Kahanists Embrace Trump — But Are Divided on ‘Alt-Right’

The Forward:

A Twitter user known as AltRabbi wrote online, “Closest thing jews have had to alt right was kahane.”

AltRabbi is known online as a religious Jew who is sympathetic to the “alt-right.”

“Secular Jews in US are so severly [sic] SJW that they are lost,” he wrote, using an acronym for “social justice warrior,” a pejorative term for activists.

Hundreds of people watch Torah classes organized by Baron, who admires the ways the “alt-right” has harnessed the internet.

“There are some lessons to learn from them in the way they reach out,” he said.

A recent flare-up in Whitefish, Montana, brought the generational divisions of the movement into sharp relief.

Neo-Nazis pledged to carry out an armed march against local Jews in Whitefish, where Spencer lives part time. Spencer did not endorse the march, and quietly distanced himself from the anti-Semitic campaign, but the clear ideological links between the “alt-right” and Nazism were laid bare.

This caused members of the older JDL generation to take a stand.

Meir Weinstein, national director of Canada’s JDL, told the Forward he was more than willing to confront Spencer and neo-Nazis in person.

“That guy’s going to get his head kicked in. He’s a Nazi, this guy’s a Nazi,” Weinstein said of Spencer in a phone interview.

But others, like Stern, are taking a more tempered approach: “We’re not going to work with Nazis — God forbid — but there are factions within the ‘alt-right’ where there is a commonality.”

Stern hopes that Spencer might “denounce all forms of Nazism.” Spencer has complicated views on Jews and Israel and does not call himself a Nazi — preferring instead white “identitarian.” Still, it is unlikely that he will “disavow” any of his neo-Nazi supporters.

In an email to the Forward, Stern asked: “Why shouldn’t we associate ourselves with a charismatic and extremely popular rising figure within the MAGA movement who agrees with us on most issues, but has some problematic followers?”

In Stern’s eyes, “white nationalism is not akin to Nazism,” and white nationalists “do not necessarily hate Jews or non-whites.” Sterns message went on: “They simply want the best for their race. And Jews are white too btw, so why should we object to that?”

“We are looking to make an alliance with people on the right, but that doesn’t include people who you would call Nazis,” Baron said, trying to clarify the Kahanist camp’s position. “We do connect to people who have an American nationalist viewpoint.”

While it is unlikely that Spencer will develop a formal alliance with Kahanist elements, both they and the more established JDL movement are part of a swell of nationalist groups angling for revivals, according to researchers who monitor radical groups.

“This time seems to be ripe for extremist movements of all types,” said Oren Segal, the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this Kahanist ideology grow online.”

Faybyshenko has high hopes for his re-energized movement.

“It’s something being reborn,” he said. “Especially after the election results, we now see that people are waking up.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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