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The Jewish Defense Organization is a Jewish nationalist organization in the United States. It is militantly rightwing in its stance on Israeli defense and foreign policy issues and in its support for settlers on the West Bank, but its positions on issues in the United States are more nuanced and it has criticized both rightwing and leftwing manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism with equal rhetorical fervor (see [] and [] for attacks on Pat Buchanan and Ramsey, Clark respectively) . It takes no stance on socioeconomic and family values issues, and it has worked with both liberals and conservatives on problems involving bigotry (there is usually a contingent of aging Yippies at its anti-Nazi rallies). Its web site sometimes displays flashes of a hip political wit, as when the home page featured a picture earlier this year of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg standing beside Lenora Fulani--a close associate of reputed psychotherapy cult leader Fred Newman--with the caption, "Two social therapy patients looking 'thrilled' for the camera". The reference was to the mayor's political alliance with and financial subsidizing of Newman. []
Founded and led by Mordechai Levy, the JDO is a rival offshoot of the Jewish Defense League which was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane. Its differences with Kahanist groups are partly a result of personality clashes between leaders. The JDO website describes the Kahanist websites as examples of "Racist Kahanism," although the JDO's views on retaining and expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied territories differ little from those of the Kahanists. The JDO does avoid the types of racial slurs characteristic of Kahanist groups, however, and has never advocated mass expulsions of Arabs from Israel or Israeli occupied territories.
The late Prof. Howard Adelson (1925-2003), a leading Zionist of the Right and a longtime columnist for the Brooklyn-based Jewish Press, often cooperated with the JDO, especially on issues relating to campus anti-Semitism.
They have engaged in violent altercations with Neo-Nazis and Skinheads in Las Vegas and other cities ("Call to Arms Overreach," editorial, Las Vegas Review, March 29, 1989), and have demonstrated without incident against Louis Farrakhan in New York City ([]; also see "Protesting the Million Man March," King's Courier, Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 23, 1995). They often give their demonstrations pseudo-military names such as "Operation Klan Kicker" or "Operation Nazi Kicker." [] [] In 2004, they gained much media attention after holding rallies at an apartment house on Manhattan's Upper West Side where a neo-Nazi activist and aggressive Holocaust denier ran his propaganda operation. (Julie Satow, "Protestors Call for Eviction of Holocaust Revisionist," New York Sun, Oct. 25, 2004.) They have also called for boycotts on occasion, as against a record company that was promoting a rap album containing anti-Semitic lyrics; and have had success in pressuring hotels and other public facilities to cancel meetings sponsored by bigots. (Seamus McGraw, "For Ex-Klansman David Duke No Room Available in Virginia," Forward, Feb. 28, 2003.)
In early 2004, the JDO waged a phone-in campaign to pressure a Florida company to remove billboard messages sponsored by the National Alliance, an organization widely regarded as neo-Nazi (Jacob Ogles, "Neo-Nazis' Billboard to Come Down," Orlando Sentinel, Jan. 15, 2004; see []).
Among the targets of their demonstrations and agitation have been Abe Foxman, national director of the ADL, whom they have repeatedly excoriated (calling him "Dishonest Abe") for taking money from fugitive financier Marc Rich to help Rich win a 2001 pardon from President Bill Clinton. [] Among other Jewish individuals who have been harshly criticized by the JDO for alleged "appeasement" (or worse) are the former Columbia University campus rabbi, Charles Sheer [], and pro-Palestinian activist Adam Shapiro [].
The JDO also has demonstrated at the homes of American Civil Liberties Union leaders such as Norman Siegel to protest their support for the right of Ku Klux Klan members to march in New York City. (Heidi Kingston, "The Storming of Norman," Guardian (UK), Feb. 7, 2000.)
Mordechai Levy is the founder and current leader of the JDO. Levy runs Camp Jabotinsky which provides self-defense and gun training for young Jews at a facility in the Catskills. Levy is an avid follower of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, after whom the camp is named, and often repeats Jabotinsky's motto: better to know how to shoot and not need to, than to need to and not know how. []
Levy was involved in an armed altercation with the late former Jewish Defense League national chairman Irv Rubin and is prohibited from using guns. He is thus no longer directly involved in gun training himself at Camp Jabotinsky. He has also been accused of assaulting an attendee of the camp after discovering that the latter was playing around with lighter fluid and apparently trying to set fire to a hotel.
In 1989, Levy traveled to New Orleans in an attempt to encourage a community effort to stop David Duke, the former Klan leader, from being elected to the state legislature. (Kim Chatelain, "Militant Jewish Leader Calls Duke a Small Time Hitler," New Orleans Times-Picayune, Feb. 9, 1989.) When Duke was elected, Jewish communal leaders, who had remained silent in the face of the threat, at first tried to blame it on a backlash from Levy's tiny rally (which in fact had received considerable television coverage). But as Duke's support continued to grow, Jewish leaders and a multiracial coalition finally started doing much of what Levy had called for, and Duke was defeated in attempts to win election as governor and U.S. senator.
In 1980-84, Levy infiltrated the Lyndon LaRouche organization on a part-time basis as a security consultant. He provided valuable information to journalists and law enforcement that helped to eventually bring about the criminal convictions of LaRouche and several of his followers. He also ran a one-man disinformation campaign that convinced at least some of LaRouche's security staffers of vast plots against their leader. An amusing account of Levy's experiences with the LaRouchians is contained on pp. 243-251 of Dennis King's "Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism."
The LaRouchians ruefully concluded in 1984, after Levy had gone public against them, that he had been an "agent of chaos" (a phrase taken, appropriately, from the title of Norman Spinrad's classic science fiction novel about weird, anarchic conspirators).
Levy has provided his own account of his anti-LaRouche activities at [].