2012 August » ADL Blogs
August 21, 2012

“Free Palestine! End ZioNazi Apartheid!”: A Snapshot of Al Quds Day 2012

Al Quds Day is commemorated annually with mass rallies and speeches on the last Friday of Ramadan. It has traditionally been marked by hostile rhetoric towards the state of Israel, including blatant anti-Semitism.

Al Quds Day Protest in LA

This year, for example, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Israel as an “insult to all of humankind” and called for Israel’s destruction. Secretary-General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah similarly threatened that Hezbollah has the power to “transform the lives of millions of Zionists in Israel to a real hell.”

While the largest Al Quds Day events generally take place in the Middle East, protests are also held in cities across the United States. The protests, which took place last Friday in a dozen U.S. cities, were rife with extreme language, including signs that compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust.

In New York, L.A. and Houston, large banners reading “Stop Palestinian Genocide” were on display, as well as other signs that read, “Israel is a Cancer,” “Down with Zionism,” Holocaust in Palestine” and “Gaza=Auschwitz.” A woman in New York held a sign that said, “Free Palestine! End ZioNazi Apartheid! No $$ to ‘Israel!’ Boycott ‘Israel’.”

Speakers at several rallies also used fanatical rhetoric to denounce Israel. Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Neturei Karta called for the “dismantlement of the entire State of Israel” during an address at the Los Angeles protest. Another Neturei Karta speaker, this one at the New York rally held in Times Square, led the audience in chants of “Judaism, Yes, Zionism, No, the State of Israel must go” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” In a media interview, an organizer of the Houston protest pledged to continue to “commemorate” Al Quds Day, saying, “This demand for justice will take place every year until Palestine will be free from Zionist hands!”

NYC Al Quds Day Flyer

A second speaker at the event in New York, ANSWER activist Sara Flounders, expressed implicit support for Hezbollah when she addressed the crowd, saying “We stand with the resistance in Lebanon today.” Flounders, who also declared solidarity with the regimes in Iran and Syria, has previously participated in conferences in Beirut attended by representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah. At one such conference in January 2009, Flounders said, “We need to militantly support Hamas…We need to make it clear that we support the right to resist, the right to fire rockets.”

Many of the protests also featured imagery and messaging designed to further fan the flames of the conflict and paint Israel as a violent oppressor. At the rally in Los Angeles, for example, several children held signs that read, “Israel is killing children like me.”

The Iranian-owned television station Press TV reported on the Al Quds Day protest that took place in Washington, D.C. and interviewed one of the speakers at the event. The speaker, Imam Abdul Alim Musa (an anti-Semitic extremist who founded the Sabiqun movement) called for Israel’s defeat and described Gaza as the “biggest open-air prison.”

Al Quds Day, which refers to the Arabic term for Jerusalem, was initiated in 1979 in Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini.

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August 21, 2012

Anti-Immigrant Movement Dealt Blow by U.S. Appeals Court

On August 20, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a mixed ruling for recent anti-immigrant laws passed in Alabama and Georgia. For both laws, HB 56 and HB 87, the court followed the decision of the U.S.  Supreme Court earlier this summer regarding a similar Arizona law (Arizona et al v. United States). The appeals court thus upheld provisions in the two state laws that allowed police to check the immigration status of people suspected of committing a crime.

Mike Hethmon

The court, however, struck down other provisions of both states’ laws, including one of the major features of the Alabama law, a provision that required public schools to check the citizenship status of new students. This is a major blow to the anti-immigrant movement, which saw the provision as a significant step towards overturning the Supreme Court’s landmark 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision, which ruled that all children, regardless of their immigration status, are permitted to attend K-12 public schools in the United States.

Overturning Plyler v. Doe has been one of the anti-immigrant movement’s key long-term goals; many major anti-immigrant groups have spoken openly about overturning the decision. In November 2011, for example, the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) wrote hopefully about what Alabama’s HB 56 might accomplish: “Thus, the collection of immigration data regarding K-12 students in Alabama (and indeed in other states) could provide concrete evidence needed to revise the Supreme Court’s holding in Plyler v. Doe.” FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), actually helped draft HB 56. In a 2011 interview with the New York Times, Mike Hethmon of IRLI said that the eventual goal was to challenge Plyler v. Doe.

Similarly, the Center for Immigration Studies, a major anti-immigration think tank, published a report in 2005 by Mark Levin that claimed that the Pyler v. Doe decision “is perhaps the most egregious of the Court’s immigration rulings.” Former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, for many years the leading anti-immigrant voice in Arizona, also floated the idea of forcing undocumented children to pay tuition to attend public schools in his state. This, of course, would have been in direct violation of the Plyler v. Doe ruling.

The court’s decision on the school provision is thus not only a significant civil rights decision that protects children.  It also thwarts one of the key planks of the anti-immigrant movement’s agenda.

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August 17, 2012

Possible Extremist Connection to Louisiana Police Shootings

Two Louisiana sheriff’s deputies were killed on Thursday in LaPlace in two separate but related incidents.  One or more of the suspects in the killings may have ties to extremism.

Terry Lyn Smith

The first shooting incident occurred at a Valero corporation facility, when a gunman opened fire on a St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff’s deputy, wounding him.  Deputies followed a vehicle to a trailer park.  However, another person exited a nearby trailer with an assault rifle and opened fire on the officers.  Two deputies were killed and another was wounded.

Seven people have been arrested in connection with the murders:  Terry Lyn Smith, 44; Brian Lyn Smith, 24; Derrick Smith, 22; Chanel Skains, 37; Kyle David Joekel, 28; Teniecha Bright, 21; and Brittney Keith, 23.  All except Keith and Skains have been charged with principal to attempted first degree murder of a police officer.  Keith and Skains face charges of being accessories after the fact to attempted first degree murder of a police officer.

Reports emerged in early media coverage from law enforcement sources that one or more of the people arrested may be involved with an extremist group or movement, including possibly the extreme anti-government sovereign citizen movement.   Authorities in Nebraska have said that Joekel was on an FBI watchlist.  Joekel is wanted in Nebraska and Kansas on marijuana charges and on allegation of making terroristic threats regarding attacking law enforcement officers.  In June 2012, while still a fugitive, Joekel posted his resume as a welder and pipefitter to an on-line jobs site, including an address and phone number.  Terry Lyn Smith is also a pipefitter.

The suspects had recently been under police surveillance in DeSoto Parish after the sheriff’s office had received reports of people at a trailer park entering and leaving vehicles with assault weapons.  However, they left the trailer park in June.

As of this writing, no information has emerged to clearly confirm the allegations of sovereign citizen connections, but one of the suspects, Terry Lyn Smith, has indicators of anti-government extremist leanings on his various social networking profiles.  In particular, on a Myspace profile Smith lists, as either “heroes” or people he’d “like to meet,” Alex Jones, the Texas-based conspiracy-oriented and anti-government radio talk show host; Randy Weaver, the white supremacist at the center of the 1992 Ruby Ridge, Idaho, standoff; and David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians during the 1993 Waco, Texas, standoff.   Those two standoffs were the main sparks for the resurgence of right-wing extremism in the mid-to-late 1990s, including the Oklahoma City bombing.

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