All at once, major American conservative figures seem to be using the Israel-Hamas conflict as an opportunity to flaunt antisemitic views.
After Hamas’ deadly incursion into Israel last month, and as the death toll continues to climb in Gaza from Israel’s ongoing retaliatory invasion, right-wing leaders from Charlie Kirk to Elon Musk have found a way to fault Jews worldwide.
Essentially, they argue that left-wing Jews who have supported progressive causes have incited racial division and hatred. Antisemitic claims along these lines have been around for years — they’re just usually dressedup as opposition to “cultural Marxism.”
Musk is perhaps the most notable example recently. On Wednesday, one user on X — the social media company Musk owns that was formerly known as Twitter — shared a video of an advertisement about combating antisemitism. The user, whose X profile indicates that he identifies as Jewish, urged anyone who anonymously posts “Hitler was right” to “say it to our faces.”
“Okay,” another user posted in a response. “Jewish [communities] ... have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them. I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.”
In other words, the post not only accused Jews collectively of pushing hatred against white people, but further suggested that Jews’ supposed actions justified attacks against them by “hordes of minorities.”
“You have said the actual truth,” Musk replied in agreement.
He later wrote that he was not referring to “all Jewish communities,” but that his comment did apply beyond the Anti-Defamation League, his longtime scapegoat for X’s lagging revenue under his ownership. The ADL, which monitors hate speech and extremism, previously joined other civil rights organizations in pressuring advertisers to limit spending on X until Musk acted on content moderation. But in a statement last month, the ADL said it in fact had been advertising on X until “the anti-ADL attacks began a few weeks ago,” and added that it was preparing to restart its advertising again.
“At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote antisemitic theories,” the organization’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in response to Musk on Thursday. (A day later, Greenblatt praised Musk’s “leadership in fighting hate” after Musk said X accounts that used the phrases “decolonization” or “from the river to the sea” could be suspended from the platform.)
As Bloomberg columnist Matthew Yglesias wrote in a summary of Musk’s tweet, “America’s richest man chimes in to say that Jews are getting what we deserve for being liberals.” Some antisemitic internet users rejoiced at Musk’s post; others said that he’d long expressed similar views. Matt Gertz of Media Matters observed that “Musk is, in the parlance of the white nationalists who applauded his remark, explicitly ‘naming the Jew’ as the source of the problem.”
The White House specifically denounced Musk’s comments. “We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” it said in a statement.
Similar rhetoric has previously come from violent antisemitic figures — including mass shooter Robert Bowers, who once wrote that Jewish charity HIAS “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people.” A federal grand jury recommended, and a judge imposed, the death penalty for Bowers after he was found guilty of shooting and killing 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
And Musk was not alone. Tucker Carlson expressed a similar sentiment on Wednesday’s episode of his X show. The former Fox News host made his point by referring to Jewish donors to universities who are now withholding their financial support, as they aim to show their opposition to schools’ responses to antisemitism and pro-Palestinian activism.
During an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens, Carlson accused Jewish donors of funding calls for “white genocide” and “calling my children immoral for their skin color.” As with the comment that Musk boosted, that sentiment recalled the so-called great replacement theory, or the notion that powerful establishment interests — Democrats, the “deep state” or, sometimes, Jews explicitly — are working to replace white people in the United States with people of color. The conspiracy theory has been cited by multiple massshooters. White nationalists who marched at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, declared, “Jews will not replace us!”
“If the biggest donors at, say, Harvard have decided, ‘We’re going to shut it down now,’ where were you the last 10 years when they called for white genocide?” Carlson said. “You were allowing this, and then I found myself really hating those people, actually. You’re OK with that? On what grounds were you OK with that?”
“People are asking the question, ‘Where were you as we have endured all of this?’” Owens said.
“You were paying for it, actually, as you were calling my children immoral for their skin color,” Carlson responded. “You paid for that. So why shouldn’t I be mad at you? I don’t understand.”
Charlie Kirk, the influential Donald Trump-connected leader of Turning Point USA, partially defended Musk and Carlson’s remarks on Thursday’s episode of his podcast.
Kirk described the tweet that Musk endorsed as “not so great,” but defended the billionaire, celebrating him for committing “thoughtcrime” and being “canceled.”
“Some of the largest financiers of left-wing, anti-white causes have been Jewish Americans,” Kirk said, referring to the accusations that he and Musk are antisemitic as “slander” and “repulsive,” respectively.
Kirk later added, “Tucker Carlson is completely correct by saying this, that the philosophical foundation of anti-whiteness has been largely financed by Jewish donors in the country.” He caveated, “Now to be clear, many of these Jews did not fully understand what they were financing.”
Kevin Robillard contributed reporting.