Israel checks out website run by Russian racists

The Guardian (England), June 25, 2003
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem

The Israeli attorney general has launched a criminal investigation into a local neo-Nazi website that jokes about gas chambers, advocates shooting Palestinians and denies that the Holocaust happened.

The website, published in Russian by a group calling itself the White Israeli Union is believed to be the work of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who claimed to be Jews when they entered Israel but who are blamed for the sharp rise in anti-semitism and advocacy of white supremacy.

Among other things, the site encourages readers to join an Israeli army combat unit to kill Arabs. Its pictures include one of a man in Israeli military uniform with his arm raised in the Hitler salute.

The website says it is run by “Ilya from Haifa and Andrei from Arad”, who describe themselves as “people who have pride in themselves and are sick of living among the dirty bastards”.

They have drawn up a list of “enemies” collectively derided as “black arses”. They include Jews, Arabs, foreign workers and, tellingly, immigrants from Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.

About a million Russians and others from former Soviet states have emigrated to Israel over the past 10 years. It is an open secret that many have only distant ties to Judaism and some bought forged birth certificates with Jewish names to escape the collapsing Soviet Union. The Israeli government, desperate for new immigrants to counter the burgeoning Palestinian population, turned a blind eye.

But the recent immigration has also brought a novel form of anti-semitism with the appearance of graffiti in public places such as: “The end of the Jews is near.” Swastikas have been painted on walls in Russian-speaking neighbourhoods of Jerusalem and other Israeli towns.

One Russian immigrant, Rabbi Zalman Gilichinsky, was so disturbed after spotting young skinheads sporting swastikas, that he launched a campaign for action by the government which he says “campaigns against anti-semitism in Ukraine, Zimbabwe and the Bahamas, but ignores it at home”.

He said: “In every city in Israel they have these anti-semitic groups. They’re mostly young kids. I blame the government because they encouraged immigration by families who have no feeling toward Judaism or Israel.

“Many new immigrants to Israel have found to their horror that they encounter anti-semitic harassment and humiliation from non-Jews who arrived from the former USSR. They had hoped to escape anti-semitism, or at least to be protected from it, when they came to Israel.”

Among the White Israeli Union website’s most controversial claims is that Hitler’s Nuremberg laws were merely based on Jewish religious law in defining race.

Crude “humour” on the website includes jokes about the extermination camps of the Nazis and a list of “rules of behaviour” which warns all readers not to be miserly “because a miser is a Zhid”. Zhid is a derogatory Russian word for Jew.

The attorney general’s office said that the website was being investigated for racism, for incitement to violence and for Holocaust denial.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday June 26, 2003.
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