extremist group

AS ANTISEMITISM RISES, GERMANY LABELS HEZBOLLAH RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST GROUP

 

Germany’s government reported to Green Party MP Volker Beck on Friday an increase in the number of criminal antisemitic acts. This includes Israel-related antisemitism, and the classification of Hezbollah’s crimes as far-right extremism.
The federal government said 681 antisemitic incidents occurred in the first half of 2017–a 4% increase when compared to the same period in 2016 (in which 654 criminal antisemitic acts took place) .

Beck told the Jerusalem Post that “The antisemitic and anti-Israel criminal offenses are only the tip of the iceberg.” He added the registered offenses are only those that the victims came forward to report. “The estimated number of unreported cases, I fear, is clearly higher,” said Beck.

Dr. Emily Haber from the German federal interior ministry said that 20 “politically motivated criminal offenses under the category Israel” took place in the documented 2017 period. The police conducted investigations against 12 perpetrators. There were no physical injuries reported.

In the same period in 2016, the federal government said 17 political crimes against Israel were registered. The authorities investigated 6 suspects and no injuries were cited. Anti-Israel criminal acts were listed under the sub-topic “Israel-Palestine conflict.” Starting in January, 2017, politically-animated attacks against Israel are listed under the sub-rubric “Israel.” The cited suspects hailed from Germany, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey.

Antisemitic acts not related to Israel accounted for 681 offenses in the 2017 period. The authorities investigated 339 people and nine people were injured. In 2016, the government registered 654 anti-Semitic criminal crimes and 400 suspects were investigated. Eight people were injured because of antisemitic offenses in 2016.

According to federal statistics, 92.8% of criminal acts had a right-wing extremist background. However, critics say the federal government’s classification system is inaccurate.

Benjamin Steinitz, the head of the RIAS group in Berlin that tracks antisemitism, told Die Welt paper on Friday there is a “discrepancy between the perception of antisemitic attacks, insults, taunts and police statistics.” According to a 2017 federal government report on antisemitism, the crime of Jew-hatred is designated by the category of “politically motivated right-wing extremist crime.” A telling example, cited in Die Welt, was an outbreak of Islamic-animated antisemitism that was registered as right-wing extremism.

Supporters of the US and EU classified terrorist organization Hezbollah participated in an anti-Israeli march during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The Hezbollah supporters formed a 20-person group and yelled the pro-Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” at a group of pro-Israel activists in Berlin. The “Sieg Heil” call violates Germany’s anti-hate law and was registered as a far-right extremist crime.

There are 250 active Hezbollah supporters and members in Berlin. Germany’s interior ministry declined to outlaw all of Hezbollah in Germany. There are 950 Hezbollah operatives spread across the federal republic.

According to the Die Welt report, “The Islamic part of antisemitic offenses in police statistics is clearly underrated.” Beck, who heads the German-Israel parliamentary caucus group, cited the high levels of antisemitism in Germany, including that 40% of Germany’s population of 82 million are infected with contemporary antisemitism – hatred of the Jewish state–according to the federal report.
“We must fight all forms of anti-Semitism,” said Beck. He called on the federal government to appoint a commissioner for antisemitism, as well as for civic society to initiate “educational programs against modern forms of antisemitism, conspiracy theories and anti-Zionism.”
Charlotte Knobloch, the head of Munich’s Jewish community, said in a Friday statement: “The Muslim associations have for decades not only done nothing [to combat antisemitism] ,rather they have allowed that anti-Semitic hate-preachers from Muslim countries to bring their anti-Jewish ideology into German mosques and into the heads of young Muslims.”

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The Communist Origins of the Antifa Extremist Group

 

The extremist anarchist-communist group Antifa has been in the headlines because of recent violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. Yet while the organization has been applauded by some left-leaning news outlets for including white nationalists and neo-Nazis in its list of targets, the organization wasn’t always about targeting “fascism,” as it claims.

The organization was initially part of the Soviet Union’s front operations to bring about communist dictatorship in Germany, and it worked to label all rival parties as “fascist.”

The organization can be traced to the “united front” of the Soviet Union’s Communist International (Comintern) during the Third World Congress in Moscow in June and July 1921, according to the German booklet “80 Years of Anti-Fascist Action” by Bernd Langer, published by the Association for the Promotion of Anti-Fascist Culture. Langer is a former member of the Autonome Antifa, formerly one of Germany’s largest Antifa organizations, which disbanded in 2004.

The Soviet Union was among the world’s most violent dictatorships, killing an estimated 20 million people, according to “The Black Book of Communism,” published by Harvard University Press. The Soviet regime is second only to the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, which killed an estimated 65 million people.

The idea of the united front strategy was to bring together left-wing organizations in order to incite communist revolution. The Soviets believed that following Russia’s revolution in 1917, communism would next spread to Germany, since Germany had the second-largest communist party, the KPD (Communist Party of Germany).

It was at the Fourth World Congress of the Comintern in 1922 that the plan took shape. Moscow formed the slogan “To the Masses” for its united front strategy and sought to join together the various communist and workers’ parties of Germany under a single ideological banner that it controlled.

“The ‘unified front’ thus did not mean an equal cooperation between different organizations, but the dominance of the workers’ movement by the communists,” Langer writes.

Benito Mussolini, a Marxist and socialist who had been expelled from Italy’s Socialist Party in 1914 for his support for World War I, later founded the fascist movement as his own political party. He took power through his “March on Rome” in October 1922.

In Germany, Adolf Hitler became head of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party) in 1921 and mounted a coup attempt in 1923.

The KPD decided to use the banner of anti-fascism to form a movement. Langer notes, though, that to the KPD, the ideas of “fascism” and “anti-fascism” were “undifferentiated,” and the term “fascism” served merely as rhetoric meant to support their aggressive opposition.

Both the communist and fascist systems were based in collectivism and state-planned economies. Both also proposed systems wherein the individual was heavily controlled by a powerful state, and both were responsible for large-scale atrocities and genocide.

The 2016 annual report by Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), notes the same point: From the viewpoint of the “left-wing extremist,” the label of “fascism” as pushed by Antifa often does not refer to actual fascism, but is merely a label assigned to “capitalism.”

While leftist extremists claim to be fighting “fascism” while launching their attacks on other groups, the report states the term “fascism” has a double meaning under the extreme-left ideology, indicating the “fight against the capitalist system.”

This held true from the beginning, according to Langer. For the communists in Germany, “anti-fascism” merely meant “anti-capitalism.” He notes the labels merely served as “battle concepts” under a “political vocabulary.”

description of Antifa on the BfV website notes that the organization still holds this same basic definition of capitalism as being “fascism.”

“They argue that the capitalist state produces fascism, or at least tolerates it. Therefore, anti-fascism is directed not only against actual or supposed right-wing extremists, but also always against the state and its representatives, in particular members of the security authorities,” it states.

Langer notes that historically, by labeling the anti-capitalist interests of the communist movement as “anti-fascism,” the KPD was able to use this rhetoric to label all other political parties as fascist. Langer states, “According to this, the other parties opposed to the KPD were fascist, especially the SPD [Social Democratic Party of Germany].”

Thus, in what would today be considered ironic, the group that the communist “anti-fascists” most heavily targeted under their new label of “fascism” was the social democrats.

On Aug. 23, 1923, the Politburo of the Communist Party of Russia held a secret meeting, and according to Langer, “all the important officials spoke out for an armed insurrection in Germany.”

The KPD was at the front of this call, launching a movement under the banner of United Front Action and branding its armed “anti-fascist” wing under the name Antifaschistische Aktion (“Antifascist Action”), which Antifa still carries in Germany, and from which the Antifa organizations in other countries are rooted.

At this time, Hitler and his Nazi Party had begun to emerge on the world stage, and the Nazi Party employed a similar group to Antifaschistische Aktion for political violence and intimidation, called the “brownshirts.”

Antifaschistische Aktion, meanwhile, began to attract some members who opposed the arrival of actual fascism in Germany and who did not subscribe to—or were potentially unaware of—the organization’s ties to the Soviet Union.

However, the violence instigated by Antifaschistische Aktion largely had an opposite effect. The ongoing tactics of violence and intimidation of all rival systems under the Antifa movement, along with its violent ideology, drove many people toward fascism.

“The Communists’ violent revolutionary rhetoric, promising the destruction of capitalism and the creation of a Soviet Germany, terrified the country’s middle class, who knew only too well what had happened to their counterparts in Russia after 1918,” writes Richard J. Evans in “The Third Reich in Power.”

“Appalled at the failure of the government to solve the crisis, and frightened into desperation by the rise of the Communists,” he states, “they began to leave the squabbling little factions of the conventional political right and gravitate towards the Nazis instead.”

Langer notes that from the beginning, the KPD was a member of the Comintern, and “within a few years, it became a Stalinist party,” both ideologically and logistically. He states that it even became “financially dependent on the Moscow headquarters.”

Leaders of the KPD, with Antifa as their on-the-ground movement for violence and intimidation of rival political parties, fell under the command of the Soviet apparatus. Many KPD leaders would later become leaders in the communist German Democratic Republic, including of its infamous Ministry for State Security, the Stasi.

As Langer states, “anti-fascism is a strategy rather than an ideology.”

“It was brought into play in Germany in the 1920s by the KPD”, not as a legitimate movement against the fascism that would later arise in Germany, but instead “as an anti-capitalist concept of struggle,” he writes.

Russia Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses, Calling It an Extremist Group

MOSCOW — Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that rejects violence, an extremist organization, banning the group from operating on Russian territory and putting its more than 170,000 Russian worshipers in the same category as Islamic State militants.

The ruling, which confirmed an order last month by the Justice Ministry that the denomination be “liquidated” — essentially eliminated or disbanded — had been widely expected. Russian courts rarely challenge government decisions, no matter what the evidence.

Viktor Zhenkov, a lawyer for the denomination, said Jehovah’s Witnesses would appeal the ruling. He said it had focused on the activities of the organization’s so-called administrative center, a complex of offices outside St. Petersburg, but also branded all of its nearly 400 regional branches as extremist.

“We consider this decision an act of political repression that is impermissible in contemporary Russia,” Mr. Zhenkov said in a telephone interview. “We will, of course, appeal.”

An initial appeal will be made to the Supreme Court’s appellate division, Mr. Zhenkov said, and if that fails, Jehovah’s Witnesses will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France.

Hard-line followers of Russia’s dominant faith, the Orthodox Church, have lobbied for years to have Jehovah’s Witnesses outlawed or at least curbed as a heretical sect, but the main impetus for the current campaign to crush a Christian group active in Russia for more than a century seems to have come from the country’s increasingly assertive security apparatus.

Founded in the United States in the 19th century, Jehovah’s Witnesses has its worldwide headquarters in the United States and, along with all foreign-led groups outside the control of the state, is viewed with deep suspicion by Russia’s post-Soviet version of the KGB: the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B.

Summing up the Justice Ministry’s case against the denomination, the ministry’s representative, Svetlana Borisova, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Jehovah’s Witnesses had shown “signs of extremist activity that represent a threat to the rights of citizens, social order and the security of society.”

During six days of hearings over two weeks, lawyers and witnesses for the religious group repeatedly dismissed the extremist allegation as absurd, arguing that reading the Bible and promoting its nonviolent message could in no way be construed as extremist.

Human Rights Watch, in a statement issued in Moscow, condemned the court ruling as “a serious breach of Russia’s obligations to respect and protect religious freedom.”

Rachel Denber, the human rights group’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, said the decision delivered “a terrible blow to freedom of religion and association in Russia.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses shuns political activity and has no record of even peaceful — never mind violent — hostility to the Russian authorities. But it has faced growing hostility from the state since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia began his third term in 2012 and put the Orthodox Church at the center of his push to assert Russia as a great military and moral power.

The denomination suffered relentless persecution by the KGB during the Soviet era, and after more than a decade of relative peace following the collapse of Communism in 1991, it again became a target for official harassment under a 2002 anti-extremism law. That law makes it illegal for any group, other than the Orthodox Church and other traditional religious institutions, to proclaim itself as offering a true path to religious or political salvation.