Holy War.

The photo shows Latvis wearing a military uniform with the caption: “Me meeting with Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford to get an endorsement for the Latvian Homeguard,” the Sun reported.

The picture was taken at a 2012 New Year’s reception at Toronto City Hall, Ford said in a statement, noting that he poses constantly for pictures at such events.

While the photo was being taken, Latvis requested a meeting with the mayor and the two men talked briefly this past March, but discussion was about public transportation, the mayor’s office said, according to the Canadian Jewish News. The statement said that during both the levee and the meeting, Latvis identified himself by a different name.

“At no time was the mayor aware of allegations that this individual had made racist, hateful or otherwise offensive comments, nor were any such comments made during his meeting with the mayor,” the statement said. “Mayor Ford is a strong supporter of Toronto’s Jewish community and strongly deplores anti-Semitism in any form.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it was satisfied with the explanation.

White supremacist may have targeted ADL’s Foxman

A white supremacist arrested after informing his wife that he planned to kill Jews and blacks may have targeted Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman, the FBI said.

Danny Lee Warner, 33, was arrested Dec. 28 outside a McDonald’s in Arizona the day after his estranged wife received a letter postmarked Dec. 19 saying that he planned to kill “niggers and Jews” until the government “stopped him.”

According to the police, Warner’s wife and his Internet-browsing history suggested that he also may have hoped to head to New York and target Foxman, the ADL’s national director. The day Warner was arrested, the ADL sent out a security alert to Jewish organizations warning them that they could potentially be targeted.

Photographs provided by the police showed Warner giving a Nazi salute.

According to law enforcement, Warner had been a leader of the Silent Aryan Warriors, a white supremacist organization, while serving 10 years in a Utah prison.

The Associated Press reported that Warner was charged with violating his parole, weapons infractions in Arizona and possessing stolen property in California, as well as other unspecified federal charges.

Court: JCC Parents Can Sue Gunmakers

Three families, whose children were shot by a white supremacist in an attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center (NVJCC), can pursue their lawsuit against the makers of the weapons used in the shooting spree.

The May 28 ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was greeted with relief by the three families and by the mother of postal carrier Joseph S. Ileto, who was slain by the same gunman in a separate attack.

The suit grew out of the Aug. 10, 1999 attack by Buford O. Furrow Jr., a self-avowed anti-Semite and white supremacist, on the Jewish center in Granada Hills, which left three children, one teenager and one adult wounded.

"I am so elated that we are finally moving forward," Donna Finkelstein told The Journal. Her daughter Mindy, then a 16-year-old counselor at the JCC, suffered two gunshot wounds to her leg.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Alan Stepakoff and Loren Lieb, whose then 6-year-old son, Joshua Stepakoff, was also shot in the leg.

Also participating in the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, are Eleanor and Charles Kadish, whose son Benjamin, then 5, was the most seriously injured, with gunshot wounds to his stomach and legs.

Eleanor Kadish said that the legal decision was "something of a victory" and she was optimist that the gunmakers would ultimately be held accountable.

She described her family life as "pretty much back to normal, but the trauma always comes back to you."

Among the large cache of weapons found in Furrow’s car were an Austrian-made Glock 9-millimeter handgun and a 9-millimeter rifle, made by North China Industries. Both manufacturers are named in the suit.

Furrow, who is now serving five life terms in prison, without possibility of parole, was a longtime member of the Aryan Nations. The Idaho-based group proclaims that all Jews are descendants of Satan.

When he turned himself in to the FBI in Las Vegas, Furrow told agents that he had shot up the Jewish center the day before as "a wake-up call to Americans to kill Jews."

He added that he had shot and killed Ileto because he was non-white and worked for the federal government.

Before the shooting rampage, Furrow had checked out the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Skirball Cultural Center and University of Judaism, but had found security too tight. He described his choice of the NVJCC as "a target of opportunity."

In filing the original suit almost four years ago, attorney Joshua Horwitz of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence said that Furrow, a convicted felon with a history of mental instability, should not have been allowed to build an arsenal of assault-style weapons.

"It’s not enough to let guns go out your factory door and say, ‘Sorry, we don’t know where they’re headed,’" Horwitz said.

Commenting on the current court ruling, Horwitz said that "When the actions of gunmakers and distributors put public safety at risk, they must be held accountable."

Friday’s ruling by the full 26-member appeals court upheld the same ruling by an earlier three-judge panel, which had been appealed by the Glock company.

However, eight of the 26 judges dissented, warning that the ruling could threaten many non-gun manufacturers and seriously damage the state’s economy.

Attorneys for the gunmakers said they had not yet decided whether to request a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

One outgrowth of the JCC attack has been the Million Mom March, a national gun control initiative, with much of the initial impetus coming from Jewish Valley women, including Finkelstein and Lieb.

Finkelstein, and her husband David, were active participants in the 2004 march, held last month in Washington, D.C.

Fitting the Crime

Eleanor Kadish had only returned to work for a couple of weeks when she learned that federal prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for Buford O. Furrow, Jr., the avowed white supremacist who is awaiting trial for allegedly shooting her son and four other people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center before murdering a Filipino-American postal worker Aug. 10.

For six months, Kadish, a recruiter for an employment agency, took off work to care for Benjamin, now 6, who was confined to a wheelchair after he was shot in the abdomen and the left upper thigh. The West Hills mother notes that her first grader still walks with a limp and cannot play with the other children during recess at his public school. “I still worry, ‘Where are my children now? Are they well-protected?’ These thoughts go through my mind all day long,” she says.

And so Kadish did not find comfort as CNN and the newspapers blared the news that Furrow, if convicted, could die by lethal injection. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she is resigned to the fact that hate crime is integral to society. Even if Furrow dies, she says, “I think there are many more people out there very much like him.”

Kadish, who spoke to prosecutors before they sought the death penalty, can’t comment on whether she feels Furrow should die for his alleged crimes. Like other victims’ relatives interviewed by The Journal, she does not want her remarks to interfere in any way with the prosecution.

While the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles vowed to support whatever sentence is handed down by the courts, and the Anti-Defamation League left Furrow’s fate “up to the informed decision of the prosecutors,” according to a spokesperson, other Jewish leaders were more vociferous about their opinions.

“Buford Furrow is a poster boy for capital punishment,” national radio talk-show host Dennis Prager told The Journal, agreeing with the 55 percent of Americans who support death for the avowed racist, according to an August 1999 Gallup poll. “Furrow had the premeditated desire to murder as many human beings as possible. And the only way that society can declare how it feels about a crime is by the punishment it inflicts.”

Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin of Stephen S. Wise Temple, another longtime supporter of the death penalty, advocates death for Furrow, if convicted, because hate killers “have become subhuman and are a menace to humankind.”

And Todd Carb, the 41-year-old Jewish paramedic who rushed to the scene of Furrow’s crimes on Aug. 10, agrees for a more personal reason. Carb still thinks about the morning that he knelt beside Ben Kadish in the hallway of the NVJCC, struggling to work an IV into the boy’s deflating veins, which demonstrated no discernable pulse. He remembers the bloody floor and the other scenes of violence and murder he has witnessed in his nearly 20 years as a paramedic.

There was the student who was raped and half-buried on a campus in Hollywood; the brain matter that was splattered all over an old Cadillac pushed over a hillside by a man who had beaten his wife to death and had staged an accident to hide the crime. Carb, who struggled to free the man’s barely-conscious teenage daughter from the car, was himself endangered because the vehicle had been rigged to explode. “Based on what I’ve seen at work,” he says, “I know that some people’s actions are so offensive that only the death penalty is appropriate.”

Nevertheless, Carb and others who support lethal injection for Furrow are aware of a strong, albeit minority opinion against the death penalty. Twenty percent of Jews polled for a 1998 survey published in the “Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics” oppose capital punishment.

Their qualms reverberate in the larger society. In late January, the governor of Illinois called for a moratorium on executions in his state because of a perceived pattern of racism and error by the criminal justice system. Just last week, The New York Times ran a front page story entitled “Questions of Death Row Justice for Poor People in Alabama.” And late last year, the Reform and Conservative movements issued a joint statement with the Catholic church calling for an end to the death penalty.

In Los Angeles, perhaps no one is more outspoken against capital punishment than attorney Stephen F. Rohde, who serves on the board of Death Penalty Focus and the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and is president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, where he also chairs the death penalty committee.

Rohde, who has represented a man on California’s death row, will speak at a March 15 candlelight vigil on the eve of the execution of another convicted murderer at San Quentin. He will no doubt do the same for Furrow, if the racist is convicted and sentenced to death.

Rohde has been opposed to capital punishment since he was a boy, when he was chilled by the execution of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He remains so opposed to the death penalty that he would not have supported execution for Hitler, let alone Buford Furrow. “I just don’t believe that the state should model its conduct after the worst moment of a person’s life, namely the moment that a person commits murder,” he says.

Doug Mirell, an ACLU board member who also opposes the death penalty “under all circumstances,” questions whether prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Furrow for political reasons: namely, because of the outcry and the media attention. Rohde points out that the federal government accepted life imprisonment for Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber” who terrorized America with a series of first-degree murders and maimings.

Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson, who was the CBS legal commentator during the O.J. Simpson trial, believes that the courts accepted life imprisonment for Kaczynski because he was found to be mentally ill. Nevertheless, Levenson, who is “not a big fan of the death penalty,” says she is troubled about whether the ultimate punishment is appropriate for Furrow and is awaiting release of psychological studies on the avowed racist before finalizing her opinion.

Rabbi Harold Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom, who credits Jewish law for his opposition to capital punishment in most cases (see sidebar), believes Furrow is mentally disturbed and thus should be exempt from execution. However, he is convinced that a number of his congregants support capital punishment; Rabbi Steven Jacobs of Temple Kol Tikvah, meanwhile, laments that most of his congregants support the death penalty in general and for Furrow in particular.

Nevertheless, Jacobs, a board member of Death Penalty Focus, believes capital punishment is merely a “quick fix” for the anger and the spiritual emptiness that is prevalent in society. If Furrow is sentenced to death, he very well may preach against the execution from the pulpit, though he understands why other rabbis might be reluctant to do so. “It’s difficult because you always wonder, ‘Am I going to alienate my congregants?'” Jacobs says.

Had Furrow actually killed several Jewish children at the JCC, rabbis like Jacobs would find their position to be even more difficult. “There would be a huge clamor for the death penalty, and not just among Jews,” Levenson says. “Because when you kill children, people tend to be unforgiving.”