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January 30, 2020 9:54 am

Antisemitism on the American Right — and Its Ties to Russia

avatar by Harold Brackman


People pray at a makeshift memorial near the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oct. 31, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Cathal McNaughton.

The FBI has arrested members of “The Base” for plans to transform a massive pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, into a violent riot. The Base is virulently antisemitic, although also a self-styled “white protection league.” It broke into the headlines last September, when New Jersey leader Richard Tobin activated two members of The Base’s Great Lakes Cell to vandalize synagogues in Racine, Wisconsin, and Hancock, Michigan. Tobin proudly called his remote-control desecration of synagogues the first act of a national terror campaign, named “Operation Kristallnacht,” which included murder plots.

The Base’s “race war preppers” have debated how Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue massacre can be exploited to precipitate a white vs. black civil war. Their goal: secession from “ZOG” (the Zionist Occupation Government) by means of a guerilla war.

The Base brings to mind the violent but short-lived career, over 30 years ago, of The Order (known by true believers as the Brüder Schweigen or “Brothers Keep Silent”). The Order was founded in 1983 by Robert Jay Mathews on his Metaline, Washington, farm. Mathews modeled The Order on William L. Pierce’s novel, The Turner Diaries, which ends with “The Day of the Rope,” or the hanging of Jews on lampposts on every street corner. In June 1984, two members of The Order, David Lane and Bruce Pierce, assassinated Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg, atop their “hit list” of prominent Jews to murder.

The Order planned to finance its operations by counterfeiting, as well as robbing “black pimps and drug dealers.” There followed armed car robberies, netting more than $4 million. A dozen members of The Order were convicted under Federal RICO anti-racketeering statutes from 1985 to 1987.

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The Order and The Base share white supremacist, antisemitic ideologies, with debts to the Christian Identity and Aryan Nations Movements. Both experimented with radically decentralized command structures, and using “lone wolves.” Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City, was a “lone wolf.” The Base might be considered the reincarnation of The Order after a long hibernation.

Mathews had to work hard to organize, finance, and recruit for The Order. In contrast, the high command of The Base had little to do beyond pushing a computer key and linking to the Internet to organize, using encrypted online membership applications.

The Base has cells stretching from Canada, where explosives expert Patrick Mathews is a dangerous fugitive, to Australia. This, too, is a reflection of how online and social media technologies have revolutionized violent right-wing antisemitism in America, giving it a global reach.

We now know more about the founder of The Base: Rinaldo Navarro, aka Norman Spear (and also Roman Wolf). In his forties, he grew up in the Northeast. He married a Russian woman in 2012. After years of being associated with white separatist groups in Washington state, he popped up in St. Petersburg, pictured wearing a Vladimir Putin tee-shirt with the inscription: “Russia, Absolute Power.” Apparently, he was a guest of the Russian government, and may have ties to the Kremlin’s disinformation apparatus targeting the US.

After the 9/11 attacks, the FBI was preoccupied with terrorist threats emanating from the Middle East. Their new preoccupation is the American homeland. Indeed, domestic terrorism is more prevalent than foreign plots. However, Rinaldo Navarro in Russia demonstrates how domestic terrorists can develop foreign connections.

Historian Harold Brackman is coauthor with Ephraim Isaac of ‘From Abraham to Obama: A History of Jews, Africans, and African Americans’ (Africa World Press, 2015).

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