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The shooter had connections with a radical group that promotes violence against white people and Jews.
On Thursday night, July 7, 2016, Micah Johnson, a 25 year old veteran who served in Afghanistan, opened fire at a Dallas protest, aiming his guns on white policemen guarding the scene. He killed five officers and wounded six others before being killed by a robot-delivered bomb.
Johnson proclaimed his murderous rampage “payback” for police brutality, and authorities rushed to analyze what had radicalized the veteran – and whether he had accomplices in planning his massacre. His social media posts provided a clue: Johnson had connections with an extremist group, the National Black Panther Party (NBPP), that promotes violence against white people – and Jews.
NBPP was founded in Dallas in 1989 by one-time Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad, who once boasted “Never will I say I am not an anti-Semite”. The group has since spread across the United States; it is particularly active along the East Coast. Its stance on Jews and Israelis is clear – and chilling.
“Kill every (expletive) Zionist in Israel! (Expletive) little babies, (expletive) old ladies. Blow up Zionist supermarkets!” screamed Malik Zulu Shabazz, the NBPP’s national chairman, as the hate group protested in front of B'nai B'rith International headquarters in Washington, DC in 2002.
NBPP blames Jews for the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, and has accused Jews of controlling the slave trade. The Anti-Defamation League calls NBPP “the largest organized anti-Semitic and racist Black militant group in America”. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the organization as an extremist hate group and wrote the following on its blog:
NBPP was formed in Dallas, and its leaders have long expressed virulently anti-white and anti-Semitic opinions. Its leaders have blamed Jews for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and for the slave trade. The late former party chairman Khalid Abdul Muhammad once said, ‘There are no good crackers, and if you find one, kill him before he changes.’ A document on the NBPP website titled “The Nationalist Manifesto” claims that white men have a secret plan to commit genocide against the non-white races. It also refers to black people who condone mixed-race relationships as the ‘modern day Custodians [sic] of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’
Few Jews have heard of this hate group. While NBPP was able to muster a demonstration of 6,000 when it was first formed, recent rallies have drawn barely 100 participants. Its very outlandishness – promoting conspiracy theories, making wild claims – might have made NBPP seem too strange and extreme to ever attract many acolytes. The same might be said of other fringe anti-Semitic groups.
The massacre in Dallas was aimed at white police officers. But it also reminds us of the dangers of ignoring hate-filled groups who promise to cause harm, no matter how fringe-like they might seem.
In fact, anti-Semitic anti-Israel attitudes have been increasing in recent years – and much of that increase has occurred in some surprising quarters.
One 2002 poll by the ADL found that fully 17% of Americans harbor hard-core anti-Semitic beliefs – and that number is increasing. Over a third (35%) of both Hispanic and African-American respondents reported having strongly anti-Semitic views. Less-educated people were more likely to repeat anti-Semitic sentiments than more highly-educated respondents.
The poll also revealed that Americans with anti-Semitic views are increasingly likely to report anti-Israel feelings. "We have said that anti-Israel feelings are linked to anti-Semitism, and the responses from Americans in this poll make this connection clear," concluded then-ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. "Anti-Israel sentiments are used in this country to fuel, legitimize and rationalize anti-Semitism."
Levels of anti-Semitism have continued to rise. The ADL noted in 2016 that the anti-Semitic attacks increased “dramatically” in 2015, forming a tragic trend of increased anti-Jewish and anti-Israel discourse.
In America today, we are mourning our dead. At the same time, we in the Jewish community ought to remember that individuals and groups who spew hatred so often turn their ire on Jews as well. The threat that the Dallas police officers faced on July 7, 2016 is tragically one that America’s Jews face too.