'Jews must respect me' says Richard Spencer after riots
Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer has told Israeli media that Jewish people should respect him after he was questioned over the rabid anti-Semitism on display during the Charlottesville riots over the weekend.
The riots began last Friday when hundreds of torch-wielding white nationalists marched at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Hours later on Saturday, a planned "Unite the Right" rally - billed as the largest gathering of its kind in years - marched through in the town.
Some demonstrators made Nazi salutes and shouted "Jews will not replace us" and "white lives matter" as they marched in protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General Robert E Lee.
A local Jewish leader said the local synagogue was a target for the neo-Nazi rioters. They had requested help from the police to keep worshippers safe on Saturday. The police rejectedtheir request and the synagogue had to hire their own private guards.
Parades of neo-Nazis passed the building, chanting "Seig Heil" and similar Nazi-inspired anti-Semitic terms.
Some even carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.
Despite this, Spencer, who was present at the riots appeared on Israel's Channel 2 to defend the anti-Semitic chants of the rioters - yet at the same time demanded Jewish people respect him and the demands of the white supremacist movement.
|Comment: Why Nazis love Bashar al-Assad|
"The fact is, Jews, let's be honest, Jews have been vastly over-represented in the historical left. Jews are vastly over-represented in the left right now.
"They're vastly over-represented in what you could call the establishment, that is, Ivy League-educated people who really determine policy - and white people are being disposed from this country," he said.
"So some in the crowd were making a statement. This is a free country. People are allowed to speak their mind."
Read more: Israel's president 'alarmed' by Nazi resurgence in US
When he was asked how Israelis were expected to sympathise with what he was saying, Spencer's reply became all the more problematic.
"As an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identify, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogous feelings about whites," he said.
Spencer also said the growth of the white supremacist movement, which he identifies as "alt-right", along with the election of US President Donald Trump, were "symptoms of a greater cause, and that is the demographic dispossession of white people in the United States and around the world".
On Wednesday evening, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin published an open letter to Jewish communities in the United States, pledging solidarity.
"The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag - perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism - paraded in the streets of the world's greatest democracy, and Israel's most cherished and greatest ally, is almost beyond belief," he wrote.