Hate Bikers in Alabama; Nate Salant on Shalit's Release

HATE BIKERS IN ALABAMA

The following is from the website of the Anti-Defamation League. ADL, wich monitors and combats anti-Semitism, is one of the 32 agencies and programs funded by The Birmingham Jewish Federation Annual Campaign.

Growing connections, overlapping cultures and increasing crossover between outlaw motorcycle gangs and white supremacist groups have created a disturbing new trend -- the formation of explicitly white supremacist biker gangs.

In a new report, Bigots on Bikes: The Growing Links between White Supremacists and Biker Gangs, ADL found that increased social and criminal connections between the two movements have led to the formation of these gangs, which are either independently operated or subsidiaries of larger white supremacist groups.

The most common and visually obvious pathways between the two groups can be found in their shared use of symbols from Nazi Germany, such as swastikas, SS lightning bolts and Nazi war eagles. The groups also share a similar language, especially when discussing brotherhood and loyalty, as well as similar rituals, especially those related to recruitment and orientation.

Thus, as subcultural overlaps between the two movements have increased, actual connections between them have also increased, manifesting themselves both in crossover membership as well as in new biker groups that are explicitly white supremacist.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

"Though they are still small, the appearance of these groups is cause for concern," said Deborah Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "The white supremacist movement and the outlaw biker movement both engage in considerable violence and criminal activity. The more people from the two movements who cooperate and join forces, the more dangerous both movements can become."

These white supremacist biker gangs are primarily located in the Sunbelt Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona and California) and the Midwest (Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri). The following are Alabama-related examples of these gangs:

-- Southern Brotherhood Motorcycle Club: This gang is a subgroup of the Southern Brotherhood, which is the largest white supremacist prison gang in Alabama. Formed in 1995, members hold their own events as well as attend biker rallies in Alabama. They also claim members in Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Indiana and Texas.

-- Confederate Cavalry Corps MC: This Alabama-based gang was founded in 2009 and its members claim it is the "premier Confederate heritage motorcycle club" focused on events and monuments that support the Confederate States and Flag. It also has members in Missouri and Mississippi.

***

In addition to funding ADL, The Birmingham Jewish Federation works with ADL to share information with local law enforcement authorities regarding potential threats to Jews and others. Hate groups in our state was one of the topics discussed during a recent visit by BJF volunteer leaders and staff to ADL's regional office in Atlanta.

SHALIT SAGA REMINDS READER OF TALMUD STORY

shalittvinterview

The following was written by Update contributor Nate Salant. Nate, a member of our Birmingham Jewish community, is commissioner of the Gulf South Conference, a Birmingham-based athletic league. He frequently writes about Jewish issues.

By Nate Salant

Centuries ago, a very famous rabbi was seized as a hostage by the ruler of an Austrian town and held for a ransom that would have bankrupted the entire Jewish community, yet the community was ready to raise the money to obtain his release.

When the rabbi's students came to see him in prison, and told him that the ransom was being raised, he ordered them not to allow it. When the Jewish community's leaders came to see him and ask why, he told them it was not permitted because paying an unreasonable ransom was prohibited by the Talmud. The reason was obvious: it you pay it once, it becomes the standard and encourages this ruler and others to do the same thing again and again.

As a Jew who travels outside of the US on occasion, I am very worried about Israel's decision to pay what I believe was an outrageous price for Gilad Shalit's release. I make that statement knowing full well the pain Shalit's family experienced these past five years -- I visited their tent outside the Israeli Prime Minister's Office repeatedly during my trips to Israel and agonized with them. However, I truly fear the consequences of the deal, especially because Hamas and others have already declared their intent to seize others until all Palestinians in Israeli jails are released.

It is particularly onerous because Hamas not only calls for the destruction of Israel, but the killing of Jews everywhere -- that's right, read the organization's charter and understand exactly why Israel should not negotiate with Hamas, and why it is a disgrace for any country in the world to even meet with Hamas. Given that policy, what happens when Hamas kidnaps Jews in other countries?

And there's an even worse scenario to consider: Hamas kidnaps someone who is not Jewish, perhaps even someone who is openly anti-Israel, and demands 1,000 prisoners in return for that person's release. Is anyone naive enough to believe that the Norways and Swedens of the world will stand up to Hamas? There's no doubt they'll put all sorts of pressure on Israel to release the prisoners.

This leads to more questions:

1) If Israel knew where Shalit was, and decided that a rescue mission was impossible, then why didn't it take the issue to the UN Security Council and demand his release? Unlike other issues, kidnapping and holding someone for ransom is universally recognized as unacceptable and also grounds for a military rescue.

2) Again assuming that Israel knew Shalit was in Gaza, and given the fact that kidnapping an Israeli soldier who was in uniform and on the Israeli side of the border is an act of war, why didn't Israel impose a land blockade of Gaza until such time as Shalit was released?

3) Another angle would have been to demand Shalit's immediate release or Israel would change its laws to permit capital punishment for acts of terrorism and conspiracies to commit terrorist acts.

Getting back to the rabbi in Austria...there was no happy ending. The ruler never released him and he died in prison; in fact, he did not release the rabbi's body for burial for 13 years, as horrible an outcome as there could ever be. But the ruler also never tried to hold any Jews hostage again, nor did anyone else in the Austria-Hungarian Empire. And, as the story goes, the ruler was later assassinated and the Austria-Hungarian Empire collapsed.

Photo is of Gilad Shalit being interviewed on Egyptian TV in connection with his release.