David Duke, Other Anti-Semites, Propagandize in Middle East

Former Klan leader David Duke has often sought to portray himself as a red-blooded American, albeit a "European-American" who doesn't have much friendly to say about blacks and Jews. So it came as something of a surprise when Duke showed up last November in Syria, an authoritarian Arab society that has been the source of many of the anti-American fighters who have joined the Iraqi insurgency.

To the accolades of the Syrian press and many politicians, Duke hailed the "peace-loving people" of Syria, said the country had "a much more free media" than his own, and complained of the "Zionist occupation" of Washington, D.C. Contrary to popular belief, Duke reported to his followers later, Syria is "quite nice actually," a land "with almost no crime, fantastic food, and much music and friendliness."

Syria, accused recently of orchestrating assassinations and other crimes in Lebanon, is not the only Middle Eastern country with thorny relations with the West that has welcomed radical anti-Semites from other countries. A news agency in Iran, whose president recently gave speeches denying the Holocaust and calling for a conference to debunk it, interviewed two well-known Holocaust deniers on Dec. 19.

Paul Fromm, a fired Canadian schoolteacher, told the Mehr News Agency that Hollywood is "controlled by Zionists," discussed "the story of the 'Holocaust' ... [that] has allowed the Jews to acquire many billions of dollars," and described the Nazi genocide as "a religion created by the Jews for non-Jews." In the past, Fromm also has addressed anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups in America.

On the same day, the Mehr Agency interviewed Frederick Toben, the director of the Adelaide Institute in Australia and another anti-Semite. Toben said Jewish reports of Nazi gassings were "outright lies" and claimed that Hitler had merely broken free of "predatory capitalism" controlled by "International Jewish Finance." According to his own account, Toben, imprisoned in 1999 in Germany for Holocaust denial, also visited Iran in 2001 and 2003 for the "Intifada Conferences."

These kinds of contacts didn't win universal accolades from American white supremacists. David Pringle, a well-known neo-Nazi based in Alaska, noted on his Web site that "hundreds" of Syrian fighters had been involved in battles against Americans in Fallujah, Iraq, and complained of Duke's speaking to "Arab greasers." Duke, he warned, could very well be remembered as another "Hanoi Jane."