Neo-Nazi rallies in America's urban centers are most often the tiny affairs of a few racists, and are often drowned out by massive counter-protests. But on August 24, hundreds of followers of the National Alliance and other neo-Nazis, under a front called Taxpayers Against Terrorism, held their fourth and largest anti-Israel event in Washington since September 11. The racist National Alliance and other white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are piggybacking on anti-globalization and anti-Israeli occupation movements with a new enthusiasm by adopting anti-corporate and pro-Palestinian rhetoric, hoping to recruit young activists drawn to the post-Battle of Seattle political milieu.
Neo-Nazis "are definitely gaining confidence," says Zein El-Amine, who helped recruit progressive Arabs to the rally's counter-protest. "They are getting more sophisticated with their organizing. They had Arabic signs at this demo that said "'Zionism is terrorism.' "
The confidence shows in numbers. The rally of more than 300 on August 24 was significantly larger than its counterpart on May 11, thanks to online organizing and a new tactic of holding a "Rock Against Israel" concert featuring hate rock acts Brutal Attack, Celtic Warrior and Intimidation One at a "secret location" after the protest. Only those who attended the rally were allowed entry to the show, which was held at a National Guard armory in White Marsh, Maryland.
The progressive-sounding Web site www.g8activist.com is home to the so-called Anti-Globalism Action Network (AGAN), another front for the National Alliance. At first blush, the group sounds legit. The URL is designed to resemble www.g8activist.ca , a real anti-globalization site, and AGAN claims to stand against the Bush administration's imminent war on Iraq. The site has reposted an article by David Finkel from the socialist magazine Against the Current that criticizes Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. National Alliance members like Bill White often post to the boards at www.indymedia.org to hype forthcoming events; others make dubious free speech pleas "towards a broadening of the anti-globalism movement to include divergent and marginalized voices," as the AGAN Web site puts it.
While the tactics are new, the strategy isn't. According to Finkel, a longtime pro-Palestinian activist: "Fascists and racists of all stripes usually strike a pose of 'anti-globalism' and sometimes even 'anti-capitalism,' and anti-Semites in particular pose as friends of the Palestinian people when they feel it will advance their real agenda of promoting hatred of Jews."
In the United States, groups like the White Aryan Resistance and followers of Lyndon LaRouche tried to join coalitions against the Gulf War in 1991, and modern-day "Third Position" groups who claim to be "neither left nor right" simultaneously claim both Che Guevara and Benito Mussolini as inspirations. A few dozen members of Nazi and white-supremacist groups skirted the edges of the anti-WTO protests in Seattle in 1999, managing to conflate themselves with the anti-racist anarchist militants of the "black bloc" in the minds of mainstream anti-hate organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Implying cooperation between the two groups, the SPLC asked in a 2000 report, "How is it that members of the far 'left' and 'right' found themselves facing down police together?" The ADL continues to list the circle-A symbol of anarchism as a "general racist symbol" on its Web site.
The National Alliance is also working to exploit continuing fear of terror attacks with a new community-based "terror-free zone" campaign, which calls for an end to U.S. aid to Israel alongside a return to pre-1965 U.S. immigration regulations. The National Alliance leaflet, being distributed in working-class neighborhoods, says the group will collect names of neighborhood signatories and pass them on to nations in the Middle East. This will ensure, the group claims, that communities signing on will be "declared terror-free zones" and will "not be targeted for reprisals."
Of course, the pro-Palestinian gloss is just that. Before his death earlier this summer, William Pierce, the leader of the National Alliance, told Michelle Cottle of The New Republic: "My primary concern is not really for Palestinian freedom or how they run their lives over there - or for the Iraqis." The National Alliance sees Arabs in France and Germany as little more than subhumans who need to be removed from the continent. The post-9/11 shift represents nothing more than the dovetailing of interests of white supremacists and the most extreme Muslim fundamentalists: the elimination of multiculturalism, extreme nationalism and vicious anti-Semitism.
It is unlikely the Nazis will be able to recruit sizable numbers with this latest scheme. "These loathsome neo-Nazi cults are small in numbers and influence," Finkel says, "which is why they act in this parasitic fashion."