WEEKEND EDITION

Op-Ed: My Neighborhood White Supremacist & the Kosher Response to Hate

| January 26, 2012 4:00 AM

Early in the morning on Nov. 10, 2011, three cars along Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn were found ablaze with anti-Semitic slurs scrawled on them. Police now believe that the incident was an insurance scam rather than a real hate crime. VINNews.com/Shimon Gifter

On Jan. 24, police arrested 19-year-old Anthony Graziano in connection with the recent firebombings of two New Jersey synagogues and a rabbi’s home. It’s the latest development in a busy season of anti-Semitic attacks that began in early November 2011, when a 40-year-old Jackson Heights man allegedly spray painted swastikas on several buildings in Queens. A few days later, someone added an “ew” on a sign at the Avenue J subway station so that the sign then read, “Avenue Jew.” On Nov. 21, a Jewish man was stabbed on a subway platform as his assailants allegedly yelled anti-Semitic slurs at him.

Among these very real acts of hatred in the New York area, Jews have been targeted in several allegedly “fake” incidents of hatred. The NYPD recently announced that the November firebombing of three cars in Midwood, Brooklyn, may have been an insurance scam rather than a genuine hate attack. And David Haddad, whom police suspect may be responsible for a more recent spate of anti-Semitic graffiti, is Jewish. Police think he may have used the guise of anti-Semitism to settle personal vendettas.

Several days after the Midwood car fires, an "ew" appeared on a sign at the Avenue J subway station sign so that it read "Avenue Jew." Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

These incidents are horrible, regardless of what motivates them, but they are manifestations of attitudes that are unfortunately all too prevalent even in the New York metro area, where an estimated 12 percent of individuals self-identify as Jewish, versus about 2 percent nationally, according to the most recent regional Jewish Community Study and data from the North American Jewish Data Bank.

After an encounter with a white supremacist in my own neighborhood, I’ve realized just how commonplace intolerance can be in our daily life.

“Excuse me, but I think your shirt is racist,” I said to the stock clerk working the night shift at the Super Stop & Shop in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, as he placed items on the shelves.

As someone who prefers gentleness to confrontation, I’m still not sure what I was thinking when I decided to tell him that I found his “White Pride Worldwide” T-shirt objectionable. But there I was, steeped in righteous indignation.

A demonstrator representing a white nationalist group in Canada carries a flag depicting a Celtic cross surrounded by the phrase "White Pride Worldwide." It's the same logo that appeared on the stock clerk's shirt and was popularized by Stormfront, a white nationalist website. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League classify Stormfront as a hate group. Flickr/Thivierr

He had bags under his eyes, a tattoo of a what appeared to be a naked woman on his forearm and an unkempt mop of gray hair.

He sized me up. “Do you shop here in February?” he asked. ”What’s the difference between me wearing this shirt and this store handing out pamphlets during Black History Month in February?”

“The symbol on your shirt is a symbol of hate, that’s the difference. That cross is on the flag of the Ku Klux Klan,” I said.

    I wouldn’t find out until I looked it up later, but the Celtic cross with the slogan “White Pride Worldwide” is actually the symbol of Stormfront, a white nationalist website founded by a former Klansman. Stormfront is classified as a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

    “What do you know about the Ku Klux Klan? You need to read a history book about this country after the Civil War. This conversation is over, I’m not interested,” he said, before walking away. Not exactly a victory for open-mindedness near the deli counter.

      What really shocked me was that the diverse group of other supermarket employees didn’t seem to see anything wrong with an employee wearing a shirt bearing a white supremacist slogan. His manager, a Latino man, told me that when the stock clerk plays military parade songs on a portable radio in his aisle, they mock him by goosestepping to the music.

      It turns out that the man allegedly running the neo-Nazi cell was the stock clerk from my supermarket.

      The next day, I called the store’s manager, and identified myself as a neighborhood customer and described the stock clerk’s T-shirt. The manager said he was surprised to learn about his employee’s attire. I inquired about Super Stop & Shop’s employee dress code. If cashiers and deli counter attendants are required to wear uniforms, I asked, why shouldn’t that policy be extended to stock clerks, especially when their attire might offend customers? He apologized and asked me not to contact the regional manager until he spoke with the employee in question. He called me back as promised later to let me know that the stock clerk would not be allowed to wear offensive clothing in the future.

      After a request for comment from MetroFocus, Stop & Shop corporate spokesperson Arlene Putterman wrote in an email, “…this issue took place months ago and there was a misinterpretation of the tshirt design.” She added that, “the person was instructed not to wear any logoed tshirt in the store in the future.”

      As the days wore on after the incident, I wondered, was I perhaps taking this T-shirt too seriously? Maybe sometimes a T-shirt is just a T-shirt?

      I got my answer on Nov. 20, 2011, about one week after the Midwood car fires. I found a flyer on my windshield advertising a protest against a neo-Nazi cell that was operating in south Brooklyn. Out of curiosity, I walked the 15 or so blocks from my apartment building to the address on the flyer in Gravesend, Brooklyn. When I arrived, about 30 protesters had already gathered. They were associated with the Jewish Defense Organization, a group that advocates militancy and arranges self-defense classes and gun training for Jewish people. Their logo is of the Star of David with an Uzi sub-machine gun emblazoned across it.

      The protesters were there to call for the eviction of a man suspected of running a neo-Nazi cell out of a basement apartment.

      It turns out that the man allegedly running the neo-Nazi cell was the stock clerk from my supermarket.

      Mordechai Levy, who organized the protest, told me he linked the stock clerk’s Gravesend address to posts on Stormfront’s online forums. (Later I  found a bit more information online about the stock clerk. In 2010, he described himself to a local newspaper as a “white nationalist” committed to preserving “the white race.”)

      About 30 protestors organized by the militiant Jewish Defense Organization rallied outside the home of a suspected neo-Nazi on Nov. 20, 2011. Organizer Mordechai Levy, left, said that Jews should keep guns at home for self-defense. MetroFocus/Daniel T. Allen

      At the protest, Levy shouted into a bullhorn, “One does not debate Nazis, one destroys Nazis,” and encouraged Jews to obtain legal guns for their homes. “Where do we send Nazis? To the cemetery!” he shouted.

      Other protesters at the rally told me that the way to respond to anti-Semitism is with street justice. Joel Mechila, 22, came from a nearby Jewish enclave in Borough Park to support the rally. He said he’s encountered anti-Semitism on the streets in other neighborhoods and that he also supports taking the law into his own hands. He invited me to view a YouTube video in which he shatters the passenger-side window of a car driven by two young women he said were shouting “heil Hitler!” at him in Williamsburg.

      But doesn’t calling for and responding to hatred with violence, even against white supremacists, perpetuate the cycle of hatred and violence? And, as the Midwood car burnings demonstrate, when there is even a possibility of “fake anti-Semitism,” do these types of reactions make sense?

      It seems to me that Jews should respond to hate by working on strengthening our own community, rather than engaging with the haters.

      Rather than lashing out at those who may be responsible for fomenting hatred, Jews should focus on celebrating and sharing our peoplehood. This sends a clear message to haters that we can be proud of our identity without discriminating or scapegoating others. In this way, we all become “brand ambassadors” — meeting violence with kindness and sharing the best our community has to offer rather than letting negative attention towards Jews dominate the headlines. This is the kosher response to hatred, and is the gold standard to which any community affected by bigotry must strive.

      Several months after my initial encounter, I was walking home late one night and I nearly bumped into the stock clerk on the street. There was a tense moment as we looked at each other, as if we might finish then and there the exchange we started near the butcher’s block. Would he pick a fight? No. I think we both decided to let it be. We walked on.

      What would be the point of provoking him further? He appeared closed to the idea that he could preserve his own identity in our pluralistic society without relying on symbols of hate. All I can do is live up to the ideals of my community and respect those of diverse backgrounds. And when I see those pamphlets being handed out at our supermarket during Black History Month, I’ll be sure to take one.

      MetroFocus’ Daniel T. Allen is an active congregant of the Chabad of Sheepshead Bay and studied anti-Semitism and civil rights policy at the Baruch School of Public Affairs.

      This story is part of a series related to tolerance, intolerance, discrimination, hate crimes and bullying in association with the Not In Our Town initiative and documentary.

        • S. Bradford

          Hi Dan,

          Just read your story! Dude that is horrible, but I have had my own encounters here in NYC. As a black person, in this country, people see the obvious (skin color) and some insistence are subtle, while others are not so subtle.

          I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and the KKK, up until 2007 (because of some BS 1st amendment rights argument) were allowed to parade thru-out our downtown area once a year around the holidays. You know what triggered that? The Jewish community (who are very important in the “Nati) wanted to include a Menorah on the public square. Not one soul objected! But noooo! The Klu Klux Klowns wanted to include “their” message. So begins the battle for almost 16 years! Court battles, protesting (proud to say while still living there, I had a few words with those ding-bats!) Finally, in the end – the city and humanity won!

          Today, I am so proud to announce that such stupidity is NO LONGER allowed! The Jewish community has been a very vital part of Cincinnati. The Jewish Hospital is a staple in the city of Cincinnati. And they continue to do outreach programs throughout the Greater Queen City area. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how the city would look without the dedicated and contributions of the Jewish community – seriously!

          Just to think, at one time Jewish, Blacks and Christians walked hand in hand to fight injustice. Where did that time go?

          • Steven Speers

            Do parrots like you never stop to wonder why the Jews in every community have to buy favor via “philanthropy”,or where the resources come from while the majority is wallowing in poverty?It is because these “womderful jewish members of the community” are bleeding everyone dry!!!Wake up.They have a name for you and me and every non-Semite in existence,it is Goyim.A derogatory racial slur applied to non-Semites.If you want to know what the Jew has planned for every nation on the planet,read Genesis chapter 47.They bankrupt nations.They will continue to crush non-Semites as long as you continue to deal with them on their terms(at all,really).But thank them for the donations they give that they took from you,Goyim.SMDH

            • Dmitriy

              Excuse me but “goyim” means nations
              that’s all the word means it’s not a slur

              • World_War_Me

                Goyim means “cattle”, buddy.

        • Min Lee-Schwartz

          Mr Allen – I enjoyed your article, but sadly I think that your “brand-ambassador” solution is not going to make any difference. ‘m all for Jews unifying peacefully, but when it comes to combating people who hold irrational hate, often fed by delusional conspiracy theories, rational opposition is not going to work. If Jews were being attacked and discriminated en masses, as blacks were (and still are) in this country, then a peaceful civil rights movement might be the answer… but we’re talking about “cells” of true nuts. I don’t think vigilantism is the answer either (though self-defense is always permissible in my view). I think proper law-enforcement channels and vocal protest are the best way to combat extremists.

        • AJ Weberman

          That was Alan Rouse you ran into. “Brand Ambassador” you are an idiot my friend if you think Nazis are going change their opinion about Jews because you are Mr. Nice Guy. The only thing the Nazi understand is strength. They have to be driven back into their holes or gotten rid of in their entirety. They want to kill you and your family, they are Amelick and we got to get them first. Wake up. I don’t believe Levy showed that clip. He never showed it to me and I talk to him 10 times a day.

          • Tremley

            WOW! I’m not a nazi, nor do I want to kill any jewish people. But I am proud of my race and culture! And I do wear my Celtic Cross White Pride tee shirt with pride. Are you saying you would try and kill me if you saw me wearing it?

            • HellooooooAntiWhites

              In his opinion, any White man that opposes the constructive genocide of White people, using massive non-White immigration and forced integration, against all White countries and only White countries, is a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

              Anti-Whites give White people two options:

              Accept White GeNOcide – or – you are a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews

              Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

        • jillz

          Thank you for speaking up, I admire your backbone. I am inspired by your action and by your editorial.

        • Patricia Weston

          Thank you for writing your thoughtful editorial piece. Growing up after WWII, I believed that the horrors of the holocaust would teach us all a valuable lesson about the inherent dangers of intolerance. Sadly, your account proves otherwise. I commend you for your courage and hope I will be able to follow your example in similar circumstances.

        • ira allen

          Dan,
          You should have pointed out to the stock clerk that your grandpa was from the south with ancestry dating to 1762.Your great, great grandfather was a Confederate Army veteran.You have “southern blood” in your veins through your grandpa who married a Jewish woman and considered a Jewish merchant in the deep south of 1920′s and 1930′s the best friend his poor share cropper dad ever had at a time the KKK was at its height of enrollment and activity.You should have asked the clerk,”Who you talking to?” when he mentioned the Civil War as you come from lineage in the Atlanta area that witnessed Sherman’s march of devastation first hand. Your kinfolk had nothing but fear and loathing of the KKK.Great piece.
          Love Dad.

        • Bill Smith

          Judaism is a hate group.

        • Clytemnestra

          Thank you, thank you, thank you for demonstrating how effective your “kosher response to hate” was in stopping that evil white supremacist grocery stocker from terrorizing non-white shoppers and coworkers by wearing a white pride worldwide tee shirt with a Celtic Cross on it. I’m so glad you put a stop to such shenanigans.

          I particularly enjoyed the part where you launched into your kosher response to that black panther calling for the necessity of killing white women and children, including babies. That was very brave of you and I love how you demonstrated your kosher response to that brown beret in the La Raza tee shirt.

          Count me as duly impressed, so feel free to break your hand patting yourself on the back, you bastion of racial justice and bravery, you!

          • Randall

            You people a maze me. You have more hate in your hearts than all of the white nationalists put together. You know nothing about white people.

          • World_War_Me

            Brilliantly put, Clyte

        • Steven Speers

          This article is dripping with hypocracy and I barely had the stomache to finish reading it. By your own admission you find whites expressing racial pride deplorable,but Semites engaging in harrassment and vandalism while promoting murder is seen as acceptable. You did not state in your article that you confronted Mordechai Levy or Joel Mechila on their blatant racism and bigotry nor their delight in violence.Is it because you support anti-white hate crimes,regardless of your platitudes?Actions speak louder than words,and your descriptions of your ACTIONS(or lack thereof) speaks infinitely louder than your trite hypocracy.If you truly opposed racism and bigotry in all its forms,then you would have called the Jews out for their hate-mongering,but instead focused on singling out one individual over a T-shirt that said white PRIDE.Nothing about white pride world wide states or infers hatred or violence towards other races.Black pride is great,brown pride is awesome,jewish pride is celebrated,but white pride is singled out and discriminated against.That makes you and all the parrots who agree with you not just racists but close-minded bigots and hypocrites.

        • Bill Smith

          Imagine if whites were to harass a jew for wearing a star of David and work and then demonstrate in front of the Jew’s house with a flag showing a swastika and an uzi talking about how the way to deal with jews is to throw them in ovens. But when jews do it, they aren’t a hate group?

        • Frank

          The Celtic Cross has been around thousands of years, the KKK about 150, Stormfront, a decade or so. Go to India and tell the Jains that their Swastika symbols that date back 3,000 years are racist. That will make as much sense as saying the Celtic Cross is racist.

        • Chaos
        • McKinley

          Itz good to see that the jews and their anti-White suck poops are spreading their kill Whitey propaganda around.

          • World_War_Me

            Oh yes, with such righteous indignation. How horribly racist am I to be proud to be white? Notice in the article the stormfront guy was not confrontational but the ever-victimized jews were spewing hate like pea soup…and the WHITE guy is the threat? People like this essayist converted me from my delusional liberal ways. I just simply refuse to play into this 1984 groupthink presented by this writer.

        • W. Nist

          So wonderful to see your tolerance of freedoms extends to everyone. When someone takes pride in anything other than being jewish, complain, complain, complain until they are driven back. Yeah…keep pushing.

          Did he confront you? No. Has he done anything illegal? No. Yet you still try to cause problems for him, and you wonder why you are demonized as a people.

          I’m wondering if you actually work undercover as a recruiter for the KKK, because it’s people like you who are driving more and more to seek them out and join.

          I ordered my first White Pride shirt after reading your tripe. Thanks for waking me up to the crap the JDL is pulling. Keep pushing, you might even make a hater out of me yet.

          • World_War_Me

            Well said, nist. I used to be a liberal myself, but people like this writer actually turned me the other way with this absurd drivel they think is social justice.

        • SPQR

          This article is an excellent reminder, and motivator, for people of European origin to organize on behalf of their own group interests. I wish to thank Dan for the clear delineation of hypocrisy and self righteousness that pervades all discourse on race, which in reality is anti-white at its core.

          • World_War_Me

            You said it, i agree 100%

        • Allen

          I am the person that this Jew is talking about. Where to begin? This creature was eavesdropping on me when I noticed him [presumably] recording me with his cell phone. He went around the store trying to stir up the non-whites to attack me. Eventually he approached me and I told him that I had no interest in talking with him. He then proceeded to address me about my shirt and try to further incite the non-whites that I work with. I then debated this Jew for 10 minutes turning his upside-down logic right side-up. Eventually, defeated this hate-mongering Jew hung his head and left. I got a round of applause from everyone present; White,Black,Hispanic and Asian. He contacted corporate and tried to get me fired. His report was as loaded with lies as this op-ed piece is. This is a perfect example of why normal people hate Jews.

        • jewy

          PLEASE NOTE: This comment has been removed because it is a violation of MetroFocus’ comment policy.

        • Allen

          I might also add that when I was approached by the store manager about this incident he had a copy of Mr. Allen’s e-mail that he sent to the district manager. So Mr. Allen is being deceitful when he implies that he only contacted my store manager. No, this Jew’s agenda is to harass and destroy white people who don’t bow down to Jewism. This has been their standard operating procedure for centuries.

          • World_War_Me

            I’m glad you are able to tell your side of the story. From what i read in this absurd piece, you were the only person who acted civilized.

        • Alex

          Whites – the only group not allowed to organize. Where is the White homeland paid for by US tax dollars?

        • Robin

          I am astonished at the vulgarity of neo-nazi hate speech on this thread. The article was alarming enough, but the comments on this board warrant federal investigation. It chills me to the bone. Its not simply crazy, its very threatening.
          It gives the appearance of organization. Thats not cool, and its not okay. I feel like calling the authorities, but first I might just have to vomit.

          • Carl

            lol @ you for thinking comments on a website require the attention of law enforcement, you must not understand free speech, saying stuff like you just said is why people hate jews, hate speech is free speech and if you don’t like it then you can go catch the next train outta here

          • World_War_Me

            gasp! Whites organized! Robin has GOT to be a comedian because i’m still chuckling over that comment

        • Phalluster

          How can this belligerent Jew’s ramblings be deemed fit to publish? The Midwood “attacks” were proven as a Jew’s clumsy attempt at insurance fraud. The rash of “anti-semitic vandalism” was attributed to another community Jew, David Haddad. Yet, this author sees White Supremacy lurking in every shadow, and his paranoia is echoed throughout his ethnically-exclusive community. Is the irony lost on him that his merry band of Jews rally around the same types of banners and catchphrases, yet somehow their “good” must prevail?

          I personally would not welcome his attitudes into my own vibrant, diverse community.

          • World_War_Me

            Mmmm hmmmm

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