White Nationalists Are Capitalizing on the Gaza Crisis
At a rally near the White House, 40 white nationalist National Justice Party, or NJP, members demanded a ceasefire in Gaza on Oct. 28. “[In] a country as broke as ours … why the hell are they dragging us into another Zionist war?” yelled one member of the group, standing next to alt-right podcaster Mike “Enoch” Peinovich. After the speaker made an antisemitic reference to the U.S. as “Zionist occupied territory,” one of the attendees demanded “no more Jewish wars” to a passing cameraman.
Despite these claims of solidarity with Palestine, the white nationalist intervention on this issue comes not from their concern for Palestinian lives, but out of a desire to manipulate the conflict to serve their own racial narratives.
As coverage of the Gazan war streamed across white nationalist websites and social media accounts, a confusing range of opinions conflicted with each other, with some supporting Israel because they think it could lead to a further attack on Islamic countries, while others staunchly pointed the finger at Israel.
“Israel is a grotesque country. Not only do we not receive anything in compensation for our support, but American interests are also damaged as a result of our support for Israel,” writes Bernard M. Smith for the Occidental Observer, a publication that few know about but has had an influential role in developing American white nationalism. The publication pushes racial pseudoscience, bogus race and crime statistics, arguments for white ethnic superiority, and scapegoating immigrants, queer people and women. But as the Israeli bombing of Gaza began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, coverage shifted immediately to focus on Israel.
In another article, posted on Oct. 18, the Observer denounced the doxxing of students at Harvard (and a truck driving around campus bearing their likeness), who were harassed by pro-Israel organizations after they signed a letter opposing Israel’s violence against innocent civilians. The article was penned by Kevin MacDonald, an essential figure in the birthing of the alt-right, who contends that eugenics and social manipulation are used by Jews to increase their own power and control over gentile society. The Jewish conspiracy is baked into MacDonald’s worldview, and he believes Jews have now gained power across all dominant institutions by shifting the values in the worlds of academics, anthropology, philosophy, the media, banking and politics.
“There’s no such thing as Palestine. It’s always been a figment of the imagination of Islamic terrorists and Jew haters,” said far-right activist and former Florida Congressional candidate Laura Loomer on Twitter shortly after the Hamas attack. She was joined by a chorus on the far right, primarily among those who still have some connection to the GOP. “Make no mistake, this is Islam’s ‘holy war’ and their ultimate goal is to wipe out all of Israel,” said Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green on Oct. 7 from her official Telegram channel.
Green has been mired in controversy since she took office, particularly when her social media feed was found to be filled with antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the theory that Rothschild-funded space lasers were responsible for California wildfires, and after she spoke at a conference hosted by white nationalist Nick Fuentes.
Much of this area of the far right seems to be hoping that this conflict can reinvigorate what is known as the “counter-jihad” movement, a far-right collection of groups and individuals who believe Islam is a threat to the West and see Muslims as their primary civilizational enemy. “The Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists are not ‘militants,’” wrote David Horowitz, a far-right Jewish activist most credited with launching the counter-jihad movement. “They are Nazis and their mission is to finish the job that Hitler started.”
This is the same sentiment that was then echoed by former senior Trump advisor Stephen Miller, the architect of the child separation policy and “Muslim ban,” who is a former protege of Horowitz. “Israel is fighting a jihadist death squad,” Miller said on Twitter on Oct. 19. “A genocidal terrorist camp operating on its border. Israel’s straightforward military mission is to eliminate the death squad, a necessary action to ensure the survival of the sole Jewish state.”
Far-right media provocateur Andy Ngo completely devoted his social media presence and articles at The Post Millennial to talking about the alleged antisemitism of the left. He points out when pro-Palestine protesters are Black or Muslim and then frames them as radical extremists (suggesting that, somehow, Jewish philanthropist George Soros is responsible for them).
Many of the leading far-right parliamentary groups among the European national populist bloc also publicly showed support for Israel in the conflict. This could have been anticipated, since Israel’s ruling Likud party and its leader Benjamin Netanyahu have worked to develop alliances with the global right despite its rampant antisemitism.
Germany’s Alternative fur Deutschland party, or AfD, pledged its support for Israel, even though it has a long history of antisemitic statements and a deep connection to Germany’s neo-Nazi movement. In recent years, the party has attempted to court right-wing Jews by using their support for Israel as a way of drawing them into the fight against what the AfD thinks is the bigger threat: Islam.
The same logic motivates the far-right Britain First movement, which said in a statement that the “government of Israel is run by patriotic leaders who have zero tolerance for migrant misbehavior.” Britain First’s primary mission is to demonize immigrants and it looks towards Israel’s migrant policy, which is incredibly restrictive, as inspiration. It also seems to venerate Israel’s treatment of Muslim Palestinians and Arabs, which Amnesty International refers to as “apartheid,” as a model for Britain to follow.
The so-called Jewish cabal
Inside the world of formal white nationalism, the mood was much different. “[For] White nationalists, the central conspiracy theory animating their movement is that there is a Jewish cabal animating politics, the media, the economy and progressive movements, and they see this Jewish cabal as the main enemy,” said Ben Lorber, a research analyst at Political Research Associates who tracks the far right. Lorber points out that they extend this conspiracy to their views about Israel and they consider the U.S. a “Zionist Occupied Government.”
“[They] may not agree with Palestine solidarity protesters on anything related to racism, and they don’t generally care about Palestinians, but they think it’s important to oppose Israel because they see Israel as a Jewish conspiracy,” Lorber said.
White nationalist Richard Spencer was notable for professing his support of the Zionist project and arguing that Jews and Israelis should support the alt-right because they “want the same things,” which in his formulation is authoritarian ethnic nationalism. Yet his commitment to Israel was opportunistic and has been a frequent topic of discussion on his various livestreams and private Zoom calls for Substack subscribers.
For white nationalists, the show of support for Palestinians is entirely a disingenuous attempt to hijack the conflict to add political weight to their antisemitism. “[For] neo-Nazis and many other white nationalists, anti-Zionism is based on hatred of Jews, not solidarity with Palestinians,” writes researcher of the far right, Matthew N. Lyons, in his 2018 book “Insurgent Supremacists.”
This appropriation of Palestinian struggles has been a long-term strategy in some sectors of the far right, which points to Israeli settler colonialism as an extension of the supposedly malevolent Jewish mind. “They have been doing this for years,” says antifascist researcher Daryle Lamont Jenkins. “It has been ‘an enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of thing. But in this case it is hollow, because the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy, but one you are trying to exploit.”
Jenkins says that this strategy was heavily employed by white nationalist pioneers like David Duke. He created an organization around the time of Operation Desert Storm called “No War For Israel” in an effort to lodge the idea that these Middle Eastern wars are the result of a global Jewish plot. His obsessive antisemitism pushed him to try and put Jews, and eventually Israel, at the center of every global political development and, reflexively, use Israel’s crimes as evidence of Jewish perfidy. He is credited with founding the antisemitic slur “Zio,” and his website is primarily built around reporting on various global events he believes is under their control, particularly regarding their dispossession of Palestinians.
Nick Fuentes is using the escalating war on Gaza to further push his isolationist proposal for American foreign policy, covering the mistreatment that anti-Zionist activists have experienced since speaking out about Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Fuentes alleged during his Oct. 18 livestream that the recent doxxing of Harvard student activists was funded by a “Wall Street Jew” and that he has experienced the same silencing after he “decided to speak out against Israel.”
“These people are a fifth column in this country, and I’m talking about Jews,” Fuentes said in that same livestream. The U.S. could not come out against Israel, he added, because the Jews have so “deeply penetrated the American elite” and undermined American sovereignty. Fuentes has had a series of controversies for making antisemitic statements, from quietly dipping into Holocaust denial to suggesting that “Talmudic Jews” are a threat who needed to be converted.
The National Justice Party, an outgrowth of the Right Stuff podcast network and their flagship show, “The Daily Shoah,” has made documenting the war in Gaza a primary focus of their website, The Justice Report. Eric Striker, a contributor to several of the network’s podcasts, is known for having a particularly syncretic form of neo-Nazism. He often tries to draw in issues from the left, including criticisms of finance capital, and then bring them under the banner of a vicious nationalism. “There is no such thing as left or right. Antifa, the ‘Christian’ right, the Democrats and Republicans, ‘populists’ and establishment, 100 percent of them are geopolitical and social chess pieces deployed by world Jewry to manage and manipulate unassuming and low agency gentiles,” Striker wrote on Telegram on Oct. 14, now sporting a Palestinian flag in his name.
In reality, the white nationalist movement has nothing to offer the fight for Palestinian liberation. It is simply trying to inject antisemitism into the discourse, and many have been perfectly open about that. As Mark Gullet wrote on Oct. 18, for the white nationalist Counter-Currents website, “I have no ‘side’ in the Gaza conflict. It’s not a sporting fixture. I don’t have any money on it. Dead babies here, white phosphorus there. Whatever. “[The] only relevant question is: What is in this conflict that will benefit whites or otherwise and, if otherwise, what do we do about it?”
The same point was made by the alt-right associated YouTuber RamZPaul, who has spoken at white nationalist conferences like American Renaissance and the National Policy Institute. On Oct. 18 he posted on Twitter, “Why must Americans be forced to choose between two warring tribes? Why must we send billions to support some tribe’s ethno state?” This is essentially a position similar to that taken by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose InfoWars has alternated between suggesting Israel was responsible for the attack, to saying the West is covering up for Hamas.
The reality is that despite attempts to co-opt the Palestinian solidarity movement for their own goals, white nationalists have been largely unsuccessful. They will continue to fail as long as Palestinian solidarity activists are aware of how the far right tries to hijack important issues and reframe them through a racialist lens.
Lorber notes that the advantage Palestine solidarity activists have is that they are often closely aligned with larger antiracist coalitions that can give them intel on disingenuous far-right figures attempting to participate. “Many of the people at these Palestine solidarity rallies are antifascists, and they know who their local fascists are and are determined for them not to have a space at their rally.” This is also happening at a time when Palestinian solidarity organizers are routinely labeled as antisemitic by groups like the Anti-Defamation League, which confuses the issue and makes it more difficult to address real antisemitism when it surfaces.
“[Work] closely with local antifascists who know those particular neo-Nazis and fascists intimately enough to alert people when they try to ingratiate themselves with organizers and participants,” Jenkins recommended. He also noted that in every community there are antifascists who typically research the local far-right and who will know who is there to opportunistically shift the rhetoric towards antisemitic conspiracies. They can provide support and guidance to organizers who want to remove fascist agitators.
Recently the Jewish antifascist organization Outlive Them outed a Christian nationalist activist who had been trying to join Palestinian solidarity demonstrations, using messages like “Jewish supremacy is the real white supremacy.”
Since the Palestinian solidarity movement is a centerpiece of the broad American leftist coalition, antifascist consciousness has often guided decisions about who to allow to join the fight against Israeli apartheid. When antisemitism has emerged in the Palestinian solidarity movement it has often been pushed out, such as with the cases of Gilad Atzmon (a collaborator with Greg Johnson at Counter-Currents), Israel Shamir or Alison Weir. Ken O’Keefe, a conspiracy theorist who spent time in the Palestine solidarity movement, was summarily removed from good standing when he developed a public friendship with David Duke.
As the movement against Israel’s genocide in Gaza builds up steam we can expect to see the far right disingenuously attempt to bring in recruits who are also outraged by Israel’s violence. By focusing on the demands for democracy and equality in Palestine, organizers can drill to the heart of what the movement is about and oust those who do not share those underlying principles.
Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of "Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It" (AK Press). His work as appeared in places such as Jacobin, AlterNet, In These Times, Political Research Associates, Waging Nonviolence, Labor Notes, ThinkProgress, ROAR Magazine and Upping the Anti. Follow him on Twitter: @shane_burley1.
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