An American Jewish Congress report finds that some Republicans are engaging in virtual spaces where ideologies of hate commingle, spread and amplify antisemitism

Originally published in Haaretz.

WASHINGTON – Several Republican lawmakers are using antisemitism as a tool to mobilize extremism for their own political power, a new special report from the American Jewish Congress finds.

The AJCongress report, entitled “Jews Are Not A Prop,” claims that politicians such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Scott Perry are engaging in virtual spaces where ideologies of hate commingle and virally spread – in turn amplifying, emboldening and normalizing antisemitism. 

The report notes that “Greene’s base loved her comparison of mask laws to the Holocaust precisely because they saw it as a high-profile attack that would cause hurt in the Jewish community, particularly to Holocaust survivors,” the report states. It also rejected her apology, which she declined to share with her base on social media.

It further takes issue with Gosar’s defending of Greene, as well as his references to the “America First” movement and his organized fundraising with prominent white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. The AJCongress also called out Perry’s comparison of Democrats to Nazis, as well as his previous promotion of white supremacist conspiracies around population replacement.

A bipartisan advisory board of experts is advising the AJCongress on countering white supremacy and domestic extremism. Denver Riggleman, a former Republican member of Congress and co-chair of the board, says that “elected representatives that tout their historic ignorance and lack of judgement when using hyperbole to radicalize constituencies are part of the larger problem in diminishing the horrors of Nazi Germany.” He added that “antisemitism is perpetuated by media and political personalities who use false equivalencies and antisemitic tropes as fodder for fundraising and spreading disinformation.”

The report further states that alternative social networks are “forming a new online superhighway to radicalization, violent extremism and domestic terrorism.”

“There is a danger lurking in the new alternative social media platforms,” says Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Senior Fellow and advisory board member Aaron David Miller. “Antisemitism is used to create cohesion between extremist groups. Jews are being used as a prop to strengthen radicalization. The technology is taking this viral. This report sounds a much-needed alarm about the threat that is lurking just over the horizon.”

One of these social media platforms is Gab. The report says many Gab users are promoting ideologies such as Neo-Nazism, white supremacy, the Christian Identity Movement, QAnon and claims surrounding the January 6 insurrection and the so-called stolen election. It further accuses Gab of “increasing the risk of individual radicalization and mob mobilization – for political or violent action,” adding that Gab is behaving like a cult and extremist group by “pushing supporters to sever external connections, increasing reliance on the group.”

The report calls on lawmakers to limit the normalization of antisemitism, improve financial transparency, investigate antisemitsm in alternative social media spaces, and penalize the facilitation of extremism.

“There is no place for antisemitism or Holocaust distortion in American politics. Yet Jews are being used as a prop for the white supremacist radicalization taking place online, on alternative platforms like Gab,” says AJCongress President and advisory board co-chair Jack Rosen. “This is why we wrote our new report: to expose the very real danger posed by online radicalization to our political process. This radicalization is a threat not only to the Jewish community and American values, but to American democracy itself.”

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.