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September 13, 2016

Overarching Theme at U.N. Forum on Anti-Semitism: It’s Everyone’s Problem

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This article originally appeared on The Times of Israel blog with the headline “Even the UN is Fighting Anti-Semitism”

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“The fight against anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem but one for governments and civil society.”

That was the central message of a day-long, historic conference on anti-Semitism held at the United Nations on September 7 and sponsored by the U.S., Canada, Israel and the E.U.

Making it clear that the conference had the imprimateur of the U.N. were the introductory presentations by Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and the current president of the General Assembly.

In the context of the body’s founding, after World War II and the Holocaust, and its foundational resolutions on human rights and genocide, the U.N. should have been the natural home to counter anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, too often, it has been not a force to diminish hatred of Jews but a catalyst for a resurgence of anti-Semitism. This was most notably, but hardly solely, evidenced in the infamous 1975 U.N. resolution equation Zionism with Racism which the first major rationale for anti-Semitism in the post-Holocaust Era.

So, when the U.N. hosts a conference solely devoted to anti-Semitism, as it has now done for a second time, it is an important occasion. And when strong presentations are made by representatives of four governments on why the fight against anti-Semitism needs to be everyone’s business, that too is significant.

The program itself reflected the major theme: it’s everyone’s problem. Official government representatives, including American Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powers and Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon, stressed that the struggle against anti-Semitism is a struggle for Democratic values and that all minorities are at risk if we don’t stand together against Jew hatred.

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Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

Similarly, government involvement with civil society on this issue was deemed vital because the battle could not be won without the partnership of the public and the private.

Some of the issues addressed dealt with the most blatant forms of anti-Semitism as, for example, when Deborah Lipstadt, professor at Emory University,spoke eloquently on the subject of Holocaust denial and its meaning in the 21st century.

Others, such as Samantha Power,spoke to the conundrum that bedevils serious students of anti-Semitism: when is criticism of Israel legitimate and when does it cross the line into anti-Semitism? While that line is not always agreed on, what was consistent throughout the day was the understanding that attacks on Israel’s good name are an integral part of modern-day anti-Semitism and one cannot be serious about addressing anti-Semitism if one does not take into account anti-Israel activity as either personifying or legitimizing anti-Semitism.

Still others, like Roger Cuikerman, head of the French Jewish community and Chris Wolf, chair of ADL’s Task Force on Cyberhate,spoke to the challenge of confronting one of the great modern manifestations of anti-Semitism: Cyberhate and, particularly, cyber anti-Semitism.

There was agreement that cyberhate is more and more of a problem and is linked to terrorist acts and violence against Jews. How to address this serious problem, however, was not agreed upon, partly reflecting different traditions – European and American – on the nature of free speech and how hate speech must be addressed.

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Chris Wolf, a nationally renowned cyberhate expert and longtime ADL leader discusses hate speech on the Internet and social media at a high level forum on global anti-Semitism at the United Nations headquarters.

For Americans and American Jews, free speech interpreted broadly is not only constitutionally protected but is seen as a vital element in the vibrancy of American democracy and the flourishing of Jewish life. The focus then becomes how to work with Internet companies and social media platforms to see that company standards on hate are lived up to rather than turning to the law for remedies.

In Europe, because of a different history, because of the current wave of anti-Semitism and terrorism, and because there is no equivalent of our First Amendment, there is much more of a tendency to look to banning certain speech. All agreed, however, that hate online will be this generation’s main new challenge in the battle against anti-Semitism.

The involvement of society at large in the struggle against anti-Semitism manifested itself in another panel in which non-governmental organization representatives spoke on how Jewish groups encourage and receive support from groups outside the Jewish community. Three themes predominated here: the recognition that working together on such issues benefits all minorities; the added value in the struggle against anti-Semitism when non-Jewish groups speak out; and the need for Jews to be involved in struggles for civil and human rights for African-Americans, Muslim, gays and other minorities.

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Stacy Burdett, ADL VP of Government Relations, Advocacy and Community Engagement, and Kenneth Jacobson, ADL Deputy National Director, participated on a panel highlighted the significance of civil society participation as an essential component in the fight against anti-Semitism.

What was also heartening from this conference was the recognition, alongside the many anxieties surrounding anti-Semitism, that there was much to be thankful for: the state of Israel is a hallmark of Jewish life and security; the Catholic Church has a completely different relationship with the Jewish people than existed for centuries; the international community has accepted a working definition of anti-Semitism, one that includes hatred of Jews connected to hatred of Israel; And that maybe the U.N. itself will start paying more attention to critical issues of anti-Semitism.

Once again, the most important fact about this all-day conference is that it took place under the auspices of the U.N. The ambivalence that haunts American Jews about the world body is its original prospect of helping to ensure a more peaceful and humane world, and its vital role in the founding of Israel juxtaposed with the reality of assaults on the good name of the Jewish state has not disappeared.

None of this should take away from the fact that this was a good day, for democracy, for Israel, for Jews and, for the U.N. itself.

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September 9, 2016

Anti-Semitic 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists Thrive 15 Years After Attacks

Fifteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, anti-Semites continue to spread conspiracy theories blaming Jews and Israel for the events of that day. Anti-Semites Christopher Bollyn, Ken O’Keefe, and Kevin Barrett are three such conspiracy theorists who spread the theory that 9/11 was a “false flag” operation by Israel and the Jews to control world events and create wars for their benefit.

Christopher Bollyn

Christopher Bollyn

Christopher Bollyn was one of the earliest promoters of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories blaming Jews and Israel for the attacks. He first began writing about the attacks soon after they occurred as a reporter for American Free Press, the anti-Semitic conspiracy oriented newspaper.  Since that time, Bollyn has doubled down on his arguments and promoted the view that the 9/11 attacks were a false flag operation by Israel and Jews which led to the “War on Terror.” He is now in the midst of a 2016 speaking tour across the U.S. at which he promotes these themes.

On his website, Bollyn asserts, “The terror attacks of 9/11 were an Israeli false-flag operation that was designed to be blamed on Arab Muslims for the sake of kick-starting the long-planned Zionist stratagem known as the ‘War on Terror,’ which is really an Israeli war agenda to be fought by the U.S.” Bollyn is not the only anti-Semitic 9/11 “truther” who is speaking to audiences in this country.

Ex-Marine Ken O’Keefe is another virulent anti-Semite who conducted a similar tour this past spring that promoted conspiracy theories about 9/11 and Jews. He ostensibly gave the tour to talk about security issues, but he focused on vilifying Jews and Israel. During the tour O’Keefe appeared in a video on YouTube in which he answers an interviewer’s questions about 9/11.

Ken O'Keefe

Ken O’Keefe

In the video, O’Keefe blames Israel and “traitors” in the U.S. government for carrying out the 9/11 attacks. He argues that Jewish neo-conservatives planned a Pearl Harbor-type event so that they and Israel could dominate the world. He describes Jews as “psychopaths” who are trying to carry out a war of aggression that he claims will lead to World War III.

While Bollyn and O’Keefe get their message out through their tours and YouTube, Kevin Barrett, a former professor, has promoted his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories through his blog, online radio show, books and appearances on Press TV, Iran’s English language news network and propaganda machine.  He is also an editor at Veterans Today, an anti-Semitic website. But Barrett has gone beyond the 9/11 attacks to blame “Zionists” and for other events that he considers false flags, such as the terrorist attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino in 2015.

Kevin Barrett

Kevin Barrett

In an article on the Veterans Today site this month, Barrett writes, “The same forces that orchestrated 9/11 – namely, Operation Gladio B [refers to a supposed secret operation to carry out false flag acts and blame them on Muslim extremists] which is essentially a joint NATO-Israeli project – continue to inflict trauma on the American people with their ongoing false flag operations.”

Barrett, who has said he was influenced by Bollyn’s work, has edited a number of books that feature an array of conspiracists and anti-Semites who blame “Zionists” for various terrorist acts that were carried out by Muslim extremists.

The fact that anti-Semites are promoting the idea that Israel and Jews are responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks 15 years after the event is not surprising. In 2003, ADL released a report that predicted that an industry would grow around these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ADL released another report that highlighted how anti-Semites are continue to promote these deceitful theories to further their agenda.

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September 7, 2016

Oregon Neo-Nazi Takes Anti-Semitic Message to the Highways

Jimmy Marr, a well-known neo-Nazi activist in Oregon, has taken to the highways to promote his anti-Semitic, white supremacist agenda. On July 17, 2016, Marr posted photographs on VNN Forum, a prominent neo-Nazi/ white supremacist social media site, showing off a truck adorned signs reading “Jew Lies Matter” and “Truth Dispels Darkness,” accompanied by a swastika. Marr recently began pairing this message with a “Blue Lives Matter” sign, because, as he explained in an August 2016 VNN post: “the Blue Lives/Jew Lies signage works well for me because it aligns my position with cops who might otherwise be unamused by my activism.” In September, Marr re-painted the back of the truck to read: “Trump: Do the White Thing.”

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This provocative joyriding is just the latest episode in Marr’s long history of anti-Semitism and Neo-Nazi activism. Best known for sporting a kilt and playing bagpipes while leading racist and anti-Semitic protests around Oregon and the U.S., Marr has been an active Neo-Nazi since 2009.  He first made news when Oregon recalled his personal license plate, which read, “NO ZOG,” a reference to the “Zionist Occupied Government,” an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that claims the U.S. and other world governments are controlled by a Jewish/Israeli cabal.

Further notoriety came his way when he was a featured speaker at The Pacifica Forum, an independent group in Eugene formed by a retired professor at the University of Oregon (not affiliated with the university), which regularly  sponsored lectures by anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.  In 2009, Marr gave a presentation to the group entitled “The National Socialist Movement: An Inside View of America’s Far-Right.”  During the meeting, according to a member of Eugene’s Anti-Hate Task Force, Marr expressed the view that white DNA is not being sufficiently protected. A year earlier, speaking at the same forum, Marr reportedly called Martin Luther King, Jr., a “moral leper and communist dupe,” and gave a Nazi salute.

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In 2011 and 2012, Marr marched with the National Socialist Movement in Nevada and California, and in 2012, Marr posted the following on the anti-Semitic Zion Crime Factory website:  “I embarked on a regimen of one man street demonstrations last month in which I did street performances on the bagpipes while wearing a sign that read ‘Anti-racism is a code word for anti-White.’” In 2013, he was one of several white supremacists who attempted to take control of the City of Leith, North Dakota, to create a home for whites. (Their doomed efforts were immortalized in the 2015 documentary film “Welcome to Leith”).

When Marr takes to the internet, his postings are, unsurprisingly, extremely anti-Semitic. In a 2012 Facebook post, he wrote:  “There once lived a people, far beyond hope whose daughters were whores.  Sons on dope with conscious decision, they watched Talmudvision, let their brains be washed with Jewish soap.”

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