Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Jewish fascism is a very real, and very disturbing political movement

Jewish fascism is a very real, and very disturbing political movement

Researcher Ben Lorber on how some far-right Jews are trying to make alliances with neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates

Jewish fascism. It's a term that seems cruelly oxymoronic, a mockery of the memories of millions of people who were slaughtered by Adolf Hitler. And yet, Jewish fascism is real thing, an incredibly strange and hateful movement that's growing in both Israel and the United States.

But what does Jewish fascism look like, and why is it a thing? In this episode, I’m joined by Ben Lorber, a senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, a progressive organization that studies right wing extremism. Our discussion is centered around his recent article for Religion Dispatches entitled “Meet the ‘Bronze Age Zionists,’ far-right Jews embracing fascism in the wake of October 7.”

The video of our March 6, 2024 conversation is available. The full transcript of the episode is available to Flux subscribers on Substack or Patreon.

Cover photo: A meme illustration circulated among far-right Jewish online activists showing an extremely muscular Jewish man being admired by a group of women in what appears to be ancient Rome.

Theory of Change is part of the Flux Media network, please support our work and get more content like this by subscribing.

Related Content

Audio Chapters

00:00 — Introduction

09:07 — Why some far-right Jews see themselves as similar to neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates

11:48 — Partial reconciliation between some white nationalists and Jewish fascists

17:54 — Why many political uses of the term “Judeo-Christian” represent fake pluralism

21:50 — “Bronze Age Pervert” and Jewish fascists’ struggles against antisemitic white nationalists

28:53 — Ben Shapiro’s antisemitism and the insidious concept of “bad Jews”

37:12 — Antisemitism is integral to right-wing politics, no matter what pro-Trump advocates may claim

43:48 — Building solidarity: The only effective way to combat antisemitism

Audio Transcript

The following is a machine-generated transcript of the audio that has not been corrected. It is provided for convenience purposes only.

MATTHEW SHEFFIELD: Welcome to Theory of Change, Ben.

BEN LORBER: Thanks, Matthew. It's good to be here.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. So I did want to mention to the audience that you have recently written an article over at Religion Dispatches about the phenomenon of Jewish [00:02:00] fascism. So if anybody wants to dig in even further than what we're going to do in this episode, I definitely recommend people check that out.

I guess this is a very strange topic to a lot of people, as I said in the introduction. So let's maybe first get started on who are these people and what are they doing?

LORBER: Yeah. Well, I think when you have a term like Jewish fascism, could be talking about a, wide range of phenomena, as I'm sure we all know, No there is a really horrific, war, an assault being committed by the far right Israeli government on Gaza right now.

And that's certainly, one locus of it, right? The, extreme right in Israel, largely though, not exc exclusively a religious Zionist, movement has been growing for decades and has been allying itself. With, all kinds of, European ethno nationalist leaders.

And then you also [00:03:00] have minority of the American Jewish community and the, the, global diaspora Jewish community. That's also outlying itself with the far right, around issues, ranging from immigration to black lives matter to, to support for, Israel, to To, the separation of church and state, right?

The, the global Jewish far right, really is very, similar to other far right movements.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, that's right. And and in regards specifically to the idea of the fascists that we're talking about here, a lot of them are directly connected to the Israeli far right. And they are, doing a lot of memes and things like that in reference to, killing Palestinians and that sort of thing. And it's one of the things that you talked about in the article is that, these Jewish fascists are trying to make connections to other. Right wing extremist group.

So including [00:04:00] people who are explicitly antisemitic, including people who are jihadists or Christian supremacists.

LORBER: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, online, something that myself and other researchers have seen since October 7th that I wrote about in my Religion Dispatches article is really a growth in these alt rights meme accounts that are Jewish.

They're run by Jews. Obviously it's possible that, they're anonymous, so they could be lying that they're Jewish, but it's pretty clear that they have a deep familiarity in Jewish religious iconography, in Israeli history, and Jewish identity.

Like much of the global far right, they're championing themes of, hyper masculinity. They're championing, vitriolic, racism both toward Palestinians and toward, like, Arabs and Muslims more broadly.Like much h of the far right, they're virulently opposed to the ceasefire demonstrations that have been very present across the U S and [00:05:00] many Western countries have in recent months.

They see these ceasefire demonstrations, through racist terms, right? They see predominantly Arab and Muslim and Palestinian led demonstrations as a sign of what they called the Great Replacement, right? What they view as like the dangerous, brown hordes who they see as threatening the stability of white Western Christian civilization, or as they'll call it, Judeo Christian civilization, and they're, and so there are these meme accounts who are championing this, but this is also the kind of of rhetoric that you hear from Israeli far right leaders and that we've been hearing for a long time, right? Folks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Naftali Bennett or Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli far-right leaders, they always depict Israel as the kind of frontline defender of Judeo-Christian civilization or the West against the Islamic East. And that kind of clash of civilizations.

And you hear this from [00:06:00] former president Trump. You also hear this in many forms from political leaders across the aisle in the U.S.

So we're really at at a dangerous moment where the Israeli right is really a core part of the global ethnonationalist far right, in some ways, leading the way.

And this is a very dangerous moment for progressive Jews like myself who really have a very different vision of Jewish identity and Jewish safety and all those things.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah that's right. And as you noted, there is a broad cross section of many of these individuals seem to be people with extreme fundamentalist opinions. And they are correct to be able to cite, specific verses in specific books of the Bible to support their ideas, but we do have to make clear that the Jewish tradition and Judaism itself has many conflicting pieces in the Bible has, I mean, has, we don't even know how many [00:07:00] authors the Bible has technically.

But nonetheless, it is the case that many more traditionalist Jewish theologians, are, they're into this idea of authoritarianism. They're into the idea that truth comes from God and they control what God says.

That's a very convenient narrative. And, it's one that. It runs consistently in a lot of religions as well. And it's one of the threads that you do see quite a bit in these individuals that you're talking to.

LORBER: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think one thing that's, very much in common with either the Christian nationalist far right, the Jewish nationalist far right, also the Muslim nationalist far right, as they claim, and, not to mention like Hindu nationalists in India, right, really all religious ethnonationalism, they claim to hearken it back to some kind of primordial in truth that they find in their religious scriptures, right?

They claim that they're the inheritors of an [00:08:00] unbroken tradition stretching back into the very foundations of their religion. But I think that's really misleading, right? These are very modern, movements, right? They were built, the Christian right in the U. S. was built, by ideologues in the seventies and the eighties.

The Jewish nationalists, right? In Israel, I'd really strengthened and got kicked off, post 1967, post the Six Day War. We see similar things with the global Muslim far right. These are obviously all very complicated phenomena, but you know, they're modern phenomena and these people don't have a monopoly on what religious texts mean.

They don't have a monopoly on religious truth. I mean, are inspiring. Yeah, in movements within Judaism and Christianity and Islam that's all very different conclusions from our text. And I think it's always a danger that that nationalists and fundamentalists will, cherry pick in various religious traditions to kind of, bolster their political goals.

And it's really [00:09:00] important to remember that there's a great diversity of religious opinions and traditions out there.

Jewish fascists seeking common cause with neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates

SHEFFIELD: So we've got on the screen your Religion Dispatches article. And so, for people who are listening, you've got some of the memes that are, that they are using. And one of them is a meme of a muscular looking Jewish man who looks like a bodybuilder in front of some women who seem to be admiring him quite a bit and they are apparently Romans based on the architecture behind them.

And, it's, this idea of trying to integrate within the other nationalism said that we're talking about, as you were saying, and one of them as people can, let me just scroll down a little bit further here that you know, one of the, the means here I'll describe the first one, and then you can describe the second one.


So we've got a Confederate soldier depicted on the left side in front of a, confederate battle flag. And then we have a somebody who appears to be some sort of Israeli [00:10:00] soldier with a Israel flag in the background behind him. Now, what's, the image below that? The meme that we're, that's depicted there?

LORBER: Yeah. the image below is in many ways, even, more shocking. It shows. A Jewish man with, and you can't really, see it so well with the way that it's cut off, but he has like a, a Nazi yellow star on him, really in an embrace with a white power activist and he has a pin on his chest that says white pride worldwide.

And so the, the, idea was, is it really counter-intuitive, right? Because white nationalists are deeply antisemitic. They have antisemitic conspiracy theories at the core of their ideology, right? Their, central belief is that a Jewish cabal has taken control of immigration, of government, of media in order to wage war against white people.

So, but in the eyes of the Jewish far right, [00:11:00] this is an alliance they would like to see. They'd like to position the Jewish community within the broader far right, they see common enemies, right. They see, look, the state of Israel is under attack in their view, from brown people, essentially. And white people in the U. S. are under attack in their view from brown people. So let's get together and let's build a new traditionalist nationalist kind of vanguard alliance to save the West.

And that is a really a mockery of thousands of years of Jewish history, where it very much has been a European Christian civilization that oppressed Jews for thousands of years.

So to see it reversed now in this kind of, very, visible way is quite disturbing.

Partial reconciliation between some white nationalists and far-right Jews

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it is. And, it should be noted that, that these outreach efforts while they are rejected by many traditional white nationalist Christian supremacist types, some of them have been reciprocating [00:12:00] and one of them in particular is a guy named Jared Taylor who has been running a magazine and website for many decades called American Renaissance.

And he is very friendly explicitly to to Jews who want to come in and be a member of his organization. And he's had many Jewish people speak at his conferences over the years. And then it's also the case that Richard Spencer, the infamous white nationalist activist had also said for a number of years.

And, he's perhaps changed his public stated views recently, but for the longest time, he said that Israel was a model for what he was trying to do. States. So, I mean, how's, how serious do you think the white nationalist community, if you will, is responding to these overtures by Jewish far right?

LORBER: Yeah, I mean, I think there's a lot of different factors at play. When we say the white nationalist in a community, that might mean very many [00:13:00] different things, right? There are neo-Nazis on the Internet who never want to ally with any Jewish people. They see Jews as the prime enemy.

And many of the neo-Nazis or other white supremacist groups like the America First Corporate Movement, they're actually very, anti anti Israel anti Zionist, but not out of any progressive politics or any real sympathy with Palestinians. It's really like a feature of their antisemitism.

But for others, right, like you mentioned, like Jared Taylor and the MAGA movement more broadly, if you want to consider the, MAGA movement kind of part of white nationalism, they're very welcoming to Jews, right? I mean, the MAGA movement has always tried to recruit different minorities into its coalition, right?

At its core, the base is white, evangelicals, and it very much You know, trades on white grievance and on Christian nationalism, but they've also been very adept at outreach, to African American [00:14:00] communities or to Latinx communities or to Jewish communities. And of course, many Jews in America are also white, but there are also, many Jews of color.

And Jews who are part of these other groups as well. But the global far right is, has always, had multiracial components and, multi-religious components. So I think it's important, to see these overtures, between Jewish nationalists and other, varieties of nationalists as part of this, kind of, diverse global nationalist coalition that that has room for Hindu nationalists.

It has, room for some conservative Muslims. It has room for folks like Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro, right? It's a diverse, movement. And I think more attention has to be paid to the subtle and clever ways that, the MAGA movement tries to make room for for religious and racial minorities.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. No, it is very important. But it's also worth noting that the way that they make this room, it is for people who know their [00:15:00] place that, you know, so for, so Israel is the place where Jews need to be, and India is the place where Hindus need to be, but within those confines of those states, they should have untrammeled power and have not have to have any regard for human rights or, minority rights of any kind. And and then of course you see that with as well with, far right, black politicians and activists like Candace Owens or many of these up and coming podcasters out there as well that are, black far right individuals. And of course, it's worth noting that that Enrique Tarrio, the former head of the Proud Boys is a Black Hispanic man. He uses that as a way to sort of shield his organization from accusations of racism.

LORBER: Yeah, no, that's definitely true. And there's another movement that's worth mentioning here that The National Conservatives, National Conservative [00:16:00] Movement.

They hold conferences every year. Yeah, National Conservatism, they're, primarily based in the U. S., but they've also held conferences all across the West. And, they, are hard-line Christian nationalists, right? They think the U. S. should become a Christian, nation with a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity, right?

Encoded in our laws and our policies and the identity of this country. But ironically enough national conservatism was started by an Israeli Jewish philosopher named, Yoram Hazony. And there are many there are many traditionalist, Jews in that coalition. And I've talked to some of them, like I went to the national conservatism conference in 2022 in Florida.

And I talked to many right wing Jews at that conference who said openly, we want to live in a Christian nation. We don't see it as a threat to us. If the dominant character of the United States is no longer, pluralistic [00:17:00] and there's no longer a separation of church and state. But if if fundamentalist Christianity is enshrined as the law and the culture of the land.

And some even said to me, I'd rather my kids be educated in a Christian private school than in a secular public school, because at least in the Christian private school, they won't be exposed, to liberalism or to transgender rights or to racial justice movements. So, and that was really shocking to me as someone, I mean, Christians have been trying to convert Jews and, trying to convert everyone else for a really long time.

So it's would you really want your. own child to go to a Christian private school for eight hours every day. And these, people were like, yes, because, to them, the greater enemy is the left. I thought that was a really disturbing, but fascinating look into their view.

Why many political uses of the term "Judeo-Christian" represent fake pluralism

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And one person who I think who really kind of. popularized that opinion among American Jews is [00:18:00] Dennis Prager, who is a radio host with a Christian supremacist company named Salem Media. And his interpretations of, Judaism are I mean, he actually has said explicitly that, The role of Judaism now in the 21st century is to convert people to Christianity because we have to preserve the Abrahamic values on DSO.

Since Judaism is not evangelical, well, then, I guess. Making people be Christians and helping Christians sign people up. That's what Jews should do. And like, like, and I, think to some degree, people who are, let's say more devoutly and more traditionally Jewish, they might have a general affinity for somebody like Dennis Prager, but not understand what he's actually trying to do to Judaism, which is destroy it.

LORBER: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's fascinating because people talk a [00:19:00] lot on the right about a Judeo Christian West, right. As if there's this unbroken continuity. In the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, together really formed, the bedrock of whatever, like, we're calling Western civilization.

And that's, kind of an unbroken, 2000 year old, tradition, but really, like I was saying before the whole idea of a Judeo Christian West is. There's also a very recent, very modern invention. It was initially formed right after World War II, after the Holocaust, as a way to kind of make atonement for what, Europe as a whole, and Germany in particular, had just done to the Jews.

And to say, Hey, now the main enemy is communism, right? So we are the Judeo Christian West, and our enemy is communism in the East. And then once the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the enemy became Islamic fundamentalism, [00:20:00] right? So Judeo Christian has always really functioned more to signify who we aren't rather than who we are.

And yeah, I mean, I think it's very disturbing especially given that Christian nationalists, ultimately even though, Orthodox and right wing Jews are, in their coalition. The laws they want to make the laws of the land are disastrous for religious Jews as well. Religious Jewish law is not so anti abortion as, Christian nationalism is, right?

Halakha or traditional Jewish law tends to place a lot more priority on the health and the safety of the birthing parent, right? That's just one example of how if the Christian Nationalist vision really becomes a law of the land, even Orthodox Jews are not going to be unable to fully fulfill their own teachings.

So [00:21:00] it's really mind boggling how this coalition has come to pass. And it's a minority of American Jews, who feel this way, right? Over, over 75 percent of American Jews have voted for Democrats, broadly adhere to liberal values. And it's always been a minority that's willing to cast its lot with the Christian right, but it's a very, vocal minority and a very well funded minority.

So they've been able to capture a lot of the national conversation.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Well, and in addition to Dennis Prager, I think the two other most prominent far-right Jews in the United States are probably a guy who goes by the name of Bronze Age Pervert, and then also Ben Shapiro, the YouTuber and columnist.

"Bronze Age Pervert" and Jewish fascists' struggles against antisemitic white nationalists

SHEFFIELD: So let's first talk about Bronze Age Pervert. Why, are we even having to talk about someone with such a ridiculous pseudonym, and it should be noted. He's. [00:22:00] as we know who this guy is, so but who is he? Who is he and how popular is he?

LORBER: Yeah, I mean it's interesting, the, I'm not sure Bronze Age pervert, I mean he sometimes identifies as, Jewish, I think it was, initially other people on the radical, right, who outed him as having some Jewish ancestry as a way to discredit him, like in their antisemitic worldview, right?

But but he I think it's fascinating that he is at least partially, Jewish because he is a fascist he's part of the manosphere. He, he advocates for a really triumphalist, chauvinist masculinity, virulent hatred of basically every other imaginable under the sun. He explicitly, calls for the rebirth of a kind of like warrior state in the West.

He's just basically as hard-line fascist as you can get, but he's been influential on [00:23:00] his book, Bronze Age, Mindset, which. Basically, counsels, men to kind of embody like a warrior ethos. It was read by members of the first Trump administration. It's read by a lot of the, especially the young, more Gen Z, millennial far right activists who are shaping the policy of a future conservative administration.

And he has a big online cult following. And yeah, a lot of these Jewish fascists who I mentioned it. in my article are sympathetic to Bronze age pervert. And as the memes that you were showing demonstrated, they also believe in this, kind of like ultra masculinist, ultra misogynist warrior mentality that they imagine will lead to the rebirth of the Jewish nation or whatever.

And, there's a lot to be said about the, the crisis of masculinity that's been commented on a lot, in our discourse that could lead a lot of men to, to think that, by going to the gym a lot and by being macho [00:24:00] assholes and by, being completely chauvinist, they will kind of redeem themselves and redeem their people.

There's a lot to be, to be said there, but yeah, he is a very disturbing far right thought leader.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And, he's. It's constantly in tension also, it should be said, as you kind of alluded to earlier with these, avowedly antisemitic individuals like Nick Fuentes and some of the other ones that basically, they're trying to, they're having a really prolonged dispute of how, how much antisemitism is the right amount, because, it is also the case that Bronze Age Pervert and we should also say his name, Costin Alamariu.

He's also not explicitly philo-semitic either. And that's another commonality that he has with some of these other online Jewish fascists.

He trots that out [00:25:00] every so often as a way of trying to push back against the Fuentes types to say: ‘No, look, I really do hate some Jews. I promise they're not all good.’ Like that's and then that's the precarity that all of these people have is that, to what you were saying earlier that, they're trying to carve out a space for themselves among people who hate Jews and they can't see or don't seem to be perturbed by that precarity.

LORBER: Yeah. I mean, one way they do it is by saying like, look, we agree with, white nationalists like Nick Fuentes, that, that liberal progressive Jews are a big enemy and a big threat, right?

they say we also are deeply opposed to, to, to liberal Jews who have, been involved in labor unions or who have been involved in movements like Black Lives Matter, right? But we do like the strong, muscular, militant chauvinist, Israeli leaders [00:26:00] who are currently, proving their manhood by pummeling Gaza to pieces.

Right? And so they try to say, look, these are the good Jews. The Israelis are sometimes, the, the ultra Orthodox Jews in America who are aligned with the Christian Right. But these are the "bad Jews," right? The globalists, the, the cultural Marxists. And so they try to do that. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

I should say that Israeli leaders themselves, also try to play into this dichotomy, right? You have Israeli leader, District Benjamin Netanyahu, who scapegoats George Soros. as the mastermind, behind African refugees and immigrants in Israel, who he's worried are destroying the Jewish majority, right?

So it's really an identical anti Soros scapegoating that's deeply antisemitic that you also see from Viktor Orban in Hungary or Donald Trump in the U. S., right? So, so Bibi Netanyahu is doing his own, like, right? We are the good Israelis who are going to [00:27:00] help lead this, global nationalist coalition, but George Soros or liberal Jews in the U S they are the "bad Jews," right?

So that's one way that they try to integrate themselves in the global far right.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And they also try to, play into racism as well as to use as a shield against antisemitic. and in fact, that is one of the key complaints that they have, I think, have, been somewhat effective against Nick Fuentes to say that, well, Nick Fuentes is not racist enough. He doesn't hate black people the way that we do. And he doesn't regard them as genetically inferior and, deserving to be cast out. And and, it's effective to some degree. And that's part of why I think that he hates. Bronze Age perverts so much for that reason.

So it's, it's worth noting, I think, also.

LORBER: Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean, definitely. And it, it should be said that that really there's a great divide right now in the global [00:28:00] Jewish community. I mean, I've been an advocate for Palestinian, rights. With groups, the Jewish Voice for Peace for almost a decade, now and, progressive, Jews in the U. S. and around the world, including in Israel, have long, fought for civil rights at, And I believe we are, still the majority of the global Jewish community. But I think you see this across many different faith communities, right? There's a reckoning happening within many Christian communities in the U. S. and many denominations around, like, what direction are we going to take? Are we going to side with Christian supremacy and nationalism, or are we going to fight for equal rights? And I think that same argument this playing out in American Jewish communities around the war in Gaza and in the global Jewish community.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. All right.

Ben Shapiro's antisemitism and the insidious concept of "bad Jews"

SHEFFIELD: And then, so I mentioned earlier the other most prominent far right Jew in America is Ben Shapiro. And I, [00:29:00] it's regrettable. I think that a lot of people do not know that Ben Shapiro is antisemitic, severely so, against people that he considers to be "bad Jews." And we'll talk about that concept later, the idea of the "bad Jew" further, but he explicitly showed where his racism and his antisemitic ideas come in a 2014 appearance that he made on a far-right white nationalist antisemitic podcast, which is run by one of the most popular white nationalists in the world, Lana Lokteff, and he did an interview with her to promote a book that he had written and he just went on with her at great length.

(Begin audio clip)

BEN SHAPIRO: There are a lot of Jews in Hollywood that they have a perverse leftist view of history pushed by the Soviet Union that what really destroyed Europe was Christianity. It was not fascism, it was not communism, it [00:30:00] was not leftism, it was Christianity. And therefore, the cure to intolerance is to bash the hell out of Christianity.

And so, there's a war, there certainly is a war on Christianity, it's coming from some people who are secular Jews, it's coming from a lot of leftists. But yeah, I mean, there's no question that evangelical Christians support Israel at a much higher clip and much more substantially than most Jews in America do. Because most Jews in America don't care about Judaism.

(End audio clip)

SHEFFIELD: And then he also went on to complain about putting black characters in films.

(Begin audio clip)

SHAPIRO: I mean, everybody who's bad is by nature a member of the white patriarchy, and everybody who's good is by nature a member of a minority group. This is why you have the stock character who is the wise black friend, right?

It's never the wise white friend, it's always the wise female friend, or the wise gay friend, or the wise black friend.

Because the impression is that the only wise people in our society are members of minorities. Which is not to say, of course, that there are not wise black people. There are plenty of them, right?

I mean, Thomas [00:31:00] Sowell is a very wise black man. But the idea that every person on television who is wise must be of minority persuasion is really very subtle war on the white males in our society. Which, of course, white males can take, but it does pervert the American mind as far as how we view certain segments of the population.

LANA LOKTEFF: Conservatives are always racist, sexist, homophobic. Right now, they're pushing this anti-nuclear family, anti-white, anti-Christian, so what is it that they want here?

SHAPIRO: Well, I mean, what they want is they want to destroy the foundations of American society. And there's no question that this is what they want.

This post is for paid subscribers

Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? Join Matthew Sheffield and his guests as they explore larger trends and intersections in politics, religion, technology, and media.