White nationalist leader Richard Spencer is speaking out against Jewish activists who have campaigned against his so-called “alt-right” movement in Whitefish, Montana, singling out rabbis and their non-Jewish political allies by using a reference to the Holocaust.
“The chief leaders in this case against me were not only not only Jews, in many cases, but literally rabbis,” Spencer said in an interview conducted by former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke. “I would say, their actions against me and my family would not work if it weren’t for a bunch of righteous gentiles who follow their lead.”
“Righteous gentiles” is a phrase used for those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The Duke interview with Spencer, released on December 26, comes amidst an online neo-Nazi campaign against Jews in Spencer’s hometown of Whitefish, a small ski resort town.
Local Jews are now being flooded with threatening messages online, activists say. The mood is so uneasy that police have ramped up patrols and the FBI is getting involved.
Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer website, who is leading the charge against area Jews, has threatened to organize an armed march in Whitefish — but has not yet set a date. Anglin does not have a visible base of support in Whitefish and it is still unclear if he could mobilize such a march.
The campaign against area Jews is happening in response to local activism against white nationalism and Spencer in particular.
A local human rights group named Love Lives Here has spoken out against white nationalism for years, particularly as Spencer’s star has risen. The group sought to combat their town’s association with Spencer and his movement. Amidst that communtiy work, local realtor Tanya Gersh pressured Spencer’s mother, Sherry Spencer, to sell a building she owns downtown and denounce the white nationalism of her son.
Anglin is asking for Love Lives Here to repudiate Gersh and for Gersh to publicly apologize to Sherry Spencer.
Gersh and representatives of Love Lives Here did not respond to requests for comment from the Forward.
“All we are asking for is an end to the harassment of Mrs. Spencer and a public apology from Gersh,” Anglin wrote.
Anglin, who the Southern Poverty Law Center has written is “infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking,” has mounted numerous online campaigns in recent years, including “Operation: Jew Wife,” against Infowars host Alex Jones because his wife is Jewish, and “Operation: Filthy Jew B—ch,” which targeted Labour Party member of Parliament Luciana Berger, who is Jewish.
Among the many readers of Anglin’s website may have been Dylann Roof, the man who carried out a massacre of nine black people at Charleston, South Carolina’s Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church in 2015.
As Anglin was talking up his plans for an armed march in Whitefish, he said he said he wanted to be sure to “weed-out any potential nutjobs,” from participating. He said only “extremely professional” skinhead groups would be allowed.
Anglin’s support of Spencer comes as the “alt-right” is the subject of increased attention in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. The “alt-right” celebrated Trump as their own candidate and someone who would usher in a new era of “white identity politics.” Spencer announced his own political ambitions, suggested he might like to run for Congress in Montana.
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Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.
‘Alt-Right’ Leader Richard Spencer Slams Rabbis and ‘Righteous Gentiles’ as Neo-Nazis Plan Montana March