Turner Web Threat
NEW JERSEY JEWISH NEWS
on alert after Web site threat
by Robert Wiener
NJJN Staff Writer
The Anti-Defamation League urged Jewish institutions in New Jersey to ramp up security measures after a racist Web site discussed using yeshivas as bomb targets.
The threats appeared on a Web site run by Hal Turner, a North Bergen man who until last year broadcast a white supremacist radio program on shortwave radio and the Internet. When Turner recently suggested that readers of his Web site’s chat room begin “drawing up lists of Jewish Yeshivas here in the United States,” it led to a discussion in which contributors named specific schools and neighborhoods and urged killing yeshiva students.
“With winter weather comes winter coats,” wrote someone called “A-Bomb.” “With winter coats comes concealed weapons. With concealed weapons comes dead yeshiva students.”
The New Jersey region of the ADL, whose national office monitors hate groups, notified the New Jersey Office of Counterterrorism, the FBI, and local police departments as well as synagogues, schools, and Jewish community relations committees, said Etzion Neuer, ADL’s regional director in New Jersey.
“It is unclear whether or not the threat is constitutionally protected free speech,” said Neuer, “but we just err on the side of caution.”
Although an ADL report said Turner has a record of “explicitly encouraging extreme violence against Jews, other minorities, and government officials,” Neuer acknowledged that “Turner himself does not have any history of violence.” Nevertheless, Neuer said, his “concern is less with Turner than with the lone wolf phenomenon.”
“We only have to go back to the incident in the Los Angeles JCC several years ago,” said Neuer, referring to the August 1999 attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills. Buford Furrow, a member of the racist Aryan Nation, was given a life sentence for killing a postal worker and wounding five people in the shooting spree.
“For most people the watchword here is vigilance,” Neuer said, “and not just around the High Holy Days. This really goes to the message that we try to encourage in Jewish communal institutions and all institutions, for that matter: that people have to be careful and if you see something, to say something. It means having a security plan in place.”
Neuer said the yeshivas in Lakewood — the heavily Orthodox town in southern New Jersey specifically mentioned in one of the chat room posts — and other parts of the state “are covering their bases. They took the threat seriously, and they are working very closely with law enforcement for the safety and security of their constituents.”
Neuer said the ADL is sensitive to laws protecting free speech but that it “cannot ignore expressions of hate that cross the line until they become real security concerns. We acknowledge the right of someone as despicable as Turner and his ilk to say what they want to about anybody. But we would insist on that same right to call that filth what it is.”
Contributors to the chat room referred specifically to the “numerous shules” in the heavily Orthodox community of Lakewood, and to Hillel Yeshiva High School in Monmouth County.
Stanley Stone, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, said, “No threats to institutions in Central Jersey have come to us through official channels. But this time of year we do as we always do by sending out security reminders to the local synagogues and Jewish agencies. I think in this day and age, every threat has to be dealt with by being prepared. You can’t prevent something from happening, but we always remind everyone to keep their guard up.”
Attempts to contact Turner by telephone and to visit his North Bergen apartment were unsuccessful.
Robert Wiener can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.