As Israel’s war against Hamas expands into Gaza, so do concerns over the safety of Jews here in the U.S. Antisemitism in America has been well documented on the political left, but elements of this hatred have emerged on the right-wing fringe as well.
The ‘America First’ movement has been defined as a pro-Trump, ‘Make America Great Again’ philosophy. Inside, there’s a smaller and stringent anti-war, isolationist wing of the movement that takes its cue from a pioneer of more than a decade: former presidential candidate Ron Paul.
“Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send out money endlessly to Israel,” Paul said in a past presidential debate. “I think they’re quite capable of taking care of themselves.”
Today, that rhetoric has grown into a very anti-Israel and anti-Jewish tone pushed by radicals with large followings on social media. Jackson Hinkle recently posted the following: “Your taxpayer dollars are being sent to Israel so they can drop bombs on Palestinian civilians. Defund Israel.”
Another radical named Stew Peters echoed a blood libel, writing, “Israel is now bombing Christian churches. They are of their father, the devil.”
Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, who clings tightly to the ‘America First’ agenda, wants to see an Israel-last approach. “It is a repugnant and evil government that is led by the Jewish state that is about to commit perhaps the worst atrocities in this century,” Fuentes recently claimed on his online show. “I’m calling on all ‘America First’ supporters to pray for the people of Gaza and also to get the word out, ‘hashtag Gaza genocide.’ It’s what it is.”
The ‘America First’ movement is certainly not defined by this anti-Jewish rhetoric. Most supporters appear to stand with Israel. However, one visible group has stirred controversy. Lauren Chen, a contributor to Turning Point USA called the comments by Nick Fuentes, “a more balanced and rational take on Israel/Palestine than the entire political class.”
TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk also raised eyebrows when he seemed to suggest that Israel may have been somewhat responsible for the surprise attack by Hamas. “I’m not willing to say, to go so far to say that Netanyahu knew or there was intelligence here but I think some questions need to be asked,” Kirk said in a recent podcast. “Was there a stand down order? Six hours? I don’t believe it. Israel’s the size of New Jersey. When I took a helicopter ride from Jerusalem to the Gaza border, it’s 45 minutes. Six hours, they’re livestreaming the killing of Jews. Did somebody in the government say stand down? That is a legitimate, non-conspiracy question.”
Conservative writer Erick Erickson responded with an article entitled, “Why Does Turning Point USA Keep Pushing Anti-Semitism?” stating, “We’ve got the leader of Turning Point USA suggesting the leader of Israel knowingly allowed mass murder and…employees promoting anti-Semites.”
This isolationist, anti-war wing maintains that raising questions and concerns about blindly supporting Israel isn’t antisemitic at all. They see it as more of government distrust. “The United States has been propping up the military-industrial complex in Israel since they created Israel,” one person told Fox News. “I don’t believe we should be giving them more money for bombs, guns and stuff like that.”
Another woman who spoke with Fox News agreed. “We have problems right here on the border and I really think they should rectify that first.” That’s a sentiment popular conservative figure Candace Owens echoed recently saying, “America’s priority should be defending America’s borders—not the borders of overseas nations… not a single foreign nation that we financially support has offered to help defend our southern border. So no, I won’t be manipulated into thinking that it’s our duty to defend theirs.”
While some may see that as anti-Israel, movement members take the ‘America First’ moniker literally. A case in point was when Tucker Carlson recently questioned fellow conservative Ben Shapiro asking why there wasn’t the same outrage over American overdose deaths as there’s been about what happened to Israel. That angered the Jewish Shapiro. “It is not alike for drug smugglers to smuggle drugs over the border, which someone then takes and shoves into their arm and then they die of an overdose, that is not the same thing,” Shapiro responded. “I promise you, it is not the same thing as a terrorist breaking into your home and murdering your children in their beds in front of you and dragging your wife off to be raped in Gaza. That is not the same thing. Pretending that it is, is a moral blight. It’s idiocy. It’s just moral stupidity at the highest level.”
All of this shows that while Democrats battle their own problems of antisemitism on the far left, conservatives within the ‘America First’ movement are having their own issues about views toward Israel as well.