Israel Faces Extremists, U.S. Ignores Them

Sikh Rampage and Jerusalem 'Lynching' Both Fueled by Racism

Cracking Down: Israeli soldier confronts a young settler trying to attack Palestinian farmers on the West Bank.
getty images
Cracking Down: Israeli soldier confronts a young settler trying to attack Palestinian farmers on the West Bank.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published August 24, 2012, issue of August 31, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Hundreds more Palestinian attacks have been thwarted by Israeli and Palestinian Authority security personnel. Interestingly, settler attacks have risen, from 168 in 2009 to 411 in 2011, while Israeli deaths from Palestinian attacks have declined steadily from 451 in 2002 to 48 in 2008 and two so far this year. The fewer the attacks, it seems, the stronger the reaction. Still, Israel’s current soul-searching is a watershed.

The Wisconsin attack, by contrast, produced no such soul-searching. It elicited grief, sympathy, breast-beating over gun-violence and calls for stricter gun laws — but virtually no discussion of the right-wing extremism that plainly gave rise to the attack. The gunman, Wade Michael Page, was a member of a neo-Nazi rock band. His extremist views had previously drawn the attention of authorities. The attack was shocking but not surprising.

The August 5 attack was the latest and most violent in a series of attacks on Sikhs mistaken for Muslims across the country in recent years. It came in the midst of a two-week wave of attacks against mosques in August that began when a mosque was burned to the ground in Joplin, Mo., and included incidents in Oklahoma, Florida, and Illinois. But there have been no high-level calls, presidential or otherwise, for a national soul-searching. Some Muslim organizations condemned the attacks. The Anti-Defamation League expressed “horror” and called for a federal investigation. That’s about it.

A more telling response came three days after the Wisconsin attack and 70 miles south, when Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois addressed an August 8 town hall and railed against the “radical Muslims” who he said are “trying to kill Americans every week.” The Illinois attacks against the mosques occurred on August 10, 12 and 16, all in Walsh’s district.

Walsh had it backwards. According to an ADL report published in August 2011, and recently reposted on the league’s website, deaths in right-wing terrorist attacks in America since September 2001 have outnumbered deaths from Muslim terrorism by more than 10 to 1. Of 201 people killed in domestic terrorist attacks, the league reported, only 14 were killed by Muslim terrorists — all but one of them in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre. Fully 85% were killed by white supremacists. The rest were killed by anti-government and anti-tax extremists. (A more recent study has shown 33 deaths in Muslim attacks, still a fraction of the rightest toll).

Despite the numbers, federal law enforcement invests far greater resources in tracking Muslim terrorism than the nativist kind. Until 2009, the intelligence division of the Department of Homeland Security had 25 investigators assigned to Muslim terrorism and six on the domestic right-wing beat. That changed in April 2009, when the domestic unit produced a report citing a sharp uptick in violent right-wing plots in the wake of President Obama’s election. The report prompted a furor among congressional Republicans, who accused the department of demonizing conservatives and forced Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano to dissolve the domestic unit. Today just one agent is assigned to domestic non-Islamic terrorism, according to former unit chief Daryl Johnson.

Congressional Republicans are still fuming over the report. Napolitano appeared before the House homeland security committee in late July and was raked over the coals by Republicans, including Walsh of Illinois, for focusing on conservative, Christian and pro-life activists and ignoring the Muslim terrorist threat.

You can’t really blame the Republicans for getting upset. As I reported recently, one Republican on the committee, Paul Broun of Georgia, sounded almost plaintive when he complained to Napolitano that when agents detail the profile of the domestic terrorist — gun-owner, Christian-conservative, pro-life — “you’re talking about me.”

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.