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April 26, 2016 1

New ADL Resources for Safe and Respectful Schools

high school students and tabletsFears of extrem­ism, rad­i­cal­iza­tion and mass vio­lence in our schools have unfor­tu­nately become all too com­mon for edu­ca­tors and school admin­is­tra­tors across the United States. At the same time, infor­ma­tion that allows edu­ca­tors to under­stand the threat and leaves them equipped to address it with­out per­pet­u­at­ing biases and stereo­types is scarce. In order to fill this gap, the Anti-Defamation League and START (the National Con­sor­tium for the Study of Ter­ror­ism and Responses to Ter­ror­ism), have cre­ated a back­grounder pro­vid­ing accu­rate, empir­i­cally tested infor­ma­tion on under­stand­ing mass vio­lence and extrem­ism for edu­ca­tors and school administrators.

The new back­grounder is designed to enable edu­ca­tors to be bet­ter equipped to under­stand and appro­pri­ately respond to observ­able warn­ing signs and to imple­ment pro­grams that fos­ter safe school communities.

By com­bin­ing top­ics of mass vio­lence and vio­lent extrem­ism into one doc­u­ment, the back­grounder strives to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion that is rel­e­vant as well as appro­pri­ate for all school dis­tricts. It empha­sizes the cre­ation of a three-pronged strat­egy to decrease risk for both rad­i­cal­iza­tion and mass vio­lence in schools, through:

  1. Aware­ness of observ­able warn­ing signs,
  2. Devel­op­ment of school pro­grams encour­ag­ing respect and inclu­sion, and
  3. Imple­men­ta­tion of cur­ricu­lum resources teach­ing stu­dents to be safe and con­sci­en­tious con­sumers of online material.

The doc­u­ment pro­vides fact-based evi­dence, empha­siz­ing a goal of pre­ven­tion rather than pre­dic­tion in order to ensure a wide safety net. At the same time, by high­light­ing the fact that feel­ings of iso­la­tion and mar­gin­al­iza­tion often play a pre­cip­i­tat­ing role in rad­i­cal­iza­tion and vio­lence, the doc­u­ment makes clear that pro­grams encour­ag­ing inclu­sion and dis­cour­ag­ing bias are at the core of any suc­cess­ful strat­egy for cre­at­ing safe schools.

In con­junc­tion with this back­grounder, ADL has also released a new Cur­rent Events Class­room les­son for high school stu­dents enti­tled Out­smart­ing Pro­pa­ganda: Com­bat­ting the Lure of Extrem­ist Recruit­ment Strate­gies. Pro­duced with addi­tional assis­tance from START, this cur­ricu­lum pro­vides the resources for stu­dents to uti­lize crit­i­cal think­ing when faced with pro­pa­ganda and mes­sag­ing they encounter online, increas­ing their abil­ity to rec­og­nize and resist extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda and recruit­ment strate­gies.  A par­al­lel resource for fam­i­lies, Pro­pa­ganda, Extrem­ism and Recruit­ment Tac­tics, guides adult fam­ily mem­bers in hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with their chil­dren about ter­ror­ist exploita­tion of the Inter­net and online pro­pa­ganda – again, a cru­cial first step in ensur­ing that young peo­ple are less sus­cep­ti­ble to dan­ger­ous pro­pa­ganda and recruit­ment techniques.

As young peo­ple, par­ents and teach­ers are dis­cussing vio­lence, extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism, it is impor­tant that they don’t fall prey to stereo­typ­ing and scape­goat­ing that can some­times accom­pany these con­ver­sa­tions. In ADL’s anti-bias work, we pro­vide stu­dents with skills to under­stand the lan­guage of bias, be crit­i­cal thinkers, counter bias, big­otry and stereo­typ­ing and learn how to be an ally.

ADL has cre­ated a new web­page called Find­ing the Bal­ance: Coun­ter­ing Extrem­ism and Com­bat­ing Stereo­types that is designed to serve as a com­pre­hen­sive resource by pair­ing these new items with its exten­sive array of mate­ri­als for par­ents and teach­ers on teach­ing and dis­cussing ter­ror­ism, hate and vio­lence, big­otry, and scape­goat­ing, as well as resources for cre­at­ing inclu­sive, bias-free class­rooms. The new site also includes back­ground infor­ma­tion on extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in the U.S. pro­duced by the ADL’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism.

Together, these mate­ri­als will help to fill a cru­cial gap for both par­ents and edu­ca­tors by pro­vid­ing fact-based resources, cur­ric­ula, and back­grounders that can equip them to develop inclu­sive and safe schools, resis­tant to vio­lence and extrem­ism and respect­ful of all students.

 

 

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April 19, 2016 0

The Iranian Regime Has Not Changed

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

Iran Deal-condensed

Talks in Geneva over the Iran Deal in 2015.

A lit­tle over a year ago, the Anti-Defamation League reacted to the newly announced para­me­ters of the agree­ment between the world pow­ers and Iran, say­ing it left us with “many unan­swered ques­tions” about Iran’s nuclear pro­gram and the Islamic Republic’s inten­tion to fully and trans­par­ently uphold its com­mit­ments. “The Iran­ian regime has not changed, “ADL said then, “and we do not expect a change in its behavior.”

A year later, and months into the imple­men­ta­tion of that agree­ment, there is no clear evi­dence that Iran is vio­lat­ing its com­mit­ments, although our ques­tions on Iran’s true inten­tions regard­ing its long-term nuclear ambi­tions remain.

These ques­tions are more impor­tant than ever with ongo­ing debate tak­ing place in Wash­ing­ton over whether the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion should take more steps to facil­i­tate inter­na­tional bank­ing trans­ac­tions and trade between Iran and other states.

With this dis­cus­sion under­way, it’s timely to review the pre­dic­tions made by some experts that the agree­ment would lead to a more mod­er­ate and con­struc­tive Iran. Some opined that the deal would usher in a new approach, mak­ing it a fit­ting mem­ber of the com­mu­nity of nations. The steady pace of com­mer­cial and diplo­matic del­e­ga­tions vis­it­ing Tehran might lead one to believe that there is a glas­nost afoot.

Yet while there may be improved p.r., the regime has changed very lit­tle. It con­tin­ues to dis­play lit­tle regard for the human rights of its own cit­i­zens. It main­tains its poli­cies of regional aggres­sion includ­ing weapons devel­op­ment and test­ing. And it has not slowed its sup­port of ter­ror­ism and spread of base hatreds against Israel and its Jew­ish peo­ple. Indeed, just this week the sup­pos­edly reformed minded Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani called for vig­i­lance “against the dan­ger of the Zion­ist regime” and accused it of “con­tin­ued massacres.”

So much for change.

Unceas­ing Human Rights Vio­la­tions

Iran’s fail­ure to change, despite hopes for greater “open­ness” and “mod­er­a­tion” is most evi­dent in its abysmal human rights record. As the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Sha­heed, recently told the U.N. Human Rights Coun­cil, there “is an alarm­ing surge in the rate of unlaw­ful exe­cu­tions in the coun­try, and ongo­ing arbi­trary arrests, deten­tions and pros­e­cu­tions of indi­vid­u­als for the exer­cise of their fun­da­men­tal rights.“ In 2015, accord­ing to offi­cial gov­ern­ment records at least 966 peo­ple were exe­cuted — the high­est num­ber since 1989, and 10 times as much as a decade ago. Grass­roots reports pro­vide higher rates.

Amnesty Inter­na­tional reports that Iran is the world’s lead­ing execu­tor of juve­niles — and at least 160 indi­vid­u­als under the age of 18 are cur­rently on death row. The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur reported that just since Jan­u­ary, “at least 47 jour­nal­ists and social media activists were report­edly detained in the coun­try …and over 272 inter­net cafe busi­nesses were report­edly closed in 2015 for their alleged ‘threat to soci­etal norms and values.’”

Iran con­tin­ues to per­se­cute reli­gious minori­ties, par­tic­u­larly the Baha’i com­mu­nity, restrict­ing their rights, as the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur said, to “openly man­i­fest their beliefs, to edu­cate their chil­dren, and to earn a liv­ing.” One recent exam­ple: Iran impris­oned a young Baha’i woman whose sole crime was protest­ing the poli­cies that pre­vented her from pur­su­ing higher education.

A legal sys­tem estab­lished by a gov­ern­ment that accords sec­ond class sta­tus to a spe­cific cat­e­gory of its own cit­i­zens, restrict­ing their access to basic ser­vices like edu­ca­tion and shrink­ing their basic civil rights is unacceptable.

Push­ing the enve­lope on aggres­sive weaponry

Pres­i­dent Obama recently said that while “Iran, so far, has fol­lowed the let­ter of the (nuclear) agree­ment” it is under­min­ing the “spirit of the agree­ment” with its “provoca­tive” actions. Most egre­giously, Iran thumbed its nose at the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity with its March launch of long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles — an action restricted by UN Secu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 2231.

An aerial view of a heavy-water production plant, which went into operation despite U.N. demands that Iran roll back its nuclear program, in the central Iranian town of Arak, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Saturday, after the inauguration of the plant, that his nation's controversial nuclear program poses no threat to any other country, even Israel "which is a definite enemy."  (AP Photo/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

An aer­ial view of a heavy-water pro­duc­tion plant, which went into oper­a­tion despite U.N. demands that Iran roll back its nuclear pro­gram, in the cen­tral Iran­ian town of Arak, Sat­ur­day, Aug. 26, 2006. (AP Photo/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

Four of the six world pow­ers who signed the Iran­ian agree­ment — the U.S., U.K., France and Ger­many — sent a let­ter to the heads of the U.N. and Secu­rity Coun­cil call­ing Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile oper­a­tions “incon­sis­tent with” and “in defi­ance of” the Secu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion which bars mis­siles that could carry nuclear weapons. In an omi­nous wink to the coun­try Iran has most pub­licly threat­ened, the Iran­ian news agency Fars said one of the mis­siles tested on March 6 had “Israel must be wiped off the Earth,” writ­ten along its side in Hebrew.

And it’s not just bal­lis­tic mis­siles. In a recent Iran­ian news report, Brigadier Gen­eral Hos­sein Salami of the Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards threat­ened: “The Zion­ist regime will col­lapse in the near future. When Hezbol­lah has stock­piled over 100,000 mis­siles, it means Iran has tens of times more than that. Iran is in pos­ses­sion of dif­fer­ent classes of mis­siles, and this power is unstop­pable.” Around the same time, offi­cials in the city of Lamard held a mil­i­tary train­ing pro­gram for chil­dren with the goal of “con­quer­ing Tel Aviv.”

And the weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion is not just related to Israel. Three times in the last two months, U.S. Naval ships have seized large caches of weaponsbelieved to be sent by Iran intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen. And oth­ers have reported exten­sively on the con­tin­ued train­ing and weapons deploy­ment in Syria in sup­port of the Assad gov­ern­ment whose bru­tal­iza­tion of its own cit­i­zenry insti­gated the civil war that con­tin­ues to wrack the coun­try and desta­bi­lize the region.

Con­tin­ued cam­paign to destroy Israel and its Jew­ish population

Mean­while, even as Iran puts on a pub­lic face to court inter­na­tional busi­ness and invest­ment, its pro­pa­ganda machine churns out base con­spir­acy the­o­ries about Jews and Israel. A recent absurd alle­ga­tion asserted that imports of “genet­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts are a ‘Zion­ist plot’ to infect Ira­ni­ans with dis­eases and a ‘seri­ous exam­ple of infil­tra­tion.’ And, while Pres­i­dent Rouhani has not touted the issue like his pre­de­ces­sor Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad had, it is appar­ent that Holo­caust denial and mock­ery are very much alive and well within Iran­ian soci­ety, with aca­d­e­mic exam­i­na­tions of the issue and car­toon contests.

The Jew­ish fes­ti­val of Purim, which com­mem­o­rates ancient Persia’s Queen Esther and Mordechai’s sav­ing of the Jews from the evil Haman who planned to kill them all, has long pro­vided anti-Semitic fod­der in Iran. Point­ing to the Book of Esther’s telling that after Haman was killed, 75,000 Per­sians were slain, Ira­ni­ans have manip­u­lated this ancient story and pre­sented it as a “holo­caust” and “geno­cide” per­pe­trated by the Jews against Ira­ni­ans, and the real source of alleged Jew­ish hos­til­ity toward Iran.

Iran - Anti-Israel Slogan Blog 2015

In a recent arti­cle enti­tled “Purim: the Iran­ian Holo­caust by Jews, A Cel­e­bra­tion of Half a Mil­lion Iran­ian Mas­sa­cred” in Gha­treh, asserted: “Zion­ists’ hatred and jeal­ousy of the ancient his­tory and glo­ri­ous civ­i­liza­tion of Iran for their sci­en­tific advances and their his­tor­i­cal achieve­ments, par­tic­u­larly after the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion is not some­thing they can hide. The Zionist’s infe­ri­or­ity feel­ing toward the great­ness of the Iran­ian nation has a his­tor­i­cal root. By one glance to the his­tor­i­cal con­text and events that hap­pened between Ira­ni­ans and this peo­ple prove the fact. After Cyrus as a ruler who was a seeker for jus­tice, released cap­tive Jews from Baby­lo­nia, he never imag­ined the same peo­ple after few years would carry out a creep­ing coup against Iran and Ira­ni­ans and respond to the kind­ness of Ira­ni­ans, would be bru­tal slaugh­ter of them.”

It is galling to see the Islamic Repub­lic gain acco­lades for tweets in Eng­lish around Rosh Hashanah while its sup­port­ers use Farsi to issue such anti-Semitic screeds that seem like updated ver­sions of the Pro­to­cols of Zion.

In con­clu­sion, a year after the path was forged to the nuclear agree­ment with Iran much has changed. Pres­i­dent Rouhani trav­eled to Rome and Paris to pro­mote trade and eco­nomic part­ner­ship with Iran. Iran was a key par­tic­i­pant in the talks lead­ing to a cease­fire in Syria — much to the con­ster­na­tion of its Per­sian Gulf rivals. Iran finally released four Amer­i­can pris­on­ers it had been hold­ing, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton Post bureau chief Jason Rezaian.

But when it comes to its inter­nal illib­eral poli­cies, human rights vio­la­tions, the spread­ing of hate against Jews and its con­tin­ued mil­i­tancy against its neigh­bors, the past year has made no dif­fer­ence. As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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April 13, 2016 3

Firearms Increasingly Weapon of Choice in Extremist-Related Killings

extremistkillingswithfirearms1970-2015In the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, the bomb is the weapon typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ists or extremists—but in the U.S. extrem­ists seem to be killing more peo­ple with firearms than with any other weapon, and that use may be increasing.

It is cer­tainly true that many of the high-profile ter­ror­ist attacks in the United States over the past cen­tury have been bomb­ings, includ­ing the 1919 anar­chist bomb­ing cam­paign, the 1963 16th Street Bap­tist Church bomb­ing, the 1995 bomb­ing of the Mur­rah Fed­eral Build­ing in Okla­homa City, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb­ing, among many oth­ers. Extrem­ist ser­ial bombers such as the Weather Under­ground, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczyn­ski, and Eric Rudolph have all got­ten their share of headlines.

How­ever, extrem­ists use a wide vari­ety of deadly imple­ments to com­mit their crimes, terrorist-related or oth­er­wise, from fists and boots to air­planes. The most com­mon tool of vio­lence seems to be the sim­ple firearm, a weapon that extrem­ists can use when com­mit­ting ter­ror­ist acts, hate crimes, assas­si­na­tions, armed rob­beries, and all man­ner of tra­di­tional crime. In the United States, firearms are easy to obtain and easy to use. Amer­i­can extrem­ists of all pos­si­ble types, from the far left to the far right, as well as reli­gious extrem­ists, have used firearms to com­mit deadly acts.

How com­mon is such firearms use in the United States? The Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism exam­ined 890 mur­ders com­mit­ted by domes­tic extrem­ists in the United States from 1970 through 2015—both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological killings by extrem­ist perpetrators—and dis­cov­ered that around 55% of these killings involved use of a firearm; all other weapons com­bined made up the other 45%.

This fig­ure sig­ni­fies both the pop­u­lar­ity of firearms among extrem­ist move­ments in the United States, espe­cially right-wing extrem­ists, as well as the fact that attacks with other types of weapons may be less likely to end in death. Attacks using knives or fists, for exam­ple, may pos­si­bly result in non-fatal injuries more often than firearms. On the other end of the scale, bomb­ings are more dif­fi­cult to carry out—with many extrem­ist bomb­ing plots detected and pre­vented by law enforce­ment from ever being executed.

When one breaks down the num­bers by decade, it appears that, after a dip in the 1980s and 1990s, firearms are becom­ing more pop­u­lar than ever as the deadly weapons of choice for Amer­i­can extrem­ists. Not only have the num­bers of domestic-extremist related killings in the U.S. increased over the past 20 years, but so too has the fre­quency of firearms as the weapons in such killings.

In the 1970s, extremists—primarily com­ing from the far left—used firearms in 61% of domes­tic extremist-related killings in the United States. Many of these inci­dents involved mem­bers of left-wing extrem­ist groups such as the Black Pan­thers and the Black Lib­er­a­tion Army attack­ing police officers.

The per­cent­age of firearms use in extremist-related killings dipped in the 1980s, to only 46%, then dropped dras­ti­cally in the 1990s, down to 20%. This lat­ter fig­ure is greatly dis­torted by the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, which itself resulted in 168 deaths, but even if the bomb­ing were left out of the cal­cu­la­tions, the new num­ber would only be 42%. There are sev­eral rea­sons that seem to account for these lower fig­ures, includ­ing the rise of white suprema­cist prison gangs com­mit­ting mur­ders behind bars and the growth of the racist skin­head sub­cul­ture in the United States, whose adher­ents often eschewed firearms for beat­ing and stab­bing attacks.

How­ever, in the 2000s, firearms once more were the deadly weapons in the major­ity of killings, with 62% of the killings between 2001 and 2010 involv­ing one or more firearms. So far in the cur­rent decade, the per­cent­ages are even higher, with 72% of the domestic-extremist related deaths from 2011 through 2015 involv­ing firearms.

What accounts for this increase? Sev­eral fac­tors seem to have played a role. One is the increased use of firearms by sev­eral extrem­ist move­ments. Racist skin­heads seem to use firearms with greater fre­quency in the 2000s than they did in ear­lier decades, while the growth of white suprema­cist prison gang activ­ity on the streets—as opposed to behind bars—has allowed their mem­bers much greater access to and use of firearms.

Even more con­cern­ing is the appar­ent grav­i­ta­tion of domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists towards firearms as a weapon of choice. In the early years of this move­ment, fol­low­ing the 2003 U.S. inva­sion of Iraq, much of the energy of those extrem­ists with vio­lent impulses were directed at elab­o­rate plots involv­ing bombs or even mil­i­tary weapons—plots typ­i­cally stopped by law enforce­ment before they could ever be car­ried out.

Since 2009, how­ever, there have been a num­ber of high-profile inci­dents in which Islamic extrem­ists have used firearms to con­duct shoot­ings (and one instance, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, where the per­pe­tra­tors used both bombs and firearms), includ­ing shoot­ings at Ft. Hood, Texas; Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas; Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee; and San Bernardino, California.

The rise of ISIS in the past sev­eral years may have con­tributed to the increase in attempted small arms attacks; Al Qaeda gen­er­ally favored high-spectacle and sym­bolic attacks, whereas ISIS has been more prac­ti­cal, urg­ing adher­ents to com­mit any attack they think they can pull off.

Most of the Islamic-related shoot­ings were mass shoot­ings, which may be the final piece of the puz­zle. Though most extrem­ist killings con­tinue to take one vic­tim at a time, the num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tims in deadly extremist-related inci­dents (both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological) has cer­tainly grown. Since 2001, there have been 24 domes­tic extrem­ist inci­dents in which at least three peo­ple were killed—and firearms were the weapons used in the vast major­ity of these cases, includ­ing such deadly shoot­ing sprees as the 2012 Wis­con­sin Sikh tem­ple shoot­ing and the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

The increased num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tim inci­dents by extrem­ists is also one of the rea­sons why the death toll has been ris­ing. From extrem­ists on the right such as white suprema­cists and anti-government extrem­ists to reli­gious extrem­ists such as domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, gun vio­lence seems more likely to increase than decrease in the com­ing months and years

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