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NEO-NAZIS RECRUIT KIDS FOR RISING HARASSMENT.

Byline: Troy Anderson Staff Writer

Anti-Semitic incidents in California and the U.S. have reached their highest level in nine years, and experts blamed the rise on the spread of neo-Nazi propaganda, according to a report released Monday.

Fueled by a spike in reports of anti-Jewish harassment in schools, the number of incidents increased 17 percent nationwide and 30 percent in California, according to the Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. Nationwide, the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose from 1,557 in 2003 to 1,821 in 2004. In California, the number jumped from 180 to 237.

``The kind of rhetoric you would normally reserve for extremists, neo- Nazis and hate groups is starting to become more commonplace on the playgrounds, in the classrooms, in the workplace and among neighbors,'' said Amanda Susskind, the ADL's director for the Pacific Southwest Region.

``I think it's a combination of distance from the Holocaust and disconnection with the historical suffering of the Jewish people. So there is a disassociation with what it means to say an anti-Semitic thing, and maybe not as many people react to it as they would have a generation ago.''

The incidents include subjecting Jewish teachers to anti-Semitic epithets in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, and leafleting by white-supremacist groups in Simi Valley, Ventura and the San Fernando Valley, the group said.

The group also noted with alarm that many U.S. young people dressed as Adolf Hitler or other Nazis last Halloween. Among them was a student at a public high school in Camarillo who was allowed to remain in class all day in a Hitler costume.

``The student dressed in a Hitler costume all day was never reported to administration,'' said Sylvia Jackson, principal at Adolfo Camarillo High School. ``When a parent later reported it to the ADL and I investigated with my staff, no one (in administration) knew about the incident.''

In the eight states with the highest overall reports of anti-Semitic acts last year, 13 percent occurred at schools.

``We've started seeing more swastikas doodled in textbooks, or kids calling other kids ugly names,'' Susskind said. ``We have a big round of hate mail going around now, saying, 'Die Jew, die' - that sort of stuff.''

Although figures were not available for Los Angeles County, the greater Los Angeles area is home to the nation's second-largest population of Jews, who number more than 520,000. About 250,000 Jews live in the San Fernando, Simi, Conejo, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

California echoed the national trend in anti-Jewish harassment. The state had the third-highest number of incidents, and a significant portion of them occurred in schools.

Robin Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, said he has seen an uptick in anti-Semitic activities by neo-Nazi and white-supremacist groups targeting school-age youths in the county.

``One of the things we ran into in the Santa Clarita area was that a significant number of youths were sporting skateboard wear that uses the Iron Cross and double lightning bolts - symbols of the special police of the Nazi era.

``That is part of this culture where they actually have neo-Nazi symbols integrated into skateboard wear and gear. In one case, we heard of a (Valley) high school that decided to ban all those items that relate to the Iron Cross because of the fact it was a symbol of anti-Jewish hatred and there had been incidents on the campus.''

The report noted a heightened level of distribution of extremist fliers and other racist literature by the neo-Nazi National Alliance, various Ku Klux Klan factions, White Revolution, White Aryan Resistance and David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

``The extremists are actively infiltrating high schools and schoolyards, and that becomes the sort of lingo kids use,'' Susskind said.

The Internet continues to play a substantial role in the dissemination of anti-Semitism, with hate literature being transmitted through hundreds of sites on the Web and through bulletin boards, chat rooms and e-mail messages.

``We've seen a rise of hate sites on the Internet, but a perfect example of the infection of the mainstream from extremist ideology is in the music world,'' Susskind said. ``We have seen records, DVDs, CDs and concerts put on that promote hate - and anti-Semitism in general - that have mass appeal.''

A spokesman for one of the companies, Panzerfaust Records, bragged recently that the hate music label was halfway to its goal of distributing 100,000 CDs of racist and anti-Semitic music to schoolchildren across the country as part of Project Schoolyard USA, according to the ADL.

In response, Sheriff Lee Baca said he plans to seek state legislation that would require people convicted of hate crimes to become registered, as sex offenders are now.

``These Nazi white-supremacist groups are classic examples of people who slide underneath the First Amendment and at the same time commit these hate-crime acts,'' Baca said. ``I think they need to be looked after and monitored for quite a long period of time.''

Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985

troy.anderson(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

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NATIONWIDE ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS

SOURCE: Anti-Defamation League

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Apr 5, 2005
Words:857
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