Iran Condemns Its Soccer Players for Match with Israeli Team

By: apnews.com

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s soccer federation condemned two Iranians who play for a Greek team on Friday for participating in a match against an Israeli team, Iranian media reported.

The federation “strongly condemns” the participation of Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi in a match for Greece’s Panionios against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv a day earlier in Greece, it said in a statement reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.

On its Farsi-language Twitter account, Israel’s foreign ministry praised the players for ignoring what is considered a taboo in Iran by playing against the Israelis. Maccabi won the UEFA Europa League match 1-0.

Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and traditionally, Iranian athletes refrain from playing Israelis. Iran’s government usually rewards such behavior.

The federation said it is reviewing the case and will make a final decision after speaking with both players who in the past have also played for the national soccer team. Fars reported that the two may now be banned from playing on that team again.

At a previous match against Maccabi in Tel Aviv, both refused to play.

The last competition between Iranian and Israeli sportsmen on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine. From time to time, Iranian players who play for foreign teams have played Israeli teams.

In February, a teenage Iranian chess player angered authorities when he played, as an individual, against an Israeli competitor in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.

Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.

US Academic Group Overwhelmingly Rejects BDS

By: Benjamin Weinthal; jpost.com

“The boycotters, whose entire identities revolve around boycotting Israeli Jews, cannot let go of the issue and seek to insert it into unrelated organizations.”

BDS. (photo credit:WIKIPEDIA)

Academics from the elite Modern Language Association (MLA) voted by a significant margin on Wednesday to reject a boycott of Israeli universities.

MLA members voted 1,954 to 885 to “refrain from endorsing the boycott” of Israeli academic institutions advocated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. MLA has a total of 18,279 eligible voters and 1,828 votes were required to ratify the resolution, wrote Anna Chang on the MLA website blog.

The resolution’s anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) language stated: “Whereas endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel contradicts the MLA’s purpose to promote teaching and research on language and literature; Whereas the boycott’s prohibition of the evaluation of work of individual Israeli scholars conflicts with Resolution 2002-1, which condemns boycotts against scholars; and Whereas endorsing the boycott could curtail debates with representatives of Israeli universities, such as faculty members, department chairs, and deans, thereby blocking possible dialogue and general scholarly exchange; Be it resolved that the MLA refrain from endorsing the boycott.”

Writing on the website of Legal Insurrection, the Cornell Law professor William A Jacobson, said, “This represents a staggering defeat for the boycotters. MLA has almost 5 times the membership of the American Studies Association, the largest academic group in the US to have adopted academic BDS.” He added, “Needless to say, supporters of the boycott are very unhappy with the vote result and again threatening to engineer mass resignations.”

Jacobson, an expert in BDS who has written extensively on academic BDS, wrote the key takeaways from the MLA row over BDS are: “One lesson is persistence. The key to BDS efforts is to wear good people down. At MLA and elsewhere, the boycott push is a multi-year, ongoing effort.

“Another lesson is to educate people. BDS, as all hate, prevails where propaganda is unchallenged. MMFSR [MLA Members for Scholars’ Rights] members produced fact sheets and other factual information to counter the false narratives and ahistorical arguments of BDS. A third lesson is not to be passive.”

He added, “The boycotters, whose entire identities revolve around boycotting Israeli Jews, cannot let go of the issue and seek to insert it into unrelated organizations.”

The pro-BDS group MLA Members for Justice in Palestine, which advocates within the Modern Language Association for “international solidarity with Palestinians” and the boycott of Israeli academic institutions – tweeted on Wednesday: “Principled resignations and principled continuance both good responses to ratification of anti-boycott res. MLA will support BDS eventually.”

Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told The Jerusalem Post, “MLA’s latest vote rejecting BDS is very encouraging and positive proving that there are those who see the intellectual dishonesty of the BDS movement and how it would have damaged the MLA. Above all it shows that there is an understanding that scholars boycotting other scholars goes against everything a university stands for.”

 

New York Times Unleashes Onslaught of Five Op-Eds Hostile to Israel

By: Ira Stoll; algemeiner.com

The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

When the New York Times opinion page hired Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss, two outspoken Zionist veterans of the Wall Street Journal, a friend of mine warned me that the hires could be a mixed blessing from a pro-Israel perspective.

Now all the anti-Israel editors already at the Times will feel like they can let loose with impunity, because the hiring of Stephens and Weiss provides a ready response to accusations of “bias.” So said my friend.

Or, as I put it back on April 13, writing about Stephens: “Anyone who thinks the Times hiring of him was motivated primarily by a desire to respond to the paper’s pro-Israel critics might want to think again.”

My friend’s warning turned out to be prophetic.

In the weeks since the news of the Stephens and Weiss hires broke, the Times has — as if compensating — unleashed a barrage of op-eds savagely hostile to Israel and Jewish interests. Among them:

  • An op-ed by a Palestinian terrorist, Marwan Barghouti, complaining about conditions in Israeli prisons and likening Israel to South Africa under apartheid. Even the New York Times’ own public editor, Liz Spayd, publicly faulted the Times for initially identifying the author as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian” rather than as a convicted terrorist and murderer.
  • An op-ed piece by a Palestinian lawyer, Raja Shehadeh, complaining about the Israeli checkpoints he must pass through between Ramallah and Ben-Gurion International Airport. “We cannot afford to abandon the struggle and must do what we can to end this occupation,” declared the Times article. It was adapted from Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation, a book that already has also been the basis of both a New York Timesmagazine article and a long essay in the New York Times Book Review. (The book review essay itself was the subject of a Times correction after it falsely accused Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, of publicly calling for Palestinians to be deported to Jordan.)
  • An op-ed by the president of the National Iranian American Council, Trita Parsi, claiming, falsely, that the Iranian nuclear deal has “restrained” Iranian policy on Israel. “Iran’s actions and rhetoric on the Jewish state have shifted remarkably ever since nuclear negotiations began,” the article claimed, inaccurately.
  • An op-ed by the foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, claiming, falsely, that Iran “has been aiding the victims of extremism in Iraq and Syria,” and offering advice to America on how “to avoid the spread of terrorism and militant extremism.” It is breathtaking, coming from the representative of a country that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Mr. Zarif has had at least seven New York Times op-ed pieces since 2003, four of them since April 2015, prompting at least some wry speculation that the Times editors will make him their next op-ed page columnist hire after Stephens.
  • An op-ed by another Palestinian lawyer, Diana Buttu, calling for the disbandment of the Palestinian Authority on the grounds that it “served as a subcontractor for the occupying Israeli military…. to keep Palestinians silent and quash dissent while Israel steals land, demolishes Palestinian homes, and builds and expands settlements.” The op-ed instead calls for a Palestinian leadership that includes Hamas, which she conveniently refers to as a political party rather than a terrorist group. The op-ed calls for Palestinians to “press for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, like those that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.”

Any single one of these op-eds, taken alone, would be totally outrageous and indefensible. The onslaught of all five of them, in six weeks, constitutes an outbreak of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hostility at the Times on a level with the Jewish cemetery desecrations and bomb threat calls against Jewish institutions that the Times blamed on President Donald Trump and treated as front-page news a few months back.

Writing in Vox, David Roberts denounced Stephens as a “cosmopolitan, well-educated, reflexively pro-Israel war hawk.” The Times Cairo bureau chief, Declan Walsh, publicly denounced Stephens on Twitter as “not cool,” falsely accusing him of “ascribing a pathological condition to an entire race of people.”

It’s one thing to see the Stephens hire triggering antisemitic or anti-Israel tropes in other publications. It’s another to see them erupting in the columns of the Times itself. That’s not to blame Stephens, or Weiss, for the reaction. It’s not their fault. Their presence at the Times probably almost certainly nets out positively for the pro-Israel side. But the backlash can’t be ignored. It must be taken into account. Precisely as my friend predicted, it sure has been brutal.

 

Sears to Pull ‘Free Palestine’ Clothing from Site Amid Controversy

By: JTA; jpost.com

The item was pulled amid criticism first published in The Jerusalem Post.

The Free Palestine t-shirt sold by Sears.com.. (photo credit:screenshot)

NEW YORK — Sears says it will remove a line of clothing featuring the slogan “Free Palestine” from its website.

The clothing was offered for sale by a another company, Spreadshirt Collection, and included tank tops, t-shirts and hoodies featuring a variety of pro-Palestinian messages. The clothing was offered for sale through Sears Marketplace, which offers a platform for third-party sellers to offer their wares through websites managed by Sears.

The designs included a clenched fist in the colors of the Palestinian flag and statements opposing the Israeli occupation.

The item was first spotted by Jerusalem Post reader Larry Sherman, who said, “It is unacceptable to de-legitimize the State of Israel.”

When questioned about the issue, a Sears representative told The Jerusalem Post that they were aware of the t-shirt and have escalated the situation. “We will be removing the items soon. Please allow us 24 hours. Thank you for understanding,” he said on Tuesday.

“We do not want our members to be unhappy,” he continued. “This item is sold by a third-party seller via the Sears Marketplace. Given the feedback we’ve received, we are currently evaluating the items in question to determine appropriate action. We will fix it and ensure this is not repeated.”

According to a statement from a Sears spokesman, the apparel was pulled from the site based on feedback the company received.

The statement added that Sears felt it had been “unfairly singled out on this issue,” as similar items are available for purchase from other companies, such as Amazon and Walmart.

Amazon sells some of the exact same items from Spreadshirt, as well as a wide range of other pro-Palestinian merchandise.

The Sears statement notes that the company serves “a broad base of customers around the country and around the world,” and that it has 200 employees in Israel.

Ariane Mandell contributed to this report.

‘Wonder Woman’ Screenings Suspended in Tunisia Amid Opposition to Gal Gadot

By: Reuters; jpost.com

The film is still expected to open this week in Morocco, Egypt, and the Arab Emirates.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (photo credit:FACEBOOK)

After being banned in Lebanon and pulled from a festival in Algeria, global blockbuster “Wonder Woman” is facing a similar fate in Tunisia, where its theatrical release has been suspended ahead of its sneak premiere Wednesday evening.

The superhero movie was set to open in at least two Tunisian theaters on Thursday but was suspended following a lawsuit filed Monday by the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers, which called “Wonder Woman’s” Israel-born lead actress Gal Gadot a “champion Zionist.”

The Tunisian courthouse decided to halt the theatrical release of “Wonder Woman” while it examines the lawsuit, according to local reports.

The film was subsequently removed from the local ticket-booking website tiklik.tn, which serves all Tunisian theaters. Meanwhile, the Facebook page for the sneak premiere Wednesday was also updated with a tag saying “suspendu” (“suspended”). The film was due to play in 3D, with subtitles, and had gathered 237 confirmed guests on the Facebook page.

As in Lebanon, where the film was banned May 31, the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers filed a lawsuit on the grounds that Gadot had publicly praised Israel’s military actions during the 2014 war in Gaza. The group also pointed out that the actress had served in the Israeli army.

“Wonder Woman” was also pulled from a festival in Algiers, where it was supposed to open Sunday during the second edition of Nuits du Cinema, a festival organized to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. But it was unclear whether Gadot’s background was the issue.

But Amine Idjer, head of press at MD Cine, which co-organizes the Algerian festival, said the film was pulled because of “administrative issues linked to exhibition rights.”

A petition to boycott the film in Algeria called “Non! Pas en Algeria” (“No! Not in Algeria”) was launched last week after Lebanon’s ban was announced.

The film is still expected to open this week in Morocco, Egypt, and the Arab Emirates.

 

Yad Vashem to Present President Trump with Unique Personal Artifact

By: Tamara Zieve; jpost.com

A relative of the memento’s owner will be in attendance at Donald Trump’s visit to Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

Ester and Margot Goldstein. (photo credit:YAD VASHEM)

Yad Vashem announced on Sunday that its chairman Avner Shalev will present US President Donald Trump with a replica of a personal album that belonged to Holocaust victim Ester Goldstein, during the president’s visit on Tuesday.

Her album — donated to Yad Vashem by her sister Margot Herschenbaum — contains messages of hope and friendship written by her family and friends. The first entry is from 1937, when Ester was 11 years old, and the final one is dated September 16, 1942, about a month before Ester was deported to Riga, Latvia, where she was subsequently murdered at the age of 16.

Herschenbaum, the sole survivor of her immediate family who was rescued on a Kindertransport to Australia, will attend the presidential event. The album came into her possession after the Holocaust, when her cousin David Werner returned to the Goldstein family home in Berlin, where a neighbor gave him a box of papers that she had kept safe throughout the war. Among the papers was the album, which she later donated to Yad Vashem for safekeeping.

Yad Vashem explained that the album was chosen because “it offers a glimpse into the life of a young girl, that was tragically cut short…. The album also allows us to tell the story of the fate of those who were murdered and survived.”

Shalev will accompany Trump and first lady Melania Trump during the visit, alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as well as Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau.

The visit to the Holocaust memorial has caused a stir in Israel, as it was initially unclear whether it would take place, and then reportedly cut from half an hour to 15 minutes at the request of US officials.

A statement released by Yad Vashem on Sunday noted that “while the president’s visit to Israel is brief, he has chosen to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust by participating in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance.”

Yad Vashem also told The Jerusalem Post that the schedule for official visits to Yad Vashem is not standardized by protocol and that each visit is unique, personalized and directly related to the length of time the official spends in Israel and at Yad Vashem.

Trump will rekindle the eternal flame and lay a wreath on a stone slab under which ashes from extermination camps are buried. A cantor will sing “El Maleh Rachamim,” a Jewish prayer for the souls of the victims of the Holocaust, and Trump will be invited to sign the Yad Vashem guest book.

The nature of Trump’s visit to the memorial is of particular interest in light of the shaky start his administration got off to regarding matters pertaining to the Holocaust.

In his first statement about the Holocaust as president, Trump sparked controversy by omitting any mention of the Jews on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The White House defended its statement, noting that Jews were not the only victims of Nazi slaughter.

Several days later, Yad Vashem put out a statement stressing “to all that the Holocaust was the unprecedented genocide of six million Jews… which sought the annihilation of the Jewish people, its culture and its heritage.”

Last month, Yad Vashem urged White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to visit its website and learn about the Holocaust after he — while discussing a suspected chemical weapon in Syria — said that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.

 

Norway’s Largest Trade Union Calls for Blanket Boycott of Israel

jta.org (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Norway’s largest trade union reaffirmed its support for boycotts of Israel.

The assembly of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions on Friday called for a total boycott of Israel in a nonbonding resolution.

The confederation, known locally as LO, represents over 900,000 unionized workers in the country – more than one quarter of the adult working population. Its delegates voted 193 to 117 in favor of a boycott of the State of Israel.

“Since dialogue and resolutions have had little effect, there must henceforth come an effort to achieve an international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel in order to achieve those objectives,” the resolution read.

In recent years, LO has called to boycott various Israeli institutions, including the Histadrut labor union, and businesses “that profit from the occupation of Palestinian land,” as the organization stated in a 2013 resolution. Virtually all major player in Israel’s industrial and economic sector have dealings with or offices in Israeli settlements, a fact that has contributed to such calls by LO being interpreted as a call for a blanket boycott on the Israeli economy.

A Norwegian government spokesperson distanced the Cabinet from the vote and said it does not represent the official position of Norway. A spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry called the vote “discriminatory.”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende wrote on Twitter: “Norwegian government strongly opposes Norw Labour Union’s decision: #boycott of #Israel. We need more cooperation and dialogue, not boycott.”

LO President Hans-Christian Gabrielsen’s recommended against passing the resolution, according to the news agency Sputnik.

The vote by LO “not only reflects a deep bias against Israel and its active labor movement, but undermines efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in a statement Friday. “A vote in favor of boycotts, divestment and sanctions is a vote against the very legitimacy of the Jewish state.”

Israeli Forces Thwart Palestinian Pipe Bomb Attack at IDF Court in West Bank

By: Ariel Whitman; jpost.com

Initial investigations revealed that he planned to enter the courthouse complex and detonate the explosive devices, targeting security forces inside.

Pipe bomb found near a checkpoint to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, October 16, 2015. (photo credit:POLICE SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

A potential security crisis was averted Wednesday morning after Israeli forces caught a Palestinian carrying a pipe bomb outside of a military court in the West Bank near the Palestinian village of Salem.

According to border police, the suspect, a minor from Jenin, attempted to enter the complex via a military checkpoint. When asked by security officials to show identification, the suspect said he did not have any, prompting a search of his person. During the search, soldiers found two pipe bombs in the suspect’s possession.

Initial investigations revealed that he planned to enter the courthouse complex and detonate the explosive devices, targeting security forces inside.

The suspect was taken by security forces for further investigation.

Bomb disposal technicians were called in to neutralize the devices.

 

Siren Wails as Israel Marks Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

Israelis stand still next to their cars as a siren sounds in memory of victims of the Holocaust, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 24, 2017. Israel has come to a standstill as people stopped in their tracks for a two-minute siren that wailed across the country in remembrance of the Holocaust’s 6 million Jewish victims. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel came to a standstill on Monday as people stopped in their tracks for a two-minute siren that wailed across the country in remembrance of the Holocaust’s 6 million Jewish victims.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, President Reuven Rivlin, second left, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, second right, and his wife, Eveline Steinberger-Kern, stand during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

The ritual is the centerpiece of Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day for those who were systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. Pedestrians stood in place, buses stopped on busy streets and cars pulled over on major highways — their drivers standing on the roads with their heads bowed.

In homes and businesses, people stopped what they were doing to pay homage to the victims of the Nazi genocide, in which a third of world Jewry was annihilated.

 

Israeli soldiers stand guard during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

 

A wreath laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial followed, with Israeli leaders and Holocaust survivors in attendance. A public reading of names also took place in Israel’s parliament, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders recited names of relatives who were killed. Other ceremonies, prayers and musical performances took place in schools, community centers and army bases around the country.

Holocaust survivor Larisa Feigin, 91, stands still during a two-minute siren in memory of victims of the Holocaust, at her apartment in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. Feigin escaped from Belarus on 1941 and walked for two and a half month to Russia and emigrated to Israel on 1990. Israel is holding its annual Holocaust remembrance day in memory of the 6 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

 

The annual remembrance is one of the most solemn days on Israel’s calendar. Restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment shut down, and radio and TV programs are dedicated almost exclusively to documentaries about the Holocaust, interviews with survivors and somber music. The Israeli flag flew at half-staff.

Israel was established in 1948, just three years after the end of the war, and hundreds of thousands of survivors fled there. Some 160,000 elderly survivors remain, with a similar number worldwide. With the passing years, and the dwindling in numbers of survivors, greater emphasis has been put on commemorating their individual stories.

 

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern lays a wreath during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

 

The central theme of this year’s commemorations at Yad Vashem is “Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust.”

The Holocaust memorial called on the public to share testimony and provide more names of those who perished. To date, Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Project has collected over 4,700,000 names of the victims.

“It is a race against the clock to collect as many names of those murdered during the Holocaust before there are no more survivors left,” said Alexander Avram, the director of Vad Vashem’s Hall of Names.

 

World War II veterans lay a wreath during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

 

At the opening ceremony on Sunday night, Netanyahu spoke about what he said was the world’s indifference to the genocide of the Jews in World War II and how Israel is the guarantee the Jewish people will never be that weak again.

“The lesson is that we must be able to defend ourselves by ourselves, against every threat, against every enemy,” he said.

President Reuven Rivlin took a different approach. He said although the Holocaust is “permanently branded in our flesh” it “is not the lens through which we should examine our past and our future.”

 

People walk past Auschwitz train wagon during a remembrance day in Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. Israel is marking its annual Holocaust remembrance day in memory of the 6 million Jews systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lays a wreath during a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP)

 

Neo-Nazi Website Unleashed Internet Trolls Against a Jewish Woman

Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh / credit: Dan Chung/Southern Poverty Law Center

By Jenny Jarvie and Jaweed Kaleem / Los Angeles Times (April 19, 2017)

Once again, the Southern Poverty Law Center is taking aim at neo-Nazis — this time in a rare lawsuit accusing an online publisher of urging anonymous Internet trolls to unleash a torrent of anti-Semitic slurs and harassment against a Jewish real estate agent in Montana.

The center filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in a case involving white nationalist Richard Spencer and his family, alleging that Andrew Anglin, the founder and publisher of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, let loose an online “terror campaign” against the woman and her family.

The suit alleges that Anglin published a string of articles urging his “horde” of anonymous followers to inflict a “troll storm” on Tanya Gersh and her family, invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and violating the Montana Anti-Intimidation Act.

The controversy began in December when Anglin accused Gersh of attempting to extort money from Spencer’s mother. Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, won nationwide notoriety after Donald Trump’s election victory when a viral video showed him leading a chant of “Hail Trump!” in Washington, as his followers raised their hands in Nazi salutes.

With rumors of protests against the Spencer family in Whitefish — a liberal ski town of 6,000 people in northwest Montana where the Spencers own a vacation home and a commercial property — Gersh agreed to help Spencer’s mother sell a mixed-use building she owns downtown. Two weeks later, Sherry Spencer published a blog post accusing Gersh of threatening her and trying to extort her into selling the property.

In the first of a stream of 30 posts, the Daily Stormer published a story repeating Spencer’s allegations, asking its followers, “Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm?”

Gersh, her husband and 12-year-old son received a barrage of more than 700 “threatening” anti-Semitic and homophobic emails, phone calls, texts, social media comments, letters, postcards and Christmas cards, the lawsuit alleges.

“I once answered the phone and all I heard were gunshots,” Gersh told reporters Tuesday in a telephone news conference.

On Dec. 16, Anglin published a post on Daily Stormer, providing his followers with phone numbers, email addresses and links to social media profiles for Gersh and her immediate family members, friends and colleagues. “Let’s Hit Em Up,” he urged.

In that post, Anglin referred to Gersh’s son using homophobic and anti-Semitic terms. He also published his Twitter handle, encouraging readers to “hit him up” and “tell them what you think of his whore mother’s vicious attack on the community of Whitefish.”

“NO VIOLENCE OR THREATS OF VIOLENCE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE TO THAT,” the website qualified. “Just make your opinions known. Tell them you are sickened by their Jew agenda to attack and harm the mother of someone whom they disagree with.”

“This was so far beyond harassment. This was really terrorism,” Gersh said, noting she was no longer working, had lost hair and was attending trauma therapy meetings twice a week. “My life is forever changed.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Missoula, seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Attorneys would not specify a dollar amount being sought.

“In the old days, Andrew Anglin would have burned a cross on Tanya’s front lawn,” Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen said. “In the digital age, he launched a troll storm against her.”

The Alabama-based center has a long track record of filing litigation against extremist groups. In 1999, the group brought a case on behalf of a Native American woman and her son who were chased and shot at by white supremacist Aryan Nations security guards. Two men were sentenced to prison in the attack, and in 2000 an Idaho jury returned a $6.3-million civil judgment against Aryan Nations and its founder.

In 2000, the center sued Jeff Berry, the leader of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, winning a $120,000 judgment after Berry detained two journalists covering a story about a planned Klan rally. After ordering his followers to block the exits, one Klansman pumped a shotgun.

Only one of its previous cases focused on online threats — and that was nearly 20 years ago.

In 1998, the center filed a suit on behalf of Bonnie Jouhari, a fair-housing advocate in Pennsylvania, against a neo-Nazi group, Alpha HQ, after it posted her address and photo on an online bulletin board. As a result of a barrage of threats from white supremacists, Jouhari changed her name and fled with her daughter to another state. In 2000, she was awarded a $1-million judgment.

“Putting people in fear is a form of assault,” Cohen said, noting that even in the case of the Aryan Nations lawsuit, his clients were not physically hurt, but they suffered emotional and psychological injuries. “The legal principles are tried and true, but this is the first time we’ve applied it in a digital context to a troll storm.”

“It’s going to be a precedent-setting case,” he added.

Even though there has been an uptick in online trolling in the last decade, lawsuits are rare, said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and author of the book “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.”

“You mostly see people just pray it goes away,” she said. “You just don’t see a lot of cases like this because they’re expensive, and it’s easier to hide.”

“What this lawsuit is aiming to do is send the message that there are real consequences here,” Citron added. “If you’re going to target someone in ways that then lead to death threats, reputational-harming lies and you’re inspiring your troll army … there are consequences for this incredibly destructive, threatening, inciting-violence behavior. So often this alt-right movement is like, ‘There’s no stopping us. We have free speech on our side.’ Of course there are limits…. It’s not a free-for-all.”

Anglin did not respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment.In a follow-up post in December, Anglin accused “the lying Jew media” of falsely claiming the Daily Stormer “threatened” anyone in Whitefish. “I have made it explicitly clear that I am not calling for threats or harassment or anything else against the people who are threatening and harassing (and extorting) the Spencers,” he wrote.

Cohen said a jury was unlikely to be swayed by Anglin’s argument.

“We see those disclaimers all the time,” he said. “The hatemongers of the world want to protect themselves. When you look at the material he posted, it’s absolutely clear he knew what was going to happen. He would be terrorizing her.”

Gersh was not the only person targeted by the Daily Stormer. The website also published pictures, names and other identifying information about several other members of the small Jewish community in Flathead County.

“As someone who was attacked as a member of the community, I strongly support Tanya Gersh,” said Rabbi Francine Roston, whose name and photo were posted on the website along with a description of her as a “super Jew.” Roston leads B’nai Shalom, a Jewish congregation based in Kalispell, the Flathead County seat that’s about 17 miles south of Whitefish.

Will Randall, a leader of Love Lives Here, a grass-roots organization that put together interfaith demonstrations against the neo-Nazi threats, cheered the filing of the lawsuit.

“While we are working on the ground to counter hate and inequality, kudos to SPLC for taking it to the courts. The people of Whitefish, Jewish people, human rights supporters and all those targeted by hate deserve justice and peace.”

Still, Randall said, members of the community were “concerned that there could be more hate projected toward us.” The Daily Stormer has also published articles disparaging the group.

“Anglin doesn’t represent the values of equity and inclusivity that most Montanans displayed when they chose to support the people of Whitefish who were targeted by this hate,” Rachel Carroll Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said in a statement. “Montanans also value justice, and this suit seeks justice for the Gersh family and people of Whitefish. When radical right-wing extremists, like Andrew Anglin, use bully tactics to threaten, intimidate and harass through vigilante actions there should be consequences.”

Residents of Whitefish and Kalispell said their fight against neo-Nazis and other white supremacists was far from over.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified several hate groups that operate in northwest Montana’s Flathead Valley, a pristine region tucked between Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake that has one of the fastest-growing populations in the state. The region, which is 97% white, is known for its cattle pastures and once-thriving timber mills as well as luxury waterfront condos, bed-and-breakfasts and resort villages in the shadow of ski slopes.

Love Lives Here formed several years ago after one group, Pioneer Little Europe, organized a white supremacist film screening at a regional library. Since the troll storm, the activist group has hired its first staffers to work on issues including LGBTQ rights, education on Islam and combating anti-Semitism. This weekend, the group is hosting an event in Whitefish called “Life After Hate,” where a former white supremacist, Christian Picciolini, is scheduled to speak.

Still, white supremacists regularly post fliers on street posts and sneak them into door jambs. “Diversity is code for White Genocide,” said one left last month outside an Irish restaurant in Kalispell.