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Duke, in Prison, Appeals for Cash

David Duke has initiated yet another fundraising drive — from prison.

The former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi sympathizer, who is serving a 15-month sentence in the Big Spring federal prison in Texas, is asking for contributions to promote his latest book, an attack on Jews and Israel titled “Jewish Supremacism.”

“Every day, thousands of people are awakening to the mortal threat of Jewish supremacism,” the 52-year-old Duke wrote in the appeal for contributions that appeared on his Web site earlier in the week. “The treachery and subversion committed by Israel against the United States and the Israeli-orchestrated war in Iraq have made millions [of] people finally wake up to the truth.”

Duke began his prison sentence in April, several months after returning to the United States from Russia — where he had spent the previous two years beyond the reach of prosecutors — to plead guilty to charges of mail fraud and filing a false tax return. The charges stemmed from an earlier fundraising scheme in which Duke bilked supporters of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Duke “sent out a mailing saying he was in dire financial straits, that he was about to lose his house,” said Jim Letten, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “He was going to casinos [with the money he raised]. He wasn’t in difficult financial straits at all.”

According to Mark Potok, who tracks extremist groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Duke’s new screed against Israel is a recycled version of a text he published in Russia and his chapter on Jews in his autobiography “My Awakening.”

“He’s already published this thing in Russia,” Potok said. “It’s basically a rehash of one of the chapters, or a few of the chapters…. It’s not some great new literary endeavor.”

On his Web site, and in the preface of his book posted on the site, Duke accuses Jews of “unrelenting ethnic war against Gentiles.” The preface is brimming with conspiracy theory notions about Israel’s involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks, its role in America’s war with Iraq and Jewish control over the government.

None of the organizations that monitor hate groups contacted by the Forward have any solid figures on how much money Duke has raised, but most doubt that the figure is very high.

Prior to his guilty plea, Duke had raised a considerable amount of money. “People still give him money,” said Mordechai Levy, head of the militant Jewish Defense Organization, a longtime Duke-watcher. “But on the other hand, some of [his supporters] were people he ripped off from what he did in that casino. He lost some supporters. Not all.”

“I think it’s quite amusing,” Potok said. “If anyone is foolish enough to send Duke money, then they deserved to get ripped off. He’s in federal prison for ripping off his followers with his race theories…. It would be incredible if he got 10 cents.”

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