Friday, November 25, 2022

A strange configuration - Kanye West, Nick Fuentes, and Donald Trump and the rise of political antisemitism

Amid all the discussions now about rising antisemitism in the United States since Trump declared his candidacy in the summer of 2015, one element has not been sufficiently appreciated. We have focused on various manifestations of antisemitism that range from antisemitic graffiti and vandalism, the use of antisemitic tropes and images on social media, antisemitic attacks on Jews on social media (for example, the attacks on Jewish journalists on Twitter during the 2016 election campaign) to physical attacks on Jews (especially of Jews who stand out because of their dress), and all the way to the murders of Jews in Pittsburgh, Poway, and Jersey City.

I don't think enough focused attention and analysis has been done on the rise of political antisemitism in the US. I thought that after Trump's defeat in 2020 that it would start to fall again, but it's continued unabated in the political sphere. Trump keeps insisting that American Jews are disloyal to our true country, Israel - in contrast with the faithfulness of evangelical Christians. The nationalist populism that he ran on and continued to propagate in office opened the doors to public expression of many different kinds of bigotries, including antisemitism. Antisemitism is on its way to becoming respectable again in local and national politics. People and groups who would have been on the political fringe a dozen years ago, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, are being elected to Congress (despite the fact of the red wave that didn't come in the fall election). 

Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and anti-Black bigot, visited Mar-a-Lago this week with Kanye West. Some information about Fuentes and their visit with Trump:

Kanye West on his visit with Fuentes and conversation with Trump:
On Nick Fuentes and Trump, an article from Haaretz:

Trump Hosts Holocaust Revisionist Nick Fuentes and Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago
Fuentes and West are the latest figures with known histories of extremism and explicit antisemitic remarks to meet with Trump since he announced his 2024 presidential candidacy earlier this month

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. President Donald Trump hosted Kanye West at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida alongside Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust revisionist who has openly questioned the number of Jews killed by the Nazis.

The meeting, which has not been confirmed by Trump, would be among his most notable associations with extremists with histories of explicit antisemitic remarks, days after declaring his 2024 presidential candidacy.

West and Fuentes’ visit comes after the rapper – universally condemned over his screed of antisemitic remarks – said he was running for president in 2024 with the assistance of Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right provocateur who recently worked for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Several media outlets further reported Trump and West had dinner together without Fuentes present, though Fuentes shared a video of him alongside West at Miami’s airport.

Fuentes has been deemed a “white supremacist” by the Justice Department, and Republican members of Congress such as Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar came under significant criticism for addressing Fuentes’ America First Political Action Committee conference in February.

In May 2020, Trump retweeted a post by “America First clips,” an internet show founded by Nick Fuentes that replaced his YouTube channel, which was banned earlier in the year for hate speech.

Fuentes, who attended the 2017 white supremacist Charlottesville rally, has cultivated a following of white supremacists known as the “Groyper Army” who seek to preserve white, European-American identity. They make up a significant number of supporters for Trump’s conspiracies surrounding the 2020 election and many were present at the January 6 insurrection. He has used his multiple platforms to push explicitly antisemitic comments, smears and conspiracies, directed at both individual Jewish figures and widespread conspiracies about the Holocaust and Jewish influence on American society.

At his speech this year while hosting Greene and Gosar, Fuentes implored the crowd to support Russian President Vladimir Putin in the immediate aftermath of his decision to invade Ukraine and said “the U.S. government has become the ‘Great Satan’ that many have called it,” echoing terminology coined by Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Fuentes then mocked mainstream media for comparing Putin to Hitler, saying “they say that’s not a good thing” before laughing and adding “I shouldn’t have said that. What other way is there to say it, of course that’s a terrible comparison” to chuckles from the crowd.

The meeting comes one week after Trump addressed the RJC, where he repeated his allegations that American Jews do not sufficiently support him given his record as president on Israel — a charge that critics largely condemn as trafficking in antisemitic tropes.

The Republican Jewish Coalition strongly condemned Green and Gosar for sharing a platform with Fuentes, who “has actively spread antisemitic bile, mocked the Holocaust, and promoted dangerous anti-Israel conspiracy theories. This has absolutely no place in the Republican Party, and RJC will actively oppose anyone who associates with Nick Fuentes, AFPAC, and their ilk.” The RJC did not respond to comment requests on Trump’s association with Fuentes.

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