Neo-Nazi Activity Spreading Around the World
Neo-Nazi activity is rising around the world, as incidents in September and early October were reported in Europe, Southeast Asia and the U.S.
In the United States, an epidemic of neo-Nazi vandalism is beginning to surface on the eastern seaboard.
Anti-Semites erected a four-foot high swastika at a Long Island, New York school this week in the latest of a rash of anti-Semitic incidents. Swastikas were also sprayed at another school and hate mail was sent to at least seven Jewish homes.
On September 23, Yom Kippur eve, a bus outside the Bnei Shimon Yisroel yeshiva in Brooklyn was found marked up with swastikas and anti-Jewish slurs. Vandals used soap or lotion to smear the mirrors and bus interior. The incident occurred in Williamsburg, a primarily Jewish Chassidic section of the borough.
Police are investigating the incident, but a school official quoted in local papers said educators don't expect results anytime soon.
“You see people doing all kinds of graffiti in this neighborhood,” said the school official, who asked not to be identified. Even if there had been witnesses, he added, they would probably not have paid attention to the incident.
In a rural area near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this week, a 60-foot wide swastika was carved in a cornfield. The farmer destroyed it by harvesting the crop.
A similar, but more extreme incident occurred in the same area last month, when a huge 600-foot wide swastika was found carved in another cornfield.
In Southeast Asia, and Eastern and Western Europe, anti-Semitism increases with neo-Nazi incidents, some quite creative.
A bed linen dealer in India named a new bedspread collection NAZI, which he claimed stands for “New Arrival Zone of India.” The claim was suspect, however, due to the Nazi symbol of a hooked cross that forms part of the logo as well as the dealer’s lack of concern about the furor the design has caused.
“It really does not matter to me who feels bad about it,” said the dealer, Kapilkumar Todi, according to a report last week in the Times of India. The Jewish Council of India said it was exploring the possibility of legal action against the dealer, and Chairman Jonathan Solomon of the India Jewish Federation said his community would lodge a protest as well.
Eventually, the company backed down and withdrew the collection.
A bar in a Seoul, Korea suburb promotes a Nazi theme, according to a report Monday in the English-language Korea Herald. Israeli Ambassador Yigal Caspi has filed a protest, saying, "I feel repulsed, outraged and disgusted."
The owner of the bar, who was quoted in the report said he chose the theme in order "to be different." The bar features a red Nazi swastika over the entrance.
The newspaper's front-page article explained that it did not print the name of the establishment or its exact location because it did not want to give the bar publicity.
Jews in Lisbon, Portugal were shocked by the first-ever desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the country's capital this week. Police have arrested two youths accused of vandalizing 20 gravestones and painting Nazi swastikas.
Jewish community leader Esther Mucznik will protest to the government the "pure act of racism and anti-Semitism," according to the European Jewish Press. Approximately 1,000 Jews live in Portugal.
In northern Germany, a news anchorwoman for the region’s public television channel was fired Sunday after she praised the way the Nazi regime treated women and the family unit.
The presenter, Eva Herman, said that the Nazi regime included "many very bad things, Adolf Hitler for example, but it included some good things, like the appreciation of women."
Austria’s Defense Ministry issued a statement early last month announcing that four soldiers had been suspended from service for creating neo-Nazi propaganda.
The four were found guilty of preparing two videos in which they were seen using the Nazi salute while in uniform on an army base. One of the soldiers exposed a tattoo of a swastika.
Austrian authorities began investigating the matter after discovering the videos on the popular website YouTube. Defense Minister Norbert Darabos said the soldiers could face charges.
Prague officials over the weekend banned a march by the neo-Nazi Young National Democrats who planned to parade through the city's Jewish quarter the day after the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when Nazis terrorized Jews and burned down synagogues 69 years ago.
City officials responding to pleas by Jews to cancel the event stated that the planned march would lead to incitement and further hatred of Jews.
Prague leaders originally said that they could not stop the march because a court overturned a ban on a similar march last year.
Polish vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in the central city of Kalisz in the first week of September in the latest of several desecrations in the same cemetery over the past several months.
According to the European Jewish Press, the vandals also destroyed a memorial plaque dedicated to the Jews of Kalisz, where some 20,000 to 30,000 Jews lived before the Nazi invasion.
Hungarian government officials are also on edge after a large neo-Nazi cell marched in the capital in the first week of September.
Fifty-six Magyar Garda [Hungarian Guard] members marched in polished combat boots and black uniforms to Budapest's presidential palace and raised their right hands in a salute to defend the country from "bloodsuckers."
The neo-Nazi marchers took an oath of allegiance in a ceremony that evoked "images of the Hungarian fascists who flew the same banner in the 1930s," Bloomberg News reported.
Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany vowed in response to make inciting racial hatred a crime. The Anti-Defamation League has stated that prejudice against Jews in Hungary is more widespread than in any other European country. The Magyar Garda denies being anti-Semitic.