Sunday, February 25, 2007

Russian youths build neo-Nazi fifth column in ISRAEL ! 

Israeli Web sites post Nazi, Holocaust-denial materials

By Moti Katz, Haaretz Correspondent
Sun., February 25, 2007 Adar 7, 5767

Haaretz has uncovered Internet sites put up by Israelis in their 30s who immigrated from the CIS that supply Nazi and Russian nationalist content.

In 2003 a Web site operated by Ilia Zolotov, an Israel Defense Forces soldier who called himself a "Russian patriot," was exposed. The Web site, whose name translates to the White Israeli Union, was housed on an Israeli server. Its content included Nazi and Holocaust-denial materials. It was eventually closed down by the police. Zolotov was sentenced to community service and sent on a tour of death camps in Poland.

Since the closure of Zolotov's Web site, his successors have gotten more sophisticated. Now they use servers based abroad, usually in Russia, to evade the authorities. One such site operator is Alex [a pseudonym], who is in his 30s and holds a security-related job. His site, www.rusnatcentre.tk, is hosted by a Russian server. Alex refers to himself on the site as "the Russian tank operator" or "the fighter from Jerusalem," a tribute to his service in the Armored Corps. In a conversation with Haaretz, he denied that his site carries anti-Semitic messages, asserting that it is pro-Russian only.

"The Russian National Center is a Russian nationalist association that lives in Israel," Alex explains. "The main mission of our organization is nationalist propaganda among ethnic Russians residing in Israel, encouraging their return to Russia, opposing the return of Jews from Israel to Russia, and opposing conversion to Judaism," Alex said. He will not reveal membership figures, saying only it is a "global organization whose members are adults, most of them after army service and the majority living in the center of the country."

A Haaretz probe reveals that the RNC site is indeed Russian nationalist in nature, but it also contains anti-Semitic material. The home page features a Celtic cross, a symbol that has been adopted by neo-Nazis, and warns all Jews who have immigrated to Israel not to dare to return to Russia. It calls on all non-Jewish Russians who immigrated to Israel to return to Russia and to leave the Jews [using the derogatory Russian term zhid] in their country.

Alex is active on other, specifically Nazi, forums, such as www.slavnazi.com, in which he recommended Jurgen Graf's "The Myth of the Holocaust" to readers in July 2005. There were 118 favorable responses from Israel to that posting.

Alex also regularly recommends films and music in Russian with Nazi content. One of his recommendations in the latter category is Kolovrat, which is known as a Nazi band. About a year ago the band members were arrested and banned for distributing Nazi propaganda when they traveled to the Czech Republic on a concert tour. Alex's site asks readers to sign a petition calling for the group's release, which has garnered about 150 signatures from Israeli Internet users.

Alex gets mad when he is asked whether the call to release Kolovrat is anti-Semitic. "Of course such an action won't please the Jews, like any other action on the part of Russian nationalist!" Alex says.

When asked whether the mass Jewish immigration of Russian Jews in the 1990s was a mistake, he says it depends which immigrants you mean. "The Jewish immigration to Israel is the best and only solution, apparently, to the Jewish question in Russia. On the other hand, the mass emigration of ethnic Russians from Russia is a big mistake that we [the RNC] must correct."

Dr. Elana Gomel, chair of the English Department at Tel Aviv University and author of "Atem ve'anachnu" ("You and Us"), a book on being Russian in Israel, agrees that there is anti-Semitism in Israel. "After the collapse of Communism," she says, "states that were part of the Soviet Union licked their wounds and looked for ways to make up for the downfall, and it came in the form of reinforcing their nationalism. The vacuum left by Communism was filled by fascism and Nazism," Gomel says.

"Their message is, 'if I'm not accepted here as a Jew, then I'll remain Russian,'" Gomel said. "The enormous gap in mentality between the cultures of the Sabras and the immigrants doesn't help their absorption into society and they develop antagonism to Israeli society. The absurdity," Gomel adds, "is that even if the anti-Semitic nationalists return to Russia, the Russian anti-Semites won't accept them and will persecute them just as people of Jewish extraction in the Wehrmacht during the Nazi regime were persecuted. The phenomenon is sick because it is a form of self-flagellation that cannot be stopped," Gomel said.

Vandalism as an expression of anti-Semitism in Israel.

Six minors, immigrants from the CIS, were arrested early this year on suspicion of burning flags and stealing mezuzahs from Nahshonim School in Bat Yam. They also confessed to stealing mezuzahs from homes in the city on eight additional occasions. The teens attributed their actions to a hatred for Jews and Judaism. In the past three months, there have been five break-ins at synagogues in the southern city of Arad. All of the incidents have involved vandalism, the theft of charity boxes and the scrawling of obscenities on the walls.

In the past several years there have been similar incidents carried out by young immigrants from the CIS, including the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, throughout the country. Many religious institutions have instituted security measures as a result. In 2006 there were at least six reports of broken headstones, desecration of synagogues and graffiti with swastikas and anti-Semitic sentiments, according to figures gathered by Damir, an organization that assists victims of anti-Semitism.

Hitler youth

Irina, 18, lives in central Israel. She belonged to a group of young people, "Nazi skinheads," that terrorized the ultra-Orthodox residents of a central-Israel city. "I was a 'skin girl,'" relates Irina, whose was the girlfriend of the group's leader, Leonid [a pseudonym - M.K.]. Leonid, who is now about 19, immigrated at age 10 from Azerbaijan on the Law of Return. The only Jew in his family was one of his grandfathers.

Irina says that Leonid's downslide began in the ninth grade. He felt alienated from Israeli society and decided to join up with a Nazi skinhead group. "We were a bunch of Russian new immigrants, boys and girls," Irina relates. "Most of the boys had shaved heads and wore army pants."

A group of about 15 teens who believed in the Nazi ideology coalesced around Leonid. One of their favorite activities, Irina says, was attacking Haredi. "Nazi skinheads hate the religious, especially Haredim, for them the Haredim are the ugly Jews ... On weekends we'd meet in the parks, drinking and smoking and listening to Nazi music," and then they would go out in search of dossim [a derogatory Hebrew term for religious Jews], Irina related. "On Hitler's birthday we'd met at a cemetery and celebrate," she said.


NGO finds local media, politicians apathetic to anti-Semitism at home - 'Who cares about neo-Nazis in Israel?'

By Moti Katz
Fri., March 02, 2007 Adar 12, 5767

"I didn't know the presence of neo-Nazis in Israel interested the Israeli media," says Zalman Gilichinsky, looking bored.

Gilichinsky has been surveilling neo-Nazi activity in Israel for the past 17 years from his modest apartment in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood, but failed to attract the media or authorities' attention. "Nobody wants to know. The politicians ignore it. Occasionally, some act of vandalism makes the headlines, raising a brief interest that dies shortly afterward," he says.

In April 2003, the Russian-language newspaper Russki Israiltyanin carried a story about the neo-Nazi Bei (White Israeli Union) Web site.

The British newspaper The Guardian reported the story, which also appeared in Haaretz, raising a storm. The cabinet held a session about it and the attorney general ordered a criminal investigation. The Web site was shut down immediately. A Knesset committee headed by MK Colette Avital was set up to probe the issue and invited Gilichinsky to talk about it.

This cheered him up somewhat, but not for long. The committee was slow and ineffective, he says. "Avital asked the police years ago to prepare a report. To this day it has not been done," he says.

The committee's last debate was in July 2005. Avital asked the police whether they had completed the report. They said they were still studying the subject. Gilichinsky's queries to Petah Tikva police commander Moti Feldman about anti-Semitic incidents in that town received no response.

Gilichinsky also has complaints against the Israeli media. "In Western countries, anti-Semitic incidents receive wide media coverage, the politicians denounce it and fight against it. But the Israeli media ignore it and are afraid to deal with it," he says.

In contrast, the foreign media is interested and interviews Gilichinsky frequently, he says. Reporters from Finnish and Swedish radio are on their way to talk to him, he says. "I received calls from all over the world after the story of the desecration of the synagogue in Petah Tikva. Only in Israel there was hardly any interest."

Gilichinsky, married and a father of four, immigrated to Israel in 1989 from Kishinev, capital of the republic of Moldova due to the rising anti-Semitism and the shaky economic situation. He never dreamed that in the Jewish state he would run into the anti-Semitism he had fled from.

"Shortly after I arrived, I saw a letter from immigrants in the Russian language newspaper Novosti Nedeli, about the anti-Semitic conduct of certain imigrants, who swore at them said, among other things, "pity Hitler didn't liquidate the lot of you."

He started looking into the matter and following similar incidents in the Russian language media. "At first it was just curiosity, until in 1999 I ran an ad in Vesti, asking immigrants to report incidents of anti-Semitism in Israel. To my surprise, I received hundreds of letters. I realized it was a growing trend," he says.

He and a friend founded the Information Center for Victims of Anti-Semitism in Israel, a Jerusalem-based non-governmental organization. It is run by volunteers, mainly immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Realizing the need to focus on public relations and information, he set up the Web site pogrom.org.il about three years ago.

Gilichinsky's requests to cooperate with the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center went unanswered. Professor Dina Porat, Director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel-Aviv University, replied to his request for help, saying that the institute has "no mandate to deal with incidents in Israel and only deals with anti-Semitism overseas."

"I guess there are more urgent things in Israel than anti-Semitism," he says.

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