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Posts Tagged ‘Extremism’
April 26, 2016

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

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

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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