The messages started almost immediately.
As my piece went live, new Twitter accounts begun for this purpose began reaching out. â€œIâ€™m a Jew, and Iâ€™ve always felt this way but Iâ€™m afraid to say itâ€ was one common refrain. This was followed up by Facebook messages, invitations to shadowy right-wing Jewish forums, and furtive Kahane supporters verifying my right-wing credentials. Was I really a spy? The right wing Jew is such a rare breed in the wild, some simply didnâ€™t believe it.
The comment section of my article attracted a not-so-rare breed: the â€œget in the ovenâ€ trolls, there to let me know they werenâ€™t cutting me any slack and a Jew remains a Jew. Even here there were gems. One insightful commentator noted that I wasnâ€™t a REAL racist like they were, Iâ€™d merely made the calculation that the modern right was less dangerous to Jews than the modern left. While this fellow underestimated my genuine support of the West qua West, he wasnâ€™t totally wrong, and his next observation was keen: â€œDo you realize how incredibly neurotic your people are, including yourself?â€
There are those in the alt-right who define their movement entirely in respect to White Nationalism. To them, the alt-right is the political vehicle in the battle for white â€œethno-statesâ€ which will replace current democracies in Europe and possibly North America/Australia. Many self-consciously model these states on the example of Israel. The least extreme version of an â€œethno-stateâ€ need not be racially homogeneous, but the political, economic, and cultural power in the state will remain in the hands of the dominant race/ethnicity, who will decide for themselves what will constitute citizenship. As some call this â€œwhite supremacy,â€ the alt-right points out that itâ€™s simply how most of the world works:
So what is an â€œethno-stateâ€ and why would figures in the Alt-Right look to Israel for an example?
The idea has been around for some time, in different names and reiterations. For Alt-Right leaders such as Richard Spencer, (head of the National Policy Institute, a â€œpro white think tankâ€) defining European and North American states using racial criteria is necessary. Spencer, called the â€œKarl Marx of the Alt-Rightâ€ by Glenn Beck, has written at length about the situation facing American and European Whites. What situation? Minority status, loss of culture, and loss of identity in a multi-ethnic state where the standard of living has fallen for everyone. The solution? Make race or ethnic identity the core organizing principle of the state. Germany for the Germans, France for the French, Japan for the Japanese, etc. The policies of these states can vary, but the bedrock principle would be the maintenance of a majority for the dominant ethnic group.
To the Alt-Right, this solves many problems at once. In his book The Ethnostate, Wilmot Robertson (deceased, 2005) talks about what such a state would look like and what policies it would have. The specifics are less important than the idea that race is a â€œshortcutâ€ to fix other issues. Problems with Wall Street? Less of a problem in a White ethno-state, where high trust and cultural/ethnic pride lead to better behavior from executives. Thereâ€™s less of a need for regulation in the first place. Where to put educational resources? Easier question when we arenâ€™t dealing with issues of race and immigration, isnâ€™t it? In an ethno-state, the focus of the government will be a more efficient affair. The time and effort put into bridging ethnic and racial divides in our public institutions will evaporate, leaving societiesâ€™ energy focused on more productive issues. The well-being of such a country could be more objectively measured. Whatâ€™s the standard of living? Whatâ€™s the pay gap? Howâ€™s inequality? These questions are easier to answer without issues of race.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do any states exist with policies intended to keep one ethnic/racial group as a majority? Policies that favor this group? The example given by many Alt-Right figures is Israel. Spencer claims to â€œrespect Israelâ€ as a â€œhomogenous ethno-state.â€ Israeli policies discouraging non-Jewish immigration and encouraging Palestinians to move away from disputed areas are cited by alt-right leaders as examples for their own ethno-state.
Immigration/emigration are part of the story for Israel, but its commitment to the Jewish population is deeper than that. A good description comes from author Sammy Smooha, in the Journal â€œNations and Nationalismâ€. Smooha writes:
Contrary to its selfâ€“image and international reputation as a Western liberal democracy, Israel is an ethnic democracy in which the Jews appropriate the state and make it a tool for advancing their national security, demography, public space, culture and interests.
This is what the Alt-Right theoretically wants. A state in which White people, however defined, have control over the public spaces, the culture, the politics, and the demographic future of their country.
Whatâ€™s that you say? Israelâ€™s not really an ethno-state? They have minorities? Well, of course. Israel has chosen to extend certain rights to non-Jewish citizens, including the right to vote; there are Arabs in the Knesset. This is all true, yet between ethno-states, policies can differ greatly. Thereâ€™s no need for such a state to be free of minorities, as long as the state itself is defined around the majority. Israel, which encourages (and pays for) large orthodox Jewish families, and calls itself the â€œJewish Stateâ€ is certainly such a country.
So why isnâ€™t the alt-right thrilled to have more Jews among its ranks? Surely we could provide the guidance they need to set up their ethno-states. If they are impressed with Israel, why not more engagement with sympathetic diaspora Jews?
Many in the Alt-Right fear Jewish influence on their movement, citing the Neoconservative â€œtakeoverâ€ of traditional Conservatism, and the change in the movementâ€™s character as a result. They fear that Jews may â€œdiluteâ€ the ethno-state they ultimately want to build.
Kevin McDonald, ex Cal State professor and Alt-Right theorist, has written a piece on Jews and the Alt-Right that mentions nineteenth century Austrian-Jewish politician Victor Adler. Adlerâ€™s Austria was the seat of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was under strain from the repeated influx of â€œSlavicâ€ immigrants and refugees.
Difficult questions of identity revolved around German-speaking Austrians. Should â€œGermanâ€ policies, German language, German culture, predominate? Should loyalty to the Emperor and the state trump ethnic loyalty? Adler was a â€œculturalâ€ nationalist, part of the Linz Program of 1882, explicitly calling for the primacy of German culture, language, and policies in the Austrian State. One of Adlerâ€™s co-signers to the Linz Program was Georg SchÃ¶nerer, who advocated for the inclusion of an â€œAryan Paragraphâ€ which would make explicit the connection between German culture and people of German ethnicity.
So what does this have to do with the ethno-state? SchÃ¶nererâ€™s concerns are a model for the concerns of the Alt-Right today. As Austria took in more and more refugees from the east, the relative power of the German-speaking population was reduced. To SchÃ¶nerer and even Adler, the Slavic â€œHungarianâ€ side of the Empire was distinctly inferior to the â€œGermanâ€ side. To allow more Slavic influence at court, and to allow more Slavic people into the intuitions of the state would invariably weaken and degrade Austro-Hungary. The Linz Program signers made their feelings explicit:
We protest against all attempts to convert Austria into a Slavic state. We shall continue to agitate for the maintenance of German as the official language and to oppose the extension of federalism…[W]e are steadfast supporters of the alliance with Germany and the foreign policy now being followed by the empire.
Adler agreed with SchÃ¶nerer regarding the â€œinferiorityâ€ of Slavic culture to German culture, but SchÃ¶nerer took things a step further. Merely preserving German language and administrative customs wasnâ€™t enough. Actual German people needed protection as well. His â€œAryan Paragraphâ€ provided that Germans would receive privileges in the empire including more access to government positions.
SchÃ¶nerer also advocated for a breakup on the Empire along ethnic lines, and his ideas are said to have motivated Polish and Hungarian Nationalists, as well as providing a model for Zionism. Todayâ€™s Alt-Right also feels the need to go beyond â€œcultural nationalismâ€ as well — which means that their ethno-state will not be welcome to any but those who are genetically of its founding ethnic group. To them, race and ethnicity are biological facts.
Thereâ€™s something genetically distinct, for example, about a German person, and this genetic distinctiveness expresses itself in German culture, which then influences what will be the German state. A majority Black country in Africa could attempt to become a German â€œculturally nationalistâ€ state, but in the eyes of the Alt-Right, this would end in failure. Only Jews can make a Jewish state, only Zulus a Zulu State. We can speak each otherâ€™s languages, eat each otherâ€™s food, but there will always be a deep distinction between us.
Adler broke with SchÃ¶nerer over the Aryan Paragraph and soon ended up leading the Austrian Labour Movement and publishing an influential Marxist journal. MacDonald and other Alt-Eight commentators fear that Jews in the Alt-Right would exert a similar influence to that of Adler. Itâ€™s not the disagreement between cultural/ethnic nationalism in and of itself that bothers them, but the possibility that Jews will push the former and vilify the latter, all while taking on the mantle of the alt-right. Seems a bit farfetched? Perhaps, but who would have thought that Neoconservatives would take the mantle of American Conservatism from John Birch?
The Alt-Right is mixed on Jewish help, but nuanced. MacDonald is still open to the idea of Jews â€œalliedâ€ to the alt-right, assuming they are â€œvocal critics of the Jewish community and its role in the dispossession of European-Americans.â€ More nuance comes from a recent press conference given by top alt-right luminaries including Spencer and Jared Taylor. In Taylorâ€™s own words:
â€œI tend to believe that European Jews are part of our movement,â€ Taylor said. â€œI think it is unquestionable there has been an overrepresentation by Jews [among] individuals that have tried to undermine white legitimacy.â€
But, he said, the same is true of Episcopalians.
â€œDoes that mean all Jews are enemies of the white race? I reject that,â€ Taylor said.
Taylor has long been a â€œwhite nationalistâ€ writer, well known for being one of the â€œmoderatesâ€ in the movement. His views were well-expressed in a recent NPR interview. What he wants is fairly simple: freedom of association on private property. If (non-Jewish) whites wish to have an all-white club, private school, or neighborhood, government shouldnâ€™t intrude. Is this, in and of itself, anti-Semitic? Will I be on my way to the oven? Not sure, but I managed to avoid oppressing the Goyim on my way to Jewish Summer Camp, so whoâ€™s to say Whites couldnâ€™t exhibit similar restraint? This really isnâ€™t terribly different than current American policies. Taylorâ€™s â€œethno-stateâ€ would be far milder than Israel!
Regardless of individual feelings on the Alt-Right, White People, or ethno-states, there is more nuance here than most will give credit for. Media accounts (Betsy Woodruff in Daily Beast) of the NPI Press Conference claim the participants â€œhate Jewsâ€, despite Taylorâ€™s clear stance to the contrary:
Covering the NPI Press Conference for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Ron Kampeas writes:
â€œI want my grandchildren to look like my grandparents,â€ Taylor said, â€œnot like Fu Manchu or Whoopi Goldberg or Anwar Sadat.â€
There were nods of agreement and more pledges to continue the conversation in the Willard bar.
As the room emptied, I prayed silently that Taylor would enjoy good health long enough to behold a grandchild with a pointed goatee, thick braids, foot-long fingernails and a prayer bump, and I recalled his opening remarks, and his overarching predicate for the existence of racial differences.
Most Jewish people would have a similar reaction to Woodruff and Kampeas. Hostility, referring to the Alt-Right leaders as â€œracistâ€, mocking their desire for racial and ethnic purity. But why? Are figures like Spencer racist for wanting a White ethno-state? Is Taylor to be condemned for wanting his grandchildren to look like him? (and, it could be assumed, wanting the same or better standard of living for them?) Why canâ€™t we turn the lens around for a moment? What are we really quibbling over? Is it the location of Spencerâ€™s hypothetical ethno-state? What if it was Norway? Is it a problem that White people want to be around other White people? Want their grandchildren to be like them?
I want my grandchildren to be Jewish, I want the Jewish state of Israel to retain its majority Jewish population and character. I want Israel to be there for me and my grandchildren. I want Judaism and the Jewish people to survive. Am I any different than Spencer? Are you?