WASHINGTON (Dec. 17)
An American neo-Nazi group is trying to foment anti-Semitism by linking Israel with the September terrorist attacks in the United States.
But Jewish and civil rights groups say the strategy of the National Alliance, a white supremacist group, isn’t working.
Some 50 neo-Nazis rallied at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Saturday, citing U.S. support for Israel as the reason for the terror attacks in New York and Washington.
An Israeli flag was shredded at the rally, but signs with slogans such as “Jews Control the Federal Reserve” showed the other messages of the hate group.
Anti-globalization and socialist groups challenged the neo-Nazis at a counter-demonstration. The counter- demonstration was not organized by the embassy or Jewish groups.
Local Jewish and civil rights groups had asked community members to stay away from the protest and instead donate to causes that counter the message of hate groups.
Thousands of dollars already have been raised by the effort so far, said David Bernstein, the Washington-area director of the American Jewish Committee.
Bernstein said the National Alliance is using the Palestinian cause as a pretext to blame Jews and Israel for terrorism in the United States.
“If they can create linkage between Israel and the World Trade Center attacks, they can foment hostility toward Jews,” he said.
The hate group rallied at the same site in November and reportedly is planning future rallies as well.
The tactics of the National Alliance are not surprising since the group includes Israel in many of its conspiracy theories, said David Friedman, the director of the Washington regional office of the Anti-Defamation League.
They are seizing on the events of Sept. 11 because they want to manipulate and co-opt any issue they can, he said.
“Any way they can find to blame Israel, they’ll pursue,” Friedman said.
Friedman said the strategy the group is employing is not new but just gaining more media attention. He also dismissed any notion that the group’s strategy merits any rethinking of Jewish response.
On its Web site, the National Alliance has issued a list of demands to the Israeli government, such as stopping the use of torture, assassination and murder as a matter of state policy.
The site says, “The freedom-loving people of the world are adamant that the Jewish state immediately cease its barbaric treatment of the people whose lands it occupies illegally! Israel’s continued genocidal actions leave us no alternative but to call for a total end to all American economic and
military aid to Israel!”
There are 180 active neo-Nazi hate groups in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.
The National Alliance, headquartered in Hillsboro, W. Va., is one of the largest, with over 40 chapters across the country and some 1,000, members.
According to Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Alliance has not significantly increased its membership since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Other groups expressed outrage against Israel and Jews just after the terrorism, but the National Alliance is the only group that is rallying specifically on that basis, said Beirich, a senior writer for the center’s Intelligence Report, a publication that tracks activities of hate groups.
But the National Alliance’s effort to link Israel to the U.S. terrorism has not been very successful, she said.
Beirich said the group had planned a more widespread campaign to protest at different Israeli consulates around the country, but could not get enough participants to support the rallies.