While conventional wisdom has long held that Republicans, and particularly evangelicals, are the staunchest allies of Israel in the U.S., the latest bloody exchanges between the state and Hamas militants have revealed fault lines in that critical base of support. Rather than close ranks to back Israeli attacks on Gaza, some right-wing influencers have turned on each other.
For instance, Islamophobic conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer and pro-Russia MAGA influencer Jackson Hinkle, who mere weeks ago appeared to have a friendly relationship on X (formerly Twitter), are now sniping at each other over the conflict. Loomer, who is Jewish, has endorsed Israel’s actions, while Hinkle took a stance against their response to Hamas’ initial surprise attack, disputing reports from their military. He is now encouraging users to subscribe to his premium content for $3 a month to support his work “exposing Zionist propaganda.” Loomer, in turn, is accusing him of sympathizing with Hamas and buying bot followers (his audience has grown by hundreds of thousands this month alone). On Wednesday, she tweeted that Hinkle has “gone off the deep end.”
Conservative podcaster and Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro has, like Loomer, been unwavering and adamant in his belief that Israel’s response to Hamas has been justified. But that doesn’t sit well with others on the right, like Elijah Schaffer, a podcaster and writer for Gateway Pundit, who on Wednesday described one of Shapiro’s tweets as a “call for genocide” against the Palestinian people, comparing it to the Nazi rhetoric of Adolf Hitler. In July, he had posted a selfie with Shapiro from 2018, thanking him for advice at the time about launching a right-wing program.
Charles C. Johnson, an alt-right political activist and Holocaust denier, tweeted that Shapiro was in essence an Israeli asset and demanded that he register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It’s not the first time Johnson has leveled such claims at Shapiro, but in the heat of the Israel debate, they’re getting far more traction. This particular post resurfaced on Gab, a “free speech” social media platform rife with antisemitic extremism, where failed Senate candidate Sam Parker used it as a pretext to declare that Shapiro is an agent of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. “Spread it on Twitter and Gab,” Parker wrote. “He’s pushing war propaganda like crazy!”
Shaprio has also sparred here and there with red-pill mansophere influencer and alleged human trafficker Andrew Tate, who has accused Israel of committing war crimes and the American right of “screaming for genocide” against the Palestinian people. (Shapiro said in an interview earlier this year that he agreed with many of Tate’s “diagnoses” about how men have lost their way, if not his proposed solutions to this issue.) Hinkle has taken to bashing Shapiro as well, though he took no apparent interest in his pro-Israel views before the latest outbreak of violence in the region.
Charlie Kirk, founder and director of Turning Point USA, joined the Republican faction siding with Israel. But this position has been met with resistance from others in the conservative movement. A tweet of Kirk’s claiming that Hamas uses women and children as human shields drew a wave of abusive replies from fellow right-wingers, including former MMA fighter Jake Shields, an anti-vaxxer who recently proposed that Donald Trump serve as Speaker of the House. Shields, who recently agreed with Kirk’s assertion that “Whiteness is great” and was photographed with him at TPUSA’s AmericaFest in 2022, is now urging Kirk to “reconsider” his support for Israel and mocking him for thinking he can “solve” the long-running conflict. On Wednesday, Shields complained that his anti-Israel posts led people to label him an antisemite, which earned him a rebuke from Chris Loesch, husband of conservative radio host and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. In the past, Shields had tweeted amiably with both of them; on Tuesday, he called Chris a Nazi for calling him an antisemite.
Curiously, Kirk has meanwhile faced the critique that he is anti-Israel, due to his speculation during a podcast interview that its government might have had advance knowledge of the Hamas offensive and issued a “stand down” order to let it proceed. Ben Domenech, Fox News contributor and husband of Meghan McCain, pounced on this comment, predicting that Kirk’s continued leadership of Turning Point USA signaled the right would have an antisemitism problem “that will follow them into the coming elections.” Chaya Raichik, an Orthodox Jew who runs the anti-LGBTQ hate account Libs of TikTok, came to Kirk’s defense, deeming Domenech’s accusation “laughable.” (Last year, Domenech praised Libs of TikTok for publicizing views from an “ideological bubble.”) Raichik did concede, however, that she’s “seen some alarming and anti-semitic posts from TPUSA affiliates.”
Looming in the background of all this infighting — and perhaps the only far-right operator who relishes the idea of a Republican schism over Israel — is Nick Fuentes, the Hitler-loving white supremacist whose “groyper” troll army pushes an ultranationalist “America First” agenda. During one of his latest livestreams, a beaming Fuentes listed a number of far-right figures he feels are drifting toward the groyper worldview, including Trump, Kirk, Schaffer, Alex Jones, and Tucker Carlson, expressing his surprise and delight at “finally getting to a confrontation” on “the Jewish question,” or “a point where that line is being crossed.” The so-called “Jewish question” — or “JQ,” as it is sometimes styled on social media — is a phrase that has carried down through generations of antisemitic propaganda.
https://twitter.com/classicsgroyp/status/1714135696317747276The battle of these online personalities mirrors that of GOP politicians when it comes to U.S. involvement in the present Middle East crisis. Except, of course, the influencers can test the waters of more extreme opinion and misinformation. And it’s altogether possible the more toxic elements of their debate will float up into mainstream discourse, just as Fuentes is hoping. That bodes ill for the West’s understanding of an already chaotic upheaval — but worse still for the people suffering through it.