Slip-roads to antisemitism

Protesters with a sign opposing antisemitism (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden/Sipa via Jewish News)
Protesters with a sign opposing antisemitism (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden/Sipa via Jewish News)

Antisemitism remains an important issue for Jewish communities, the government and policy makers alike. Indeed, such is the severity that Labour – the official party of opposition – was found to have been institutionally antisemitic.

In the recent Labour conference, delegates voted overwhelmingly (73%) to implement the Equality and Human Rights Council’s (EHRC) recommendations to root out and tackle antisemitism when it is found in the party. This is of course, a positive step forward in tackling a scourge that has plagued the party for quite some time. Whilst significant amounts of attention have been rightfully placed on the relationship between antisemitism and the left, indicators of antisemitism on the far-right must also be taken just as seriously.

Antisemitism on the far-right is not an issue that suffers from a lack of research and academic debate. It is in fact – amongst the far left and the Islamist threat – a key area that requires constant attention. Part of this is understanding the profiles of who those people are and the risk they pose to Jewish communities. To answer this question, it is worth exploring some of these indicators of antisemitism found on the far-right.

Ideologically, those on the far-right are drawn to conspiracy theories such as White Genocide. As the name suggests, it is the belief that white populations in the west are at risk of extinction due to a growing number of Jews and Muslims. This is further advanced by the claim that population growth is in fact engineered by the ‘all-powerful Jews’. As to be expected, antisemitic conspiracy theories further rupture sensitive relations between communities and risk creating tensions where there should be none. But for those on the far-right, blaming Jews for their perceived grievances seems to be standard practice.

There are deadly consequences to this conspiracy theory. In 2019 far-right gunman Stephan Balliet attempted to kill Jews at a synagogue in the German city of Halle. At the time, there were 52 worshippers celebrating Yom Kippur. What stood between Balliet and the worshipers was a heavy bolted door. Failing this, Balliet instead shot and killed a female passer-by and a man at a nearby kebab shop.

Whilst conspiracy theories offer a slip road to antisemitism, a hatred of women driven by misogyny and anti-feminism provides a path towards the same destination. In a recent report by Hope Not Hate titled: Antisemitism and Misogyny Overlap and Interplay – they found that the far right are using their own misogyny and anti-feminist views to target Jews. For example, the report asserts that far-right ideologies are predicated on the politics of grievance, that it is white men who are the real victims in a globalized world. The blame is therefore not only placed on ethnic minorities – such as Jews – but women themselves. They therefore see anti-feminism as a way to counter that.

The report cites two case studies as examples of anti-feminism and misogyny as an indicator of antisemitism from far-right figures. The first is Catboy Kami, an Australian internet troll that has used social networking chatrooms to spew his antisemitic, racist and misogynistic bile. For example, on the popular chat site Omegle, Kami had been found to have dressed in blackface, mocking the death of George Floyd and dressing as a grotesque antisemitic caricature. When it came to women, Catboy Kami was found to have targeted black girls and women in particular.

The second case study of particular prominence is Daryush Valizadeh, more widely known as Roosh V.  During the period of 2015, Roosh V had written a ‘glowing review’ of The Culture of Critique by Kevin McDonald – a pseudo-scientific book that argues that Judaism should be understood as a ‘group evolutionary strategy’. Moreover, Roosh V also appears to claim that feminism developed as an ideology because it had disproportionate Jewish support.

What is clear when it comes to antisemitism is that conspiracy theories remain a key threat to Jewish communities around the world. However, in regards to the far-right, anti-feminism and misogyny also play a role in these conspiracy theories.

Instead of allowing slip-roads to antisemitism to form, government and policy makers need to take a stronger stand and approach against this by tightening legislation to tackle conspiracies, misogyny and racism to prevent them from gaining traction online. Without such an approach, instances like these will continue to be common. Attacking Jews never ends with attacking Jews, everyone is at risk from the far-right threat.

About the Author
Wasiq is an academic and trustee for the organisation Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS). He specialises in the areas of academia, law and terrorism.
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