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US Jewish group accuses Republicans of using antisemitism for political gain

Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Scott Perry taking advantage of rise in antisemitic spaces online for 'their own political power', says American Jewish Congress
Georgia Congressional Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks during a campaign-style rally for Donald Trump in Wellington, Ohio, on 26 June (AFP/File photo)

The American Jewish Congress has accused several Republican lawmakers of using antisemitism as a means to mobilise extremism for their own political gain, particularly via alternative social media platforms. 

The AJCongress report, released on Monday and entitled "Jews Are Not A Prop", accuses Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Scott Perry of consistently engaging in antisemitism while empowering hate groups in order to boost their right-wing credentials.

All three lawmakers have close ties with and have been endorsed by former US President Donald Trump.

'Antisemitism is used to create cohesion between extremist groups. Jews are being used as a prop'

- Aaron David Miller, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The group said the "core conclusion" of its study on domestic terrorism - its fifth such report - found that "politicians are using antisemitism as a tool to mobilize extremism and their own political power". 

"Extremist groups and those supporting dangerous ideologies are organizing. Some seek to take control of America through the ballot box, others reject the democratic process entirely and advocate direct and violent action," the group warned. 

The report notes that new virtual spaces and alternative social media platforms, which are increasingly used by antisemitic extremists, are also being utilised by far-right lawmakers who have repeatedly invoked problematic and sometimes antisemitic stances. 

"Alternative social media spaces are forming a new online superhighway to radicalization, violent extremism, and domestic terrorism. A community that accepts and thrives on hate is growing in these online spaces, creating new opportunities for those who wish to embed antisemitism and racism into American society," the report continued.

Using Jewish symbols as props

Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow and advisory board member at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Israel's Haaretz newspaper that he agreed with the report that "there is a danger lurking in the new alternative social media platforms". 

"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," Miller said.

In Monday's report, the group noted Representative Greene's use of a social media platform called Gab, which has become known for the spread of uncensored white supremacists rhetoric. 

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The AJCongress report also highlighted Greene's attempts to draw a comparison between Covid-19 safety measures to the Nazi’s racist laws that targeted the Jews of Europe for annihilation in the Holocaust. 

"She used Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David, as a prop in her campaign. Her base loved it, and it wasn’t due to the faulty symbolism," the group said. 

"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."

While Greene apologised for her comments three weeks later, the AJCongress said it rejected the lawmaker's sentiment as disingenuous. 

"Greene 'apologized' in a staged press conference while refusing to withdraw statements comparing her political opponents to Nazis. She made a point of having just visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, turning that too into a prop… Her apology was not shared with her base on social media. It was purely for the cameras. We reject it," the group said in a statement that accompanied Monday's report. 

Limiting spread of antisemitism 

The AJCongress took further issue with Representative Gosar's defending of Greene, as well as his references to the "America First" movement and his organised fundraising with prominent white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. 

Regarding Representative Perry, the group objected to his comparison of Democrats to Nazis, as well as his previous promotion of white supremacist conspiracies around population replacement.

The report said that the normalisation of antisemitism could be limited by prohibiting members of Congress and other US government employees from using official resources to engage with social media platforms that "lack reasonable efforts to prevent the spread of antisemitism". 

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"Reasonable efforts include having a policy to prohibit antisemitism, or hate speech more broadly, and reasonable efforts to enforce that policy," the group noted.

It also recommended that candidates be required to provide transparency on solicitation of political donations "to ensure those who use antisemitism platforms as a political fundraising base can be held accountable at the ballot box". 

The AJCongress also called on the State Department to widen its tracking of global antisemitism by investigating alternative technology spaces.

"American based platforms and those who own and operate them should face penalties if they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent radicalization and that radicalization leads to acts of foreign or domestic terrorism," it continued. 

"Turning a blind eye to antisemitic extremism, responding only once it crosses the line into incitement of imminent and likely violence, is unacceptable. Left unchecked on alternative social media platforms with a susceptible audience, such extremism inevitably builds and intensifies until it leads to violence."