On Wednesday, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, alt-right luminary Richard Spencer declared himself to be a … – Tablet Magazine

Posted By on August 19, 2017

On Wednesday, in an interview with Israels Channel 2,alt-right luminary Richard Spencer declared himself to be a white Zionist.Just as Jews want a state of their own, the Charlottesville far-right organizerargued, he merely seeksa state for white people.

As an Israeli citizen, Spencer told his Israeli interviewer, someone who understands your identity, 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. I mean, you could say that I am a white Zionist in the sense that I care about my people. I want us to have a secure homeland thats for us and ourselves just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.

Its ananalogy with superficial plausibility. Its also a malicious lie, and a deliberate one. At the American Jewish Committees Global Forum in June, I explained why:

Essentially, the alt-right maliciously appropriates the deeply heldvalues of liberals and minorities in order to attack them. This is not because the alt-right shares those values, but because itwants to troll those who do. Thus, it wrenches causes like affirmative action, black pride, and Zionism from their historical and moral contextas defenses of minorities against long-standing majority oppressionand inverts them to serve white supremacist aims against minorities. In this manner, the return of Jews to their indigenous homeland is recast by white nationalists, who are not indigenous to America, to justify kicking Jews and other minorities out ofthe country.

This disingenuous dynamic of using liberal values to troll liberals has been documentedelsewhere by journalistswho have followedthe alt-right. And it was understood long before these bigots sought to rebrand in the 21st century. As Jean-Paul Sartre wrotein his 1946 treatise Anti-Semite and Jew:

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert.

That the alt-right does not genuinely support Israel or Zionismthat they delight in acting in bad faith on the topicis readily apparent from how its members talk about Israel when they are not engaged in trolling. Thiswas particularly evident when Trump launched air strikes in Syria and the alt-right promptly blamed it on the very Zionists they previously claimed to admire:

Among alt-right luminaries, antipathy towards Israeltakes many other forms, such as the conspiracy theory thatthe Jewish state is alliedwith ISIS:

Needless to say, these are not Zionist sympathizers. These are classic conspiratorial anti-Semites who hate the Jewish state with passion and see it as the source of the worlds ills. They know quite well that Israel, with a population that is 20 percent Arab and full of Jews of all hues from Mizrahi to Ethiopian, is nothing like their desired white nationalist paradise.

Now,maliciously lying about Jews and their state is to be expected from Jew haters. Less explicable, however, are those far-left critics of Israel whouncritically accept and amplify these alt-right claims equating Zionism with white nationalism. Take, for example, anti-ZionistOmri Boehm in the New York Times(an argument that does not embrace a double standard [on Zionism and white nationalism] is hard to come by) and Jewish Voice for Peaces Naomi Dann in The Forward (whats so chilling about Spencers comparison of white supremacy to Israel [is] not its anti-Semitism but the kernel of truth at its core). These self-styled progressives, who otherwise rightly dismiss and deride everything Richard Spencer has to say, suddenly hold him up as a trustworthy authority when it comes to the Jewish state and its ideological underpinnings. They bend over backward to cast his demonstrably disingenuous fulminations about Israel as an exception to his hate, rather than an obvious example of it.

Such specious conduct raises the question: If you consider everything an anti-Semitic far-right leader says to be vile and hateful, yet nonethelesspresent him as an honest expositor onthe home of half the worlds Jews for your own political purposes, areyour moral scruples any less corrupted than his? When you find yourselfsuggestingthat the Nazis are right about the Jews,perhaps its time to rethink your life choices.

In any case, while Spencer may have fooled a handful of leftists with his crude caricature of Zionism, he should not fool the rest of us.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet and the editor of the English-language blog of the Israeli National Archives. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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On Wednesday, in an interview with Israel's Channel 2, alt-right luminary Richard Spencer declared himself to be a ... - Tablet Magazine

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