Opposing Zionism, supporting National Socialism

3 Dec 2009 by CST

A Czech neo-Nazi has been convicted of incitement to racial hatred for comments he made about Jews, at a far right event he had organised in Plzen in March. The march was intended to be a protest "against Zionism":

Czech Tomas Babka, 22, was Friday sentenced to 300 hours of community work for his abusive statements on Jews during a march of rightist extremists that he organised in Plzen in March.

Babka originally faced up to two years in prison for incitement of racial hatred towards a group of people.

Babka confessed to the controversial statements, but he declined that they had promoted fascism and Nazism. He also denied having supported rightist radicals.

According to the police files, Babka spoke up at the end of a march "against Zionism" on March 14.

"Jointly for the idea of national socialism. Public resistance is a duty where injustice rules," Babka is cited as saying during the march.

According to the charges, he thereby manifested his positive stance on national socialism and expressed support for a Nazi movement.

Babka was charged with support and promotion of movements suppressing human rights and freedoms.

However, the judge re-qualified the act, saying Babka first expressed his aversion to Zionism, criticised Jews as a nation and only then he uttered the controversial statements.

One isolated statement cannot prove his link to a neo-Nazi organisation and support for a concrete extremist movement, the judge said.

The month before this took place, Babka had tried to organise a march in Plzen to "Protest against Zionism and Jewish influence in society". This was banned by the authorities, and few people turned up. Both events were part of a new trend in the Czech Republic of younger, more violent neo-Nazis, who go by the name "Autonomous Nationalists", adopting anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians as part of their wider antisemitic agenda. They are also violently anti-Roma, as this report from Amnesty International describes. Babka has a record of activity with the Autonomous Nationalists:

The police labelled Babka as one of the leading representatives of the Autonomous Nationalists in the Plzen Region who had close contacts with the radical part of the National Resistance Prague extremist movement.

Babka has regularly participated in various events of right-wing extremists, according to the police.

Babka, on his part, denied having supported rightist extremists, and he said he wanted the march to react to the occupation of Palestine.

Babka has already been convicted four times.

The most recently, he was given a 15-month suspected sentence with a 3.5-year probation for rioting and an attempt at causing bodily harm in April.

Autonomous Nationalists originated in Germany, where, as thesereports describe, they have brought a new level of far right violence to the streets. Their anti-Zionism reflects a conscious effort to mimic the look of their far left opponents. This is a description of a riot they sparked on May Day last year in Hamburg:

On May 1 the northern German port city of Hamburg experienced the worst violence it has seen in years. A group of neo-Nazis attacked police and far-left demonstrators; the mob erected road blocks, set cars on fire and hurled bottles and stones at police. The police later said there would have been fatalities if it wasn't for the water cannons and the riot gear with which the officers broke up the two groups. Nevertheless, dozens of people, including several police officers, were severely injured.

May 1 has always been a traditional day of protests in Germany, always dominated, however, by far-left violence. For the first time, the street clashes in Hamburg shed light on a group of neo-Nazis who are purposefully pursuing violence. They dress in black hooded sweaters and wear black sunglasses and hats, making them look almost like their far-left rivals. Calling themselves "Autonomous Nationalists," these young neo-Nazis don't believe in political work -- they believe in violence only.

"This group wants to be excessively violent," Hajo Funke, one of Germany's leading experts on far-right extremism, told United Press International in a telephone interview. "And the problem is that more young extremists are joining them, fueled also by activities like the one in Hamburg."

The estimated total manpower of the Autonomous Nationalists over the past year has doubled to 440.

They have also emerged in Holland, where, according to Searchlight:

The Autonomous Nationalists are a bunch of young people from groups like Blood&Honour, the Action Front, Combat18, the National Socialist Action (NSA) and Youth Storm who wear black clothes, baseball caps and Palestinian scarves in a direct copy of the dress code favoured by some on the radical left.

They also demonstrate in a so-called "black block" formation which, again, copies some elements of the far left and is supposedly a means of protecting themselves from police attack or assaults from opponents. It is noteworthy that this group now constitutes the main part of NVU demonstrations and brings it own banners and shouts its own slogans.

Although Autonomous Nationalists do not seem to have any significant presence in the UK, their combination of support for the Palestinians with overt antisemitism and national socialism is a clear echo of the  ideology developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by the International Third Position, a Strasserite breakaway from the National Front which included, amongst its early leadership, a certain Nick Griffin.


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Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth