Poland’s unique geopolitical climate and domestic factors make for an interesting case of far-right momentum. Poland’s Freedom and Justice Party, or the PiS, currently dominates the country’s political life, having received 8 million votes in 2019- an increase of 40% from its share in 2015. The PiS has taken several steps toward a less democratic Poland, most notoriously with its Supreme Court overhaul which forced around one third of Justices to retire and be replaced by Party appointees. The PiS has passed bold legislation in defense of ‘traditional Christian values’ against what Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński has called a “dangerous ideological offensive,” referring to a broad range of perceived enemies: liberal elites, Jews, an influx of migrants and refugees, and LGBTQ Poles. They have stoked fear about ethnic and cultural ‘replacement,’ and encouraged Polish families to have several children to counteract this perceived threat by giving a stipend of 500 zlotys (about $130) a month to families for every child they have. However, it would be inaccurate to call the PiS a fascist or radical right, because they have not attempted to obtain power or enact legislation outside the bounds of democracy. When the European Court of Justice ordered the PiS to suspend its judicial overhaul in October, the Party complied with minimal resistance. “We are fulfilling our obligations,” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told parliament. While the PiS did cooperate with this direct order from the EU, the Party is generally very Euroskeptic and has aligned with Hungary’s Viktor Orban and his far-right Fidesz Party in its anti-EU sentiment.
While the PiS has not crossed the threshold of all-out
fascism, there are several smaller political parties in Poland which are much
closer to meeting that definition. The
Obóz Naradowo-Radaykalny (ONR) was founded in 1934 and was modeled on Italian fascism,
espousing deeply anti-Semitic views and committing acts of terrorism while
Poland was under Soviet rule. The ONR was banned by the government shortly
after its founding for its radical and dangerous actions. However, the group is still active today,
organizing nationalist marches with its members in trademark green armbands and
military-style uniforms. It is important to note that since the PiS
has been in power, the police have not taken action against such marches. The most significant other far-right party in
Poland is the Konfederajca (Confederation), which is a coalition of several
small far-right parties such as Korwin, Ruch Narodowy, and the Confederation of
the Polish Crown (KKP). They were able to pick up several seats in
last month’s parliamentary election, despite some extreme views such as the
KKP’s nostalgia for monarchy and Ruch Narodowy’s radical anti-EU stance. Poland’s far-right parties tend not to look
for global connection because they are devoutly nationalist and have
historically been conquered and exploited by Russia and Germany. The main source of international solidarity
that they feel is with Hungary, with PiS leader Jeroslaw Kaczyński openly
aiming to mimic the “illiberal democracy” that Viktor Orban has established in
Far-rights groups have been operating in Australia since the 1920s and were at that time primarily based around anti-communism and anti-Semitism. Since the 1990s and more recently, a large number of extreme-right groups have emerged in Australia. The first thing to notice is that the far-right in Australia is not characterized by a united radical right populist party but rather by a wide range of recent, small extreme right groups and movements, combining online organization and intimidating street activity.
The “Antipodean Resistance” hate group, first formed as a website and founded in 2016, is particularly representative of this tendency. The movement “Identity Australia” follows the same pattern. In addition, these groups are often registered as “non-profit organizations” such as the “Australian Defense League”, a white supremacist Islamophobic group founded in 2009. All these groups can be defined as neo-fascist movements. Furthermore, the majority of these extreme-right movements are xenophobic and racist. They target Asian, Muslim and native Australian communities. For example, in 2017, “Antipodean Resistance” initiated a campaign of posters in universities threatening Chinese students with deportation. In addition, on its website, the group “Identity Australia” calls for the “defense of European Australians” and talks about an “ethnocidal invasion of Australia”, referring to immigrants. This group denies the rights of natives and organizes environmental protection actions. This shows how the environmental issue can be recovered by the far right on the rhetoric of the “motherland”. The “Lads Society”, founded in 2017, directs its racism first towards the African-Australian community and the Muslim community. It is important to note that the leader of the Lads Society asked the perpetrator of the Christchurch attacks to join the movement but that the latter refused.
As a result, far-right in Australia is characterized by a wide range of small groups, often founded very recently, and which are deeply xenophobic and racist, primarily against Asians, Muslims and natives Australians. Their ideas are based on the nostalgia for the virgin land of the first European colonizers.
On the front of legitimate politics, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party is a powerful political force. While they have not had much overall political success, gaining only 4% of the nationwide vote in the 2016 federal election, they have seen some minor successes on local levels, with several members being elected to state legislative bodies. They seem to be marginally more popular in Queensland, but overall are not a politically powerful party. Where their strength comes in is through their rhetoric. While they have repeatedly denied claims that they are a racist party, through their policies and dogma it is clear that they appeal to a racist voter base. The party’s leader, Pauline Hanson, has stated “Criticism is not racism. There is real racism in this country: black racism, where you will get assistance because of the colour of your skin”. The party caused a large shock in Australia when they emerged on the scene, and their primary goal was not to necessarily have political victory, but rather put pressure on mainstream conservative parties to adopt more radical policy to not split the vote, a measure in which they found some success.
Despite the limited success of the One Nation Party, Australia lacks a centralized, powerful far-right group and instead consists of much smaller and often weaker groups. This is not to say that there is not any xenophobic or fascist sentiment in Australia, as indeed a large issue in Australia is the anti-immigration feelings that many people hold towards Asians, as well as the mistreatment of the aborigines. Smaller parties take advantage of these sentiments and attempt to grow support among the people. An example of a smaller far right party in Australia is “Australia First”. Australia First is an explicitly far-right party, currently led by Jim Saleam, a former Neo-Nazi and convicted criminal. Their flag incorporates the Eureka Flag, a flag from the Eureka rebellion and often used symbol in Australia of anti-establishment. In their electoral attempts, they have seen almost no success, only having two members be elected to city councils since their founding in 1996 and only securing 0.8% of the vote in the 2016 federal election. Most of their action is non-violent and mainly consists of online activity, protests and distributing pamphlets, although there have been many allegations of racism brought against them. Another example of a far-right party in Australia is the Yellow Vests Australia party, who renamed in April of 2019 and were previously known as the Australian Liberty Alliance. They run on an anti-immigration campaign specifically targeting Muslim immigration into Australia. Similarly, to Australia First, they have found little success in elections, gaining only small successes on a local level, and were even de-registered in the state of Victoria in 2019, meaning they cannot apply for re-registration until 2022. These two parties are prime examples of what sort of electoral power far-right groups have in Australia, which is to say, very little.
Currently, there are six major violent extremist far right groups in Australia. Those being: The Soldiers of Odin, the True Blue Crew, the Lads Society, The Antipodean Resistance, The Australian Defence League, and the Proud Boys. While grey area exists between many radical right organizations in Australia and the extreme right organizations, the six named organizations are all explicitly violent, with two of them, the Lads Society and the True Blue Crew being directly implicated in domestic terror cases from the past decade. In the wake of The Christchurch Shooting in March 2019, the leader of the Lads Society, Thomas Sewell literally approached the perpetrator of the shooting and asked him to formally join the Lads Society. Additionally, the perpetrator had previously praised the True Blue Crew online. The True Blue Crew itself was responsible for an attempted terrorist plot to firebomb an anarchist bookstore in 2016 which resulted in a member being charged for terrorism related offences. All Groups listed though, are known to be violent and don’t seek to work with the electorate to accomplish their ends, distinguishing them from the radical right in Australia.
The far-right in Australia has a history of looking for influence globally. Specifically, the far right looks for influence mainly from the UK and New Zealand. Overall, the far-right in Australia is extremely anti-immigrant and nationalist and in this way is very focused on global happenings as they claim dangerous acts committed by immigrants. A prominent example of global connections is the One Nation party. As a more successful electoral party, One Nation has tried to develop connections to the NRA in the United States. These can be seen from an Al Jazeera journalist who infiltrated the group and their meetings with the NRA. Although it does not seem like the connection was successful, One Nation was looking for a social media boost and potentially money as well. The leader of One Nation, Pauline Hanson, has also been quoted as saying that President Trump has heavily influenced her. The far-right, in general, is also heavily interconnected with New Zealand as prominently displayed in the ChristChurch shooting conducted by an Australian member of the far-right. Another influence that can be seen is that of the KKK. In 2016, the Australia First Party endorsed David Duke’s campaign for the U.S. Senate via Twitter, which was later reposed on Stormfront, a far-right site of which Duke is a member. The leader of Australia First used to be in National Action Australia and was convicted for plotting the assasination of a member of the Aftrican National Congress in South Africa. Another group in Australia, Combat 18, is a faction of the greater UK organization and obviously has had major influence from the parent organization in the UK.
1: What far-right parties are active? What defines them as far-right/fascist/radical right?
The far-right in Germany is not limited to “fringe” or informal groups, there are two legitimate political parties, the Alternativ für Detschland (AfD) and the Nationaldemokratische Partei (NPD), that have representatives at the local, state, and national levels. The AfD is fairly new to the political scene and has only been an official party since 2013, but now holds 91 seats in the Bundestag and is the third largest party representation. Since 2017 the Party has seen increased support among voters aged 18-30, particularly in the former East Germany, but they now have elected officials from all 16 German states. Anti-immigrant rhetoric is frequently espoused by both AfD politicians and supporters, with many party leaders claiming to be fighting against an “invasion of foreigners”. Following an attack at a synagogue in Halle (Saxony-Anhalt), in which a man named Stephan Balliet attempted to carry out a mass shooting and killed two people outside after not being able to gain entry, SPD politician Rolf Mützenich said “he was buoyed by a system of agitation, chauvinism and far-right extremism. And the AfD is part of that system”. Many politicians have echoed this sentiment, but it’s hard to ignore the AfD is gaining more support each election.
The NPD, however, has been active for over fifty years and has been called a neo-nazi party from its inception. Unlike the AfD, the NPD has never been able to achieve the minimum five percent of the vote to gain seats in the Bundestag, but they have held a number of local and state positions. In September 2019, Stefan Jagsch was elected mayor of Waldsiedlung (Hesse) after running unopposed, but after public outcry the city council is pushing to reverse the decision. Since 2017 there have been calls to ban the NPD and the spread of their racist views, but they have survived all attempts. Additionally, in May 2019 the German Constitutional Court ruled on behalf of the NPD and ordered the media company ARD to air one of their ads, which rallied for the “creation of ‘safe zones’ for Germans who have become ‘victims’ of mass immigration. Even more upsetting is the fact that the NPD has started creating vigilante patrols in areas that have a high number of immigrants to “protect” German citizens. It is unsurprising that this is occuring in Bavaria first, which was the birthplace of National Socialism, and fitting for one of the largest neo-nazi organizations in operation today.
2 Are there any extremist/violent groups operating in the country? What acts of terror have they been responsible for?
In July 2018, the trial for Beate Zschäpe, a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), one of the most infamous neo-Nazi groups, finally came to an end. Beate received a sentence of life in prison for almost 13 years of right-wing funded crimes her and two other NSU members committed across Germany. The fact that this terror cell went undetected for so long is an indicator of a bigger problem of neo-nazism within Germany and how it hasn’t been handled as a serious threat. With anti-immigrant sentiments becoming prominent within far right platforms, attacks against immigrants are on the rise. Acts such as the 2004 nail bomb attack in Cologne, which targeted a Turkish neighborhood, are thought to be the effect of far right radicalization and are thought to be committed by violent terror groups. Groups like Nordkreuz have been especially active in targeting left leaning or sympathetic politicians, Nordkreuz having created a “death list” of 25,000 politicians and stockpiling weapons. Support and encouragement of crimes are also becoming more common, PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) leader Lutz Bachmann has called for opponents of his to be killed. Activists are frequently inspired to commit such acts when they are encouraged by their leaders to do so. Frequently, like with Der Dritte Weg, protests will be planned but would eventually morph into violence.
Because of the number of established and underground extremist groups operating in Germany, far-right extremist violence is now one of the biggest threats to domestic security. A prime example occurred in June of 2019, the country was shocked by the assasination of Walter Lübcke, who had a pro-immigration agenda and was the first German politician to be killed by far-right extremists in the post war era. The main suspect in Lübcke’s murder is Stephen Ernst, a Christian extremist with ties to the NPD and Combat 18, a British neo-Nazi group with cells in the United States and Canada. Lübcke’s killing is one in a string of attacks against German political figures who have left-wing, or pro-refugee platforms. The European refugee crisis and Angela Merkle’s open arms policy agitated many of these groups into action. While attacks are still rare compared to the frequency seen in the United States, they are emblematic of a changing political culture that has gotten progressively violent over the years. Or perhaps, a political culture that has been operating silently since the Nuremberg trials, and is only now rearing its ugly head.
Another group who has recently caught the attention of the German police is ‘Revolution Chemnitz’, a neo-Nazi group belonging to the hooligan and skinhead scene working around Chemnitz in Saxony, their goal is to surpass the NSU and make them look like a ‘kindergarten group’ in comparison. They were accused of attempting to arouse a violent uprising in Chemnitz. While unsuccessful, the number of small extremist groups popping up is indicative of bad times to come. Again in Saxony, lies another group, Gruppen Freital, an extremist group targeting immigrants and anti-fascist activists. In 2018, they were charged in Dresden for charges of terrorism and attempted murder. Between July and November 2015, the group purchased pyrotechnics from the Czech Republic, modifying them to use as explosives in five attacks. They targeted refugee homes, the homes and offices of Die Linke politicians, and an alternative housing project set up by refugee supporters in Dresden.
3 Is the far-right in this country looking globally for influence? Can you find evidence of global connections between the far-right in this nation and others?
There is substantial evidence of the German far-right being influenced by outside groups. The Identitarian Movement, for example, is a far-right ideology centered around the belief that the culture and territory of Europe should be preserved for those who are “authentically European”. This xenophobic and Islamaphobic movement originated in France and its international influence has infiltrated German borders where there is an estimated 600 active members. Lastly, there is perhaps no better example of the transnationality of the far right in Germany than the National Socialist Knights of the KKK Deutschland, because historically far-right members from other countries have looked to the American far-right for inspiration. And today, as far right beliefs are on the rise, the growth of KKK sympathizers internationally has led to the revival of the National Socialist Knights of the KKK Deutschland.
The German far-right has also had significant success in expanding their influence into other countries around the globe as transnationality becomes a more common theme within the far-right. Of course Nazi Germany has had an everlasting affect on society with the continuation of neo-nazi affiliations, especially considering the Nuremberg trials that followed WW2, which failed to prosecute Nazis on a wider level. Now, modern German movements have also become global voices of the far-right. For example, PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) is a far-right and anti-Islam political movement in Europe. Although this movement was originally German Nationalist, the group has expanded into several international offshoots such as Pegida Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Additionally, PEGIDA has worked alongside many international far-right groups with similar beliefs in organizing protests and demonstrations. This is one of the most worrying trends developing in Europe. With extremist governments gaining legitimacy, Europe must take the threat of domestic right-wing extremism more seriously.
In recent times, Canada has championed liberal policies like universal health care, legalization of same-sex marriage, carbon pricing, multiculturalism, legalization of cannabis, reproductive choice etc. attributed to the dominance of liberal politics in Canada. In the October 2019 election, Trudeau’s Liberal Party was able to barely hang on to a majority (despite Trudeau’s blackface controversy) in the House of Commons losing 20 seats from the 2015 election. The dominance of liberal policies however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t reactionary far-right groups and parties in Canada. Examples of such groups include: Nationalist Party of Canada, La Meute, People’s Party of Canada and Pegida Quebec. The most popular of the groups is the People’s Party of Canada led by Maxime Bernier. Famously, in the 2019 election, Bernier lost the one seat the party had (belonging to him) in 2015, despite having 338 candidates (a full slate). Bernier and his party have been described as racist, xenophobic, and populist by their opponents by making statements that “warn people of newcomers that threaten to bring distrust and political violence. However, there doesn’t seem to be any violence attributed to the party, and therefore can be classified as far-right as opposed to radical right. On the other hand, groups like La Meute, which have a strong presence in Quebec, have goals to “become large enough and organized enough to constitute a force that can’t be ignored”. The group was formed by 2 ex-members of the Canadian Armed forces and are a nationalist pressure group that claim to be fighting illegal immigration and radical Islam. The group regularly engages in marches and protests that are often met with counter-protests leading to violence. There is no doubt that this is a radical right group driven by hate. Similarly, Pegida Quebec is a radical right group that operates in Quebec but was originally founded in Dresden, Germany in 2014. Pegida Qubec aims to preserve “European heritage” and are anti-Islam, xenophobic and nationalist. Members regularly conduct anti-immigration marches and participate in burning Mosques. The Nationalist Party of Canada is an unregistered Canadian political party that aims to promote and maintain “European Heritage and Culture in Canada”. One can infer that there is a general theme between all of these far-right parties in Canada. They all appear to be anti-immigration (in particular anti-Islam), proclaim to be protecting the “European Heritage” of Canada, and resort to xenophobic and racist rhetoric to present their views. While some groups aim to achieve their goals through the political system, the more radical ones conduct marches and acts of terror/violence.
A thorough internet search did not uncover many active and popular extremist/violent far-right groups in Canada. Indeed, the Klu Klux Klan has branches of its organization located in Canada, but it does not pose a large threat or have a big influence on society as a whole. The biggest threat to Canadian society is the “terrorist inspired violent Islamic ideology” that allows groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and others to influence individuals who then engage in violence on the groups’ behalf. For example, a Somlian refugee broke a barricade at a football game, struck a police officer with his car, stabbed the officer, and then went on to strike four pedestrians with a U-Haul truck while trying to evade arrest. While not officially charged with terrorism, police did recover an Islamic State flag in his car and suspected him of extremism in the past. Another man from Quebec was killed by police after running over two soldiers in his car “in the name of Allah”. The man was already being monitored, as he had been placed on a radicalized watch-list for posting extremist messages on social media. Finally, another Canadian man, who was sympathetic to Islamic extremism, provoked a deadly shooting spree at the Parliament building and a national war memorial. These incidents demonstrate that acts of extremism and terror inspired by radical Islamic ideology, thanks to groups such as ISIS, have had resounding impacts on Canadian society and its view of far-right extremist groups. Another far-right extremist group that encourages violence among its members is Combat 18, the armed branch of Blood and Honour, and the first far-right extremist group to be recognized on Canada’s List of Terrorist Entities. This neo-Nazi group is responsible for politically motivated assaults, homicides, and attacks agaist anti-fascist groups. A 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec, although not directly tied to Combat 18 or Blood and Honour, is said to have been motivated by extreme right-wing ideologies. Driven by anti-immigrant, nationalist, anti-feminist, far-right views, local student Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire during the Mosque’s evening prayers, killing 6 people and wounding 19 others. Bissonnette was an active member of online far-right chat forums and networks and carried out his attack after President Trump banned immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, and Trudeau consequently welcomed them to Canada. The far-right ideologies that Blood and Honour and Combat 18 espouse inspired other violent attacks, including the shooting of three police officers by a man spouting pro-gun, anti-government views. Thus, although violent/extremist far-right groups are not astoundingly prevalent in Canada, they do promote violence and contribute to far-right, nationalist rhetoric that inspires unaffiliated extremists to carry out attacks against others. In our increasingly interconnected world, far right groups are more and more looking across borders for allies and those they can spread their ideas to. Canada is no exception to this, and has a surprising amount of representation in the global far right community. For one, many online far right and/or white nationalist celebrities are from Canada, including Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, and the online media conglomerate Rebel Media. Stefan Molyneux is a youtuber and podcast host with almost 1 million subscribers who espoused white nationalist rhetoric and has been described as a cult leader. Although he is from Canada much of his audience is international, and he has ties to much of the American far right including Jared Taylor, an avowed white nationalist who runs a pseudo-scientific magazine promoting anti-black and latino articles. He’s also toured Australia and has collaborated with many other right wing personalities. Lauren Southern is also a Youtuber which ¾ of a million subscribers who regularly pushes blatantly racist ideas such as the “Great Replacement” theory. She has worked with far right groups in Europe to stop aid being given to immigrants crossing the Meditteranean back in 2015, and she has spoken across the world including on a tour of Australia with Molyneux in 2018, at Berkley’s patriot day, and tried to speak in the UK before she was banned from there. She worked for Rebel Media up until 2017 and has appeared at White House press conference briefings in the US. Her youtube channel does not focus solely on Canada but on far right issues across the world. Rebel Media is a far right online news network founded by former Sun personalities in 2015. It is famous for it’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and has ties to the founder of the Proud Boys in the US Gavin McInnes, Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far right group the English Defense League, and has supported far right politicians and figures across the world such as Marine LePen, Richard Spencer, and Janice Athinson. The radical right in Canada also has ties internationally. As stated above both the KKK and ISIS have some influence among Canadians, however they are not the only international radical right groups operating there. The Soldier of Odin, a Finnish white supremacist and anti-Muslim group, has a presence in Quebec and is famous for it’s street patrols. Three Percent is a militia that was founded in America and has subsequently spread to all of Canada’s provinces. They have been linked to the actions of Justin Borque, who killed 3 police officers after sharing 3% memes and owned a confederate flag. PEGIDA, or the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident is a German anti-Muslin group that also has a Canadian chapter. Individual radical right terrorists have also been inspired by international right wing speakers and communities, such as Alek Minassian who drove a truck into a crowd in 2018 killing 10. He was inspired by Elliot Roger, who shot six women in California in 2014 because he was angry at women, and Alek had similar motivation. Lastly, Alexandre Bissonnette shot up an Islamic cultural center in Quebec, killing 6 and wounding 19 in 2018. He was an ardent Trump supporter and was a fan of Ben Shapiro, an American far right online personality. He was radicalized online and would later be the inspiration for the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand the next year. Looking at overall statistics, Canada had a spike in hate-inspired criminal activity after Trump was elected in the US and have stayed high. I think it’s safe to say that although Canada is often seen as a peaceful and liberal country, it has an outsized influence within the international far right discourse, and has an especially close relationship with the far right of the US, and to a lesser extent those of the commonwealth and the UK.
When looking at the Israeli far
right we can see the impact of the way in which it was created on their future
and modern far right attitude. The spread of far-right politics in Israel is so
vast that it seems forever embedded in the system, especially when the left
side of the spectrum is so scattered and subsequently too weak to present an
opposition. Many of Israel’s far-right parties have radical tendencies,
especially when the power is in the hands of a very controversial far-right
politician such as Nahyanhu whose reluctance, much like other far-right
leaders, remains strongly skewed against Muslim Arabs. The entitlement and
ideology behind their settler colonialism is present in many of the extremist
groups that have operated and are operating in Israel today. The common
ideological foundations of these groups is the removal of Palestinians from
their land. The international roots of many of these groups is also explored,
with the influence of Russia in the government and the US in non-governmental issues.
Historical roots of fascism / far right in Israel?
Israel is a
settler-colonial state. Settler colonialism is the process by which a foreign
people invade a territory under the oversight of an imperial power and
establish settlements as part of a larger colonial project that involves the
necessary displacement of the indigenous population. That larger colonial
project, was in this case, Zionism. It is important to note that while some
settler colonies, like the US and Australia, started as colonial movements
which became national movements, Zionism started as a national movement which
eventually became settler-colonial. This Zionist settler-colonial project
ultimately operated on the imperialist paradox of Palestine existing as both an
empty territory and one filled with “ignoble or perhaps even dispensable
natives” (Edward Said, 1979).
Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky was an
early Zionist thinker and founder of Revisionist Zionism, which followed the
legacy of Theodore Herzl and “political zionism.” Revisionist Zionism became
the base for right-wing politics in Israel and insisted on the occupation of
the full territory. Jabotinsky captures the essence of this settler-colonial
project in “The Iron Wall” (1923): “There can be
no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. […] The
native populations, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted
the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilised or savage.”
This implies the necessity of ridding Palestine in order to found the new
Zionist state. Edward Said states: the “implicit
assumption of domination led specifically in the case of Zionism to the
practice of ignoring the natives for the most part as not entitled to serious
consideration.” This created the context and foundation for the ethnic
cleansing of Arabs in Palestine and the mass fleeing that occured due to
Israeli settlements. This settler-colonial dynamic materializes both in the
Israeli government and its right-wing parties as well as in extremist groups
operating in Israel.
What far-right parties are active? What defines them as far-right/fascist/radical right?
Infamous radical right-wing
parties, include but are not limited to the messianic Gush Emunim, committed to
establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, recently assassinated Meir
Kahane’s violent Kach party, the Tehiya party, which articulates an
ultra-conservative agenda in parliament, and the Moledet party which demands
the “transfer” i.e. deportation of all the Arabs of the West Bank to the
surrounding Arab countries.
Today, Israel’s political outlook
does not seem much different than its past. Since 1977, Likud was only truly
out of power for 9 years. In all other occasions, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s
longest-serving Prime Minister to date and leader of the Likud, recognized that
any space for dialogue with Palestinians was closed off. He thus brought the
far right into his numerous administrations and managed to sustain its presence
by making use of Israel’s stability stance in contrast with a continuous
international unrest. Furthermore, discrediting democratic components in an
often violent setting across the Middle East, Likud managed to strengthen its
position in government and shift public opinion further to the right.
representation political system with its relatively low election threshold that
is required to get a seat in the Knesset (3.25% since 2015) promotes a
multi-party system in which various parties can be represented but none can get
the necessary 61 seats to form a majority government. Hence, when a coalition
is formed to get a majority, it is also difficult to overthrow. Although Likud
has been one of the most successful parties of Israel, a great significance
should be placed on other smaller right-wing factions that helped make up this
majority in government. Other right-wing parties with seats in the Knesset are
the Blue and White, the Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and
Why is it salient that Netanyahu
remains in power? The PM has been widely criticised about his radical rhetoric:
“In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts” referring
to Palestinians in 2016. Under his rule, the far right seems to blossom while
internationally, he is renowned to have strong ties with other highly
controversial figures of racist and radical far right origin, including
Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban who is a far-right leader but who would much rather
side with Israel than Muslim Arabs.
Other than the parties already
mentioned, there are a number of far right parties that are considered radical
in Israel today. These include:
The Jewish Home,
closely tied to Kahanism and Otzma Yehudit, which has also been labeled as
Kahanist (extremist Jewish ideology) and anti-Arab, one member of which was
criticised for the instigation of Arab departion from the Land of Israel
Eretz Yisrael Shelanu,
whose leader is a leading activist against “all territorial compromises to
Palestinians” and has ties with right-wing elements in the settler movement,
including Baruch Marzel’s neo-Kach party, The Jewish Front: “calling on iDF
soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate Jewish homes and calls to populate
Union-Tkuma, an Orthodox Jewish, religious Zionist far-right party, violently
against territorial concessions, with some members supporting the annexation of
the entire West Bank. Homophobia and religion is again deeply rooted in its
ideology, much like most far-right groups.
The Jewish National
Front, whose former leader was Baruch Marzel, the right-hand man of Rabbi Meir
Kahane, once again, promoting the extremist Jewish ideology of Kahanism that
initially drove the Jewish Defense League and the Kach party (labeled a Foreign
Terrorist Organization) to anti-arab, racist activism. Arabs are portrayed as
the enemy of the state, one that should be theocratic, where non-Jews do not
benefit from voting rights.
Kach, a radical
Orthodox Jewish ultranationalist party, although not as active and declared
terrorist even by the State of Israel, still have a following of about 100
people. The party used explosives or firearms against civilians and property,
including an attempt to bomb a Palestinian girls school in East Jerusalem. The
US reports that the party has also conspired to carry out assassinations and to
solicit funding from American Kahanists. Together with Ben-Zion Gopstein,
Itamar Ben-Gvir and Michael Ben-Ari, the former Kach leader Marzel became
founding members for the Lehava movement (or the “Prevention of Assimilation in
the Holy Land”) including the opposition of inter-racial marriages and
relationships between Jews and non-Jews, as well as other more violent forms of
racial activism such as the burning of Christian churches.
Are there any extremist/violent groups operating in the country? What acts of terror have they been responsible for?
One extremist group that operated in Israel is Gush Emunim.
This group was founded in 1974 and the creation of the “Jewish Underground” in
1978 was an extreme reaction to the Camp David Accords, which established a
historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The ideology of the group
requires members to become pioneers and to “personally settle all the
territories of Eretz Israel that were recovered by the Joshuas of our time”
(Sprinzak 1989, p. 180). Ehud Sprinzak claimed this group was founded on
special territorial fundamentalism over Palestinian land (ibid., p. 180). The
group have been known for violent intent, and until 1980 the primary agenda of
the group was to blow up of the “abomination” Muslim Dome of the Rock
(ibid., p.176). A more contemporary extremist group operating in Israel is the
Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement. This is an Orthodox Jewish
movement based in Jerusalem with the goal to rebuild the Third Jewish Temple on
the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Hasson 2012). This group is attempting to
operate within Israeli law, and is no longer a fringe group but is instead
becoming mainstream (ibid). The work of the group have led to arrests over fear
of their actions inciting violence as they continue to pioneer for authority
over holy Muslim land. Finally, the Jewish Defense League (JDL), although
founded and originated in America by Meir Kahane is a violent extremist Jewish
organization with branches having developed in Israel. This group has been and
continues to be extremely active in the Israeli far-right. The group deny any
Palestinian claims to now Israeli land and goes as far as to call for the
removal of all Arabs from the “Jewish-inherited soil”. An example which
demonstrates violent activity in Israel is the killing of 29 Muslim worshippers
in the West Bank, by the JDL-inspired attacker Baruch Goldstein in 1994
These three extremist groups, ranging from the 1970s to the present day, are
demonstrative of the reach and prevalence of extremist groups in Israel.
Is the far-right in this country looking globally for influence? Can you find evidence of global connections between the far-right in this nation and others?
cooperation between the Israeli far-right and foreign far-right actors
generally takes two forms: government-backed and anti-governmental. Israeli
government-backed far-right cooperation manifests in several cases. Perhaps the
most publicly scrutinized case is the contemporary relationship between Israel
and two members of the UN permanent security council: the US and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken largely pro-zionist stances
throughout his career, including as recently as September of this year
referring to Israel as a “Russian-speaking country” and that Israelis and
Russians are “connected by ties of family,
kinship and friendship” (JTA). Putin’s far-right rhetoric and nationalist
sensibilities are largely in line with those of the increasingly far-right
Israeli state, including three consecutive Israeli PMs from the
conservative/far-right party Likud, which has also taken a pro-Russia stance. Israel’s
relationship with the US is bolstered less by a mutual nationalism and rather
more by a strong faction of identity Christian politics that compels a
Christian Zionism (CUFI), which is coupled by a weak counter by the largely
liberal American-Jewish community which tends to be more supportive of zionism
(IfNotNow), and has huge financial leverage as a product of the military
industrial relationship going back decades (Mintz).
More public extreme-right action
has been a part of Israel’s history. This is usually facilitated by “diaspora
Jews” (religious Jews born and still living outside of Israel) who feel their
home country is in some way failing and that the Israeli state is being
weakened by outside forces. The most infamous practitioner of extreme-right
action like this is Meir Kahane. Meir Kahane, as a member of the Jewish Defense
League as discussed earlier, was connected to a number of plots of domestic
terrorism in the united states including plots to kidnap a Soviet diplomat and
lead an attack on other Soviet dignitaries (Neff). Kahane eventually made
aaliyah, the religious pilgrimage to Israel with intent to settle that many
diaspora Jews choose to make. In Israel he established his own far-right
pseudo-biblical party, Kach. Kach received enough to support to land Kahane a
seat in the Knesset in which he pushed for ultra-nationalist, religious, and
extremist politics. In this case a far-right zionist extremist traveled from
the US to Israel and, while a US citizen, established a radical right-wing
party. Despite Kahane having been assassinated in New York in 1990, and his
party being outlawed in Israel, his message is still frighteningly tenacious in
Israeli discourse (Guggenheim).
Throughout much of the world, once-discredited far-right ideologies have seen a recent upswell in support. Nowhere is this political shift more evident than in Brazil, whose far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has come into power despite his extreme rhetoric and connection to police militia groups connected to a variety of criminal offenses and terror attacks like the murder of leftist activist and politician Marielle Franco. In this blog post, we will be exploring the existence of active far-right political parties, extremist groups and the acts of terror they have committed, and the interaction between these groups and other far-right groups across the world.
There are five main active far-right parties in Brazil. These are: Partido Social Liberal (PSL) (Social Liberal Party), Patriota, Partido Social Cristão (Social Christian Party) and Partido Renovador Trabalhista Brasileiro (Brazillian Labour Renewal Party). The flagship ideology of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) is their fervent support for law enforcement (Langevin and Ruge). This includes the encouragement of policies favoring the reduction of restrictions on gun use and open carrying. Its less vocalized economic and socially conservative principles include the support of privatization and decentralization and the implementation of policies regarding abortion and the teaching of gender identity in schools respectively (Partido Social Liberal). Similar to the PSL, the Social Christian Party mainly adopts a pro-free-market vision which advocates for liberalism. The Brazilian Labor Renewal Party (BLRP) is most known for its vehement homophobia and some supposed links with neo-Nazi and neofascist organizations. The party’s leader and presidential candidate, Levy Fidelix, in a debate during the 2014 Brazil general election mentioned that homosexuals “need psychological care” and were better kept “well away from [the rest of] us.” (Watts). The Patriota (PATRI) has an anti-communist stance which embraces economic liberalism, however, opposes foreign interference (Eboli). Moreover, it has a distinct Christian centered dogma which condemns racism based on the inclusion of Christians from various racial backgrounds in their group, however, opposes integration with non-Christians (mostly Muslims and atheists) (Tolotti).
I would like to hone in on a dynamic within the far-right which is particularly insidious, and that is its connection with the police. The police have always been a fertile recruiting ground for the far-right. The role that the police play in western capitalist states, particularly settler-colonial states, gives way to racial dynamics that are exploited by fascists everywhere. Additionally, the police are trained, have power within society, and due to recruiting tactics tend to be within a similar demographic makeup to most far-right organizers: middle class, racist, white, male. It is because of these factors, and more, that the police have been a bastion of far-right organizing for years. This is echoed particularly dangerously in Brazil. Brazil had a neo-fascist military dictatorship between 1964-1985. When the dictatorship fell, many military and police personnel remained, and they harbor with them immensely far-right views. In the case of current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, that includes a vocal support for the days of the junta. There are reactionary cops everywhere, it is part of the job, but in Brazil they have organized in most major cities into gangs which provide logistical support both legal and otherwise to far right politicians and criminals. These organizations engage in political activism, and also outright criminal activity. I would like to hone in on a particularly traumatic example of how dangerous these organizations are, and that is the murder of Rio city councilor and socialist activist Marielle Franco. Franco was an afro-Brazilian, queer, socialist activist and politician, who spoke out against the deployment of the Brazilian military on citizens, as well as the corrupt nature of the armed forces. Of course, she found herself the bugbear of Brazilian fascists. In March of 2018, Franco and her driver were murdered in broad daylight by gunfire. The ammunition was purchased by the Rio police, and soon two men were arrested for her murder. They were both “former” policemen, members of the military regime, with close personal connections to the Bolsonaro family. The wife and daughter of one of the murderers were on the Bolsonaro campaign payroll, one man was neighbors and reportedly close personal friends with the Bolsonaro family, and both men received commendations by Jair Bolsonaro’s son. These two men are allegedly connected to a far right crime syndicate within the armed forces in Rio, as appears to be the pattern. This organization appears to engage in everything from drug dealing to political assassinations. This dynamic, the police being the real engine of fascist organizing, is one we would do well to remember. There has been considerable reporting regarding American police and their affinity for right-wing activism, as well as the historical ties between fascist movements and the police in their countries.
In addition to the links between the far-right and police militias, there are far-right extremist groups in brazil that fit the more traditional model of extremist right-wing violence. However, there is a dearth of information available online about their operation. I would posit several reasons for this lack of information. First, the typical underground, uncentralized nature of these groups provides an obstacle towards linking these groups with the crimes they commit. Secondly, the language barrier limits the amount of reporting on these issues that is available in English. Third, the support of the PSL towards police militias makes the existence of these underground extremist groups redundant in a sense, as the areas which would otherwise provide the greatest support towards these groups are instead dominated by police gangs and radicalized individuals may find it easier to enact their violent ideology working through these gangs instead of skinhead or other racist groups. Nevertheless, there are still several far-right groups active in Brazil. Racist skinhead groups are most concentrated in the city of Sao Paulo, with an estimated over 1,000 active skinheads in the city. Carecas do Suburbio (Skinheads of the suburbs) is active in bars in the eastern part of the city and is noted for its ultra-nationalism and anti-gay ideology. Carecas do ABC, named for the three industrial suburbs it is active in, directs its violence towards LGBT people, Jewish people, and afro-brazillian immigrants from Brazil’s northeast. These two skinhead groups are connected to the integralist ideology, a version of fascism more closer to Italian fascism than Nazism, and thus less overtly white supremacist. There do exist, however, avowedly neo-nazi groups, including White Power, which advocates for the secession of the country’s more prosperous southeast as a Jewish-free state. Connected to this idea, in 2009 Brazil’s federal police thwarted an attempted attack by the group Neuland on two synagogues in Porto Alegre; the group’s name is a reference to their secessionist goals. The prior mentioned skinhead groups, among others, have been connected to a variety of attacks, including beatings and murders of members of minority groups but I have not been able to find a source compiling these individual incidents, and there are undoubtedly more attacks they have perpetrated but that have not been linked back to them. Skinheads in Brazil have been active in the punk music scene, forming bands with particular inspiration from Oi! Bands like Skrewdriver. These skinhead groups are now active on the internet; for example, Carecas do ABC uses facebook to advertise its events, including Oi!ktoberfest. Overall, these fascist and white supremacist groups are most prevalent in the southeast and are less of an issue nationally than far-right activity in connection with police militias.
The far-right in Brazil has had global ties dating back to before Bolsonaro’s election. Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Jair Bolsonaro, met with white supremacist hero Steve Bannon during Brazil’s 2018 election cycle and traveled to Italy and Hungary to meet with respective far-right leaders Salvini and Orban. President Bolsonaro’s regime has also been heavily influenced by Olavo de Carvahlo, a Brazillian currently living in Virginia who also has ties with Bannon and was behind the appointment of the fundamentalist Christian Ernesto Araujo as foreign minister (Garcia). As foreign minister, Araujo withdrew Brazil alongside the United States from the UN Migrations Accord, aligned with the conservative governments of the United States and Israel, and sent representatives to a meeting of climate change deniers in the United States (Garcia). President Bolsonaro himself has close ties with Donald Trump. In March, the two presidents met and promised to work together to oppose socialism, specifically in Venezuela (Crabtree). National Security advisor John Bolton called the meeting a “historic opportunity,” and Bolsonaro said that the two countries would “stand side by side in their efforts to ensure liberties and respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God our creator against the greater ideology or the politically correct attitudes and against fake news” (Phillips). These references to traditional family values and political correctness are some of the calling cards of the far-right, and the “fake news” quote takes a page right out of Trump’s playbook. As a result of this meeting, Trump designated Brazil a “non-NATO major ally,” giving them the ability to purchase U.S. equipment and technology, and giving the U.S. its first far-right ally in Latin America. Bolsonaro’s far-right regime has been bolstered by its relationships with powerful American conservatives like Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.
The alternative right (alt-right) is an active far-right group operating in America. It is not so much a party since it lacks formal organization. However, it serves as a political medium for those who share far-right beliefs (including but not limited to white-supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, extreme nationalism, Islamophobia, etc.). The closest form of organization is the National Party Institute run by Richard Spencer which serves as far-right think tank/lobbying group promoting the alt-right The alt-right is most active on the internet, which allows several far-right individuals to compound their ideas while maintaining a shroud of anonymity. This makes it difficult to concretely identify this group since the interests of white supremacists, neo-fascists, and other far-right groups alike can conglomerate their thoughts under the alt-right umbrella. 1 The online-targets of the alt-right are the impressionable youth as they are constantly exposed to the internet and subject to far-right radicalization. Seeding the youth with alt-right ideology not only ensures loyal and enduring membership but also facilitates diffusion of their ideas with a generation well versed in online navigation.
The alt-Right has various formats to disseminate their message, including the use of terrorism to further their agenda and spread their ideology. The most famous act of terror from the alt-right is the Unite the Right rally that was held in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11th and 12th in 2016. 2 This event saw the gathering and march of hundreds of alt-right supporters, many of which carried tiki torches. This event started non-violent but quickly turned deadly when an alt-right supporter deliberately ran his car into a crowd of alt-right protesters leaving the rally. 3 This crash left 1 dead and 19 injured and showed the violence that the alt-right was capable of committing against counter-protesters and innocent people. Since this rally, there has been numerous alt-right attacks leaving dozens of people dead. Two of the more prominent attacks of terror from the alt-right are the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting and the El Paso Shooting. While these attacks were committed by a single person, it is still important to realize the influence of the alt-right in the inspiration of these attacks and to count these attackers as a part of the alt-right movement. The first of these attacks, the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, left 11 worshipers dead and was perpetrated by a man who was later connected to an anti-Jewish manifesto. 4 Before committing the shooting, the man tweeted, “HIAS [a Jewish nonprofit] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in. 5 ” These tweet shows blatant anti-Semitic views and also alludes to other alt-right views like the great replacement and the New World Order. Early the next year, the El Paso Shooting left another 22 innocent people dead after an alt-right supporter attacked a Walmart in El Paso, a city containing around 80% Latino population. 6 The shooter was linked to a screed on an 8chan that ranted about racial mixing and Latino immigration into Texas. It also pointed toward the alt-right theory the Great Replacement and the Christchurch shooting as a motive for the attack. These acts of terror show the true danger of the alt-right as a violent group of individuals who are willing to take out their anger with the world on innocent people.
Whilst the United States has an unprecedented amount of far-right and extreme- right groups, the alt-right is influenced primarily by European far-right movements. The ideology that that their terror comes from stems from is loosely based on that of the Europeans. The alt-right is largely representative of a break from previous American racist movements, such as the Klu Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation. Instead of using this established right as a basis for their movement, they instead look towards the European far-right for their ideas and strategies. In terms of their identity, many in the alt-right claim themselves as Identitarians, which originated in France from the Bloc Identitaire and later the youth section, Generation Identitaire. 7 The groups’ racism and intolerance is justified by their “mission” to preserve the ethnic and cultural origins of their countries. In the case of the alt-right, this is the white European- American culture. The alt-right generally appears to favor the ideas of the French New Right and their inclement towards a break with establishment conservative in favor of anarcho-capitalism. 8 Whilst it’s clear that are somewhat influenced by Hitler’s Nazis, it’s also clear that the alt-right get significant inspiration from the French far-right. Whilst they both attack “baby boomers” for different reasons, they both accuse older conservatives of selling out their respective countries to foreigners. Also, the alt-right was the first to acknowledge the French group ENR and their ideology. The ENR originated in France in the 1960s and were heavily influenced by German conservative revolutionary writers. They favor foregoing overt racism and instead adopted a policy of excluding groups based on a perceived threat to their cohesion and continuity. The ENR rejects American conservatism, capitalism and the perceived American international hegemony around the world, which appealed to the sentiments of the alt-right. As well as being influenced by the ENR’s publications and ideology, the alt-right also uses activism tactics from Europe. After the disaster of the alt-right rally in Charlottesville in 2016, they adopted the European tactic of “flash mobs.” Instead of announcing their movements and intentions, the alt-right would rapidly assemble, declare their message and disperse before counter-revolutionaries could mobilize in opposition. The alt-right also influenced the European far-right as they adopted the American tactic of online trolling, which works effectively for the alt-right especially. Richard Spencer, the leader of the alt-right, compares his white nationalist movement for a separatist state to that of the Zionist calls for a Jewish state. The alt-right also looks favorably on international leaders such as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad. Spencer believes Putin is the “most powerful white power in the world” and that Assad is a heroic figure due to his stand against rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War.
The majority of South Africa’s history since 1945 involves Afrikaner Nationalists and Apartheid. Inspired by the Nazi’s, several far-right Afrikaner groups were founded in South Africa and gained strengh during the early years of the war. In 1948, the National Party took power after uniting the Afrikaner far-right under one party. Groups like the AWB sought a white only state, and thought the National Party was not extreme enough, but knew the only way to get power would be to support the National Party. The National Party went on to implement the Apartheid system which was essentially instituionalized racial segreation, and has become a model of an ideal society for many far-right white supremacists around the world. Parties like the African National Congress fought against the National Party, which often led to violence. It was not until 1994 that South Africa truly became free when Nelson Mandela was elected president. However, the effects of Apartheid can still be seen all over South Africa as the majority of black people still live in poverty. In recent years, many white South Africans have begun to feel that their race is being threatened, with some even preparing for a full on war. While white people, and more specifically, Afrikaners make up a very small percentage of South Africa’s population, they still have power and Afrikaner Nationalism is on the rise once again.
Despite Apartheid ending over 20 years ago, white nationalism still has a prescence in South African politics. White Afrikaners are a minority in South Africa, and many of them feel threatened. Since the end of Apartheid, the ANC (African National Congress) has controlled South Africa, but in recent years the party has become increasingly corrupt and no longer represents the same ideals that it did under Nelson Mandela. In response to these issues, white Nationalism is slowly creeping its way back into mainstream politics. The Freedom Front Plus Party is the most recent white nationalist party in South Africa to see some success in an election. The party gains support from Afrikaners by creating an idea that Afrikaners are being threatened directly by the ANC who blame white South African’s for their problems and say that the Afrikaners stole all the land from the black people during Apartheid. In the 2019 election, they vocally advocated against black economic empowerment and employment equity, as well as criticized the plan to redistribute land in South Africa without compensation (Dirk Kotze). Overall, the party is a right-wing populist party that strongly believes in the idea of Afrikaner nationalism, economic liberalism, and social and national conservatism. Like many other far right groups, the Freedom Front Plus also has a youth group where they “educate” young white South Africans on the issues facing them. While the AWB still exists, they have been quieter in recent years as they have established a small white only town known as Orania. While they have not been very active politically, they are still a fairly significant group. With the recent killing of white farmers around South Africa, the AWB has been seeking help from other countries, including Russia (Benita Van Eyssen). They still represent a neo-nazi, white supremacist platform, but choose to rather live in isolation now.
In addition to this “white” far-right, there is also a smaller black far-right in South Africa. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was initially created to focus primarily on the interests of the Zulu people. The group soon became an opposition to the ANC, but it never grew nearly as large. Nearing the end of Apartheid, and just after, there was a lot of black on black violence between Zulu IFP members and non-Zulu ANC members. Their main policies are anti-communism, federalism, economic liberalism, and most importantly, Zulu nationalism. The party is becoming increasingly violent due to the large amounts of migrants entering South Africa and nothing being done to stop them. In addition to this, the party has said that they aim to end the AIDS crisis in South Africa, deal with the unemployment and poverty rates, and reduce the ANC’s power (SAHO).
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema. While the EFF represents the far left, their actions seem closer to the far-right. They believe in communism and Marxism, and are considered to be a left-wing socialist party. Members all wear red berets and are predominantly black males (SAHO). They are a very vocal party and are growing at a fast rate, which may eventually pose a threat to the far-right, white parties. No one really knows what the EFF is capable of, but Malema has made comments on multiple occasions that he would like to see the roles in South Africa reversed where white people become the domestic workers and black people have the power. He does not think the Afrikaners should be sent away, but rather the whites should “share the cake” (Malema, IOL). Many believe that Malema might be responsible for the gangs murdering white farmers, but he has not clearly denied or confirmed the allegations.
There is an interesting dynamic in South Africa as “[they have a] policy of tolerance and non-interference in the affairs of other nations which makes it everybody’s friend and a non-target…but…such a position could make the country a hub for terrorist groups to find sanctuary” (Isilow). The AWB was mentioned previously as a political party with minor success, however it also functions as a notable extremist group that has been present since 1973. They have been known to become violent in cases such as the Battle of Ventersdorp as well as smaller scale incidents such as murders and threats of journalists as well as members of the opposition.
The Suidlanders are another extremist group in South Africa that boasts large numbers and poses a great threat. They are “white nationalists prepping for a genocide doomsday in the “rainbow nation (a term coined by Nelson Mandela)” (Bartlett). In simpler terms, they are a group of whites fearing the impending “white genocide” as they see it. So, they are prepared with bunkers full of emergency supplies, weapons, and connections with other nations that they hope will prove beneficial when needed. They hope that all of these tools will help them to be ready for what is essentially a race war that they see on the horizon in which they fear that the black majority will turn on them to capture their land. The Suidlanders contend that this race war has already begun, and that they are simply “a civil defence group who are only escaping imminent slaughter, but are prepared to fight and die doing so” (Roche). They plead with mainstream media worldwide in the hopes of spreading their cause, and have been known to be violent in cases of vigilante justice and small gang violence.
A newer trend of extremism in South Africa is the recruitment of men and women to Daesh (aka ISIS.) This is a group originally out of Syria and Iraq with the goal of returning to the original state of Islam as opposed to the “corrupted” version as they see it today. There is a bit of debate as to whether or not the presence of Daesh in South Africa is notable at this point as some say that “South African Muslims don’t support ISIS (Daesh) at all. What we are hearing is a mere speculation” (Isilow). On the other hand though, there are some incidents that have happened in recent years that seem to tell a different story. In Durban, South Africa, 11 men were recently accused of attacking a Shia Mosque. In addition, they were accused of placing bombs in a shopping mall, and of being inspired by Daesh teachings (Isilow). Moreover, “in 2016, a young girl from Cape Town was taken off a flight heading to Turkey where she was going to transit to Syria and join the group (Daesh)” (Els). These two specific examples along with a few other incidents of stabbings or the placement of bombs do seem to show a potential threat to South Africa by an extremist group, though it may not be very widespread yet.
Global Influence: AWB receives most of its funding and support from within the group as members fundraise and often donate to the cause itself. The Suidlanders actually get a lot of support from other civilized countries, and more specifically, they happen to see President Trump as a great ally. Trump has tweeted about the issues that this group fears while vowing to look into the “the large scale killing of farmers” (MaKenzie and Swails). “Similarly, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton wanted to expedite visas for “persecuted” white South African farmers” (MaKenzie and Swails). They have also been given support from Russia as they have been told that white South African people will be offered sanctuary there in the case of a “white genocide.” Also, Roche, a leader of the Suidlanders, has traveled to the U.S. in order to lobby support, and has even met with Richard Spencer (a famous white nationalist,) and David Duke (the notorious leader of the Ku Klux Klan.) Financially speaking, they function similarly to AWB as most of their funds come from inside the group. Both AWB and the Suidilanders have been greatly influenced by the days of apartheid as it is essential to their views. Without apartheid, they may not have had any instances of this type of segregation to look to as an “ideal” for the future. Daesh (or ISIS as it may be better known) has grown to reach essentially every corner of the globe. They recruit and receive support worldwide as people travel from far away to train with Daesh leaders and carry out their bidding, even at the cost of their own lives at times. However, they are not supported by any civilized countries, and therefore do not seem to have allies in the way that the Suidilanders do.