Neo-Nazis still pose real threat

By Jessica Elgot, October 27, 2011
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A far-right extremism expert has warned that the real threat of neo-Nazi terrorism is being ignored because of the focus on Islamist violence.

During a debate on the British far right at the Jewish Museum last week, author Nick Ryan warned that antisemitism was still "the glue" which united many extreme far-right groups in Europe and the US.

Mr Ryan, who spent six years researching neo-Nazis for his 2003 book Homeland, warned that the media were too quick to dismiss the far-right as "a joke."

He warned that Jews who became involved with far-right organisations, on an anti-Islam ticket, were causing more problems. "Far-right extremism encourages extremism on the other side as well. The English Defence League was an excuse for Muslims against Crusades to claim Muslims were being persecuted."

The debate was organised as part of a programme on the 75th anniversary of the battle of Cable Street.

It was hosted by Time Out journalist Rebecca Taylor, and featured Index on Censorship's Padraig Reidy and Nick Lowles from anti-fascist organisation Searchlight.

Mr Lowles said the worry about antisemitism stemming from the far left's obsession with Israel was a concern. But he said no one should be in any doubt about the racism within the EDL. "There is a northern division of the EDL, who call themselves 'The Infidels', who openly talk about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and a Jewish conspiracy."

Ms Taylor, who has interviewed Jewish BNP councillor Pat Richardson and former Jewish EDL division leader Roberta Moore, said she believed Jewish far-right involvement was a "small but significant phenomenon. How can it be that we now see even a few Jews standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people who threaten our very existence?"

    Last updated: 10:01am, October 27 2011