SAN FRANCISCO (Mar. 9)
Northern California Jewish Bulletin
By most measurements, the “Aryan Woodstock” of white supremacists last Saturday in Napa was a bust. But the epithets shouted by neo-Nazi Skinheads from the hills of the wine country sent a chill through a Northern California Jewish community unused to such blatant anti-Semitism.
Jewish officials said it also underscored the need to maintain a constant effort against the rise of racism.
“This incident reminds us that hatred and bigotry remain a top priority for Jewish community relations. Our job is to continue to work to strengthen the democratic values which protect us,” said Ephraim Margolin, chairman of the Bay Area’s Jewish Community Relations Council.
The event originally was billed as a whites-only concert featuring “white power” bands with names like the Boot Boys.
But the event was reduced to a political gathering when organizers failed to obtain a concert permit — a failing that Napa County Judge W. Scott Snowden took advantage of to ban live music from the proceedings.
Tom Metzger, leader of the southern California-based White Aryan Resistance, had called for white supremacist groups such as the American Front to flood the Napa Valley with up to 2,000 radicals, their hair cut short and their jackets boasting swastikas in symbolic unity.
By late Saturday morning, however, it was apparent that Woodstock had turned into nothing more than a verbal jam session.
Even generous estimates placed at fewer than 200 the number of Skinheads who had entered the undeveloped, 70-acre farm in the hills along Highway 12 south of Napa.
REMEMBERING MAX YASGUR
Ironically, the farm was leased to the Skinheads by a Jewish physician who reportedly fled Nazi Germany.
Howard Lonsdale, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Vallejo, told reporters that he had been duped by the Skinheads into believing that the concert was being organized by environmentalists.
He said that he had allowed the meeting to proceed under threats from the neo-Nazis.
The neo-Nazis were far outnumbered by the more than 500 protesters who picketed along the roadside leading into the area. Some 200 police officers stood by to keep the peace, with another 250 on call who were never used.
Authorities defused the situation considerably by closing Highway 12, forcing protesters to walk as far as three miles to the entrance to the farm. And a light rain fell throughout the day, further dampening the spirits of Skinheads and protesters.
Except for a few passing skirmishes, there were no confrontations as the Skinheads stayed to themselves, for the most part out of sight. There were no arrests and only a few minor injuries.
The only Jewish political group to make an appearance was the Jewish Defense League, whose national leader, Irv Rubin, brought a handful of supporters.
But Rubin’s aggressive approach was not shared by other Jewish officials. Said Margolin: “We will continue to fight bigotry with reason.”