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Press ReleaseAnti-Semitism-USA

New York, NY, December 19, 1996...The growing exploitation by bigots of the World Wide Web and the Internet, the prevalence of anti-Semitism, extremism, and racism in our society, and the outbreak of Palestinian violence against Israel dominated the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) annual list of Top Ten stories in 1996 affecting the American Jewish community.

As the Internet grows, notorious extremists are experimenting to find the most effective way to exploit its potential for propaganda distribution while lesser-known haters, attracted by the low cost and the relative ease of Internet publishing, are increasingly cranking out their messages of hate.

"Along with the advantages of technology bringing the world to our fingertips comes the invasion of hate into our homes, schools and offices when we least expect it," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "More than fifty years after the horror of the Holocaust and strides made in Civil Rights, we are confronted on our computer screens by age-old anti-Semitism and racism repackaged to entice and incite some to act out their animosity," said Mr. Foxman. "We have seen cyberhate's tactile twin in the form of arson attacks on houses of worship, swastikas on homes, and discrimination in the offices of corporate America, as evidenced by recent revelations at Texaco."

Events in Israel topping the ADL list include the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a rash of terrorist attacks in Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombers, and the Palestinian uprising linked to the opening of an exit to the ancient Western Wall Tunnel.

"We were pained by the devastating loss of 59 innocent lives in one week of relentless attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers," said Mr. Foxman. "As we mourned beside the families of two American students, the barbarity of terrorism hit home. Despite the heavy impact the tragic spate of bombings had on the Israeli psyche, Israeli democracy prevailed, demonstrated by the first direct elections for Prime Minister."

The Complete ADL list of the Top Ten Stories includes:

_The Internet and the World Wide Web were increasingly exploited by neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, racists, and Holocaust-deniers, and the technology became a more significant part of their propaganda arsenals. Bigots have disseminated their hate messages to a much wider audience than ever before, an audience heretofore not readily accessible to them. Extremists have linked their web sites to one another, widening the distribution of hate propaganda used in many cases as a recruitment tool for groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Web graphics allow the display of anti-Semitic and racist cartoons, swastikas, Nazi battle symbols, pictures of Hitler and Nazi Storm Troopers, and photos of cross burnings. Extremist groups also have placed their radio programs on the Web.

_Anti-Semitism, extremism and racism continued to percolate in society. 1996 saw incidents which included the rash of church arsons at predominantly black houses of worship; swastikas on homes in the upscale New York town of Mamaroneck, on the streets of Washington, D.C., and in U.S. Army barracks; revelations in the media of race and religious-based discrimination at Texaco, and the inappropriate use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery and expression of classic anti-Semitic canards by celebrities such as Marge Schott, Ted Turner and Marlon Brando.

_Islamic terrorists targeted Israel and U.S. installations abroad. In one week, a wave of suicide bombings in Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists killed a total of 59 people, including two Americans, and injured more than 220. An Israeli group was the intended target of a terrorist attack in Egypt that resulted in the death of 18 Greek tourists. An Israeli couple was killed when terrorists riddled their car with bullets. A truck bomb explosion at an American military base in Dharhran, Saudi Arabia, killed 19 American soldiers and wounded hundreds of others.

_Netanyahu won first direct election for Prime Minister. In an important affirmation of Israeli democracy, Israelis elected Benjamin Netanyahu, who campaigned on a platform of "peace with security," in the first direct elections for the country's highest ranking office. In his pursuit of peace as Prime Minister, he has met with Chairman Arafat and other Arab leaders.

_Palestinian protests turned violent; Palestinian police fired on Israelis. In September, violent confrontations in Israel resulted in more than 75 deaths, including 15 Israeli soldiers, and the wounding of hundreds. The ostensible impetus for the violence was the opening of an exit from the Western Wall Tunnel. Palestinian leaders, including Yasir Arafat, raised spurious accusations that the tunnel threatened the Al Aksa Mosque and other existing Palestinian structures in the area. Palestinians rioted in the streets and some Palestinian policemen engaged in deadly gunfights with Israeli soldiers using weapons provided to them by Israel to maintain the peace.

_The Southern Baptist Convention voted to target Jews for conversion. Southern Baptists passed a resolution calling on members to direct their "energies and resources toward the proclamation of the Gospel to the Jews." A broad range of Jewish and Christian groups and leaders condemned the Southern Baptist Convention's focus on Jews for evangelism. ADL called the initiative "an insult to the Jewish people and a setback for the cause of interfaith dialogue and understanding," and said it "encourages fanaticism and defiles the spirit of religious pluralism."

_Domestic terrorism was thwarted by arrests and convictions. For allegedly conspiring to build pipe bombs for a war against the U.S. government and to blow up various sites including Federal buildings, Federal agents arrested three members of the Militia-at-Large for the Republic of Georgia, 12 members of the Arizona-based Viper Militia, and seven members of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia, while the leader and two members of the Oklahoma Constitutional Militia were convicted by a Federal jury. Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was convicted of masterminding the New York City terrorist plot and sentenced to life in jail. Ramzi Ahmad Yusuf was convicted for conspiring to blow up American jetliners in Asia and also accused of collaboration in the New York City terrorist plot. The U.S. Government continued its fight against world terrorism through legislation and other initiatives.

_Louis Farrakhan continued spewing anti-Semitism, racism and anti-Americanism. On a "World Friendship Tour" to Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Sudan, countries identified by the U.S. Government as terrorism sponsors, Farrakhan called the U.S. government "the Great Satan." He sought to accept a $1 billion gift from Libyan tyrant Muammar Gadhafi to the Nation of Islam but was prohibited by the U.S. government. On October 16, to commemorate the first year anniversary of the Million Man March, Minister Farrakhan held a "World Day of Atonement" rally on the doorstep of the U.N., during which, despite the theme, there was no atonement. In a rambling, nearly three hour speech, filled with anti-American rhetoric, Farrakhan implied that Jews control American foreign policy. Anti-Semitic materials such as the infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and Henry Ford's International Jew, were available at the event.

_Predominantly Black churches were burned by a rash of arson fires. The passage of the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996 by Congress, and signing of it into law by President Clinton, was in response to the burnings of predominantly Black churches. ADL, in coalition with the National Urban League, established the "Rebuild the Churches Fund" through a nationwide advertising campaign and distributed more than $325,000 to the burned churches which came from the overwhelming response of the American people.

_Anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism surfaced in a number of countries around the world. Hate crimes against Jews increased in Argentina with the desecration of over 156 graves and tombstones in Jewish cemeteries, anti-Semitic threats aimed at a Jewish hospital, and the arrests of four suspects for planning to blow up a Jewish center. Argentina's Justice Minister, Rodolfo Barra, who oversaw the investigations of the unsolved 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing and the 1994 AMIA Jewish community headquarters bombing, resigned after revelations of a past affiliation with a violent anti-Semitic organization. Three senior Argentine police officers and a retired officer were indicted as accomplices in the bombings. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party received nearly 30 percent of the vote in the country's election for representatives to the European Parliament and did nearly as well in Vienna's municipal elections. In France, the far-right National Party received 45 percent of the vote in a by-election in southern France. In Italy, the National Alliance led more than 150,000 Italians through the streets in a march of unity and won 15.7 percent of the votes in the general election to become Italy's third biggest party.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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1996 Anti-Defamation League