In late December, The Daily Beast reported on the Jews who ironically wish to support, or be a part of, the largely anti-Semitic alt-right movement. James Kirchick noted that a new website, The Jewish Alternative, had been set up by Joshua Seidel — who once wrote a fawning article about the alt-right for the Forward.
So far, The Jewish Alternative boasts a paltry three contributors: Josh Seidel and the pseudonymous Ari Ben Canaan and Reactionary Jew. Their flagship podcast, The Skype Chat, owes its name to 4chan’s attempt to use coded language to hide racial slurs on social media. In accordance with their code list, “Google” translates to “nigger,” “Skittle” refers to a “Muslim” or “Arab,” and “Skype” is used in place of “Jew” or “kike.”
Self-deprecation aside, the goal of these “alt-right” Jews is clearly to turn their support for white nationalism into a victory for Israel. In a sense, it’s a logical step for fervent defenders of the Jewish state. Liberal Zionists who decry the concept of a white ethno-state could easily be pilloried as hypocrites. Just watch this exchange between a rabbi and Richard Spencer at Texas A&M in which Spencer asks if he “really want[s] radical inclusion into the State of Israel.” The rabbi falls silent, unable to formulate a comeback, and rightfully so given Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and African refugees.
White nationalists, meanwhile, frequently use the existence of Israel as their ace-in-the-hole when defending their goal of an all-white nation. If Jews are allowed to have their own state, then why aren’t whites? It’s an argument used both to normalize white nationalism and attack anti-racists for their perceived hypocrisy.
This racist, symbiotic relationship certainly shows in the first and (so far) only episode of The Skype Chat, hosted by Ben Canaan and Reactionary Jew. Reactionary Jew was an attendee at last year’s infamous NPI conference that ended with shouts of “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” Ben Canaan was curious as to how Reactionary Jew could “interact with people who are sort of openly hostile to Jews at times or critical of Jews.” Reactionary Jew replied that he tried to “walk a line” while speaking to the alt-right.
Reactionary Jew then admitted that he preferred it if an outlet like the Forward refrained from reporting on him because he’s afraid of having his identity revealed. Ben Canaan agreed but added that “Jews who are on the alt-right” have a “duty” to “speak clearly about Jewish identities, to speak clearly about the relations between Jews and whites.”
Ben Canaan: It must be very interesting, being a Jew, being a part of the alt-right, having to interact with people who are sort of openly hostile to Jews at times or critical of Jews. How did you navigate that? I mean, how do you feel about navigating that sort of interesting space?
Reactionary Jew: Well, I mean I was trying to walk a line, you know, between talking to the [alt-right], because I know there’re going to be Jews who listen to this. I don’t actually want sites like Forward to report on that, because they’re gonna — I mean, I use my voice, I didn’t use a voice changer. I don’t want this backlashing against me. It could. You know, I’m prepared for that possibility.
Ben Canaan: Right.
Reactionary Jew: I can’t totally outrule [sic] that. But I don’t want this to turn into some sort of storm that involves my personal life. I do prefer to stay anonymous, overall. Now —
Ben Canaan: Yup. It’s very hard to protect your personal identity when you’re gonna to be speaking out on issues like this, and when you’re going to be a dissident, you’re going to be a heretic, you’re going to be a radical. But I think you’ll agree that it’s a duty that we have.
Especially for Jews. Especially for Jews who are on the alt-right, because we’re sort of stuck between the alt-right — which can be anti-Semitic or, you might say, counter-Semitic, or simply critical of Jews — and the Jewish establishment, which is, of course, extremely critical of any kind of white identity or anything that approaches white ethnonationalism.
So, because we’re stuck between those two groups, I mean I think we really have a duty to speak clearly about Jewish identities, to speak clearly about the relations between Jews and whites. And as much as anonymity can be fragile, I think that’s something that we have to sort of overstep.
Reactionary Jew claimed that “overall I want to be a normal country,” and stated that, “Just like Europe is for Europeans, and just like Africa is for Africans, Israel is for the Jews” — an obvious reference to the white supremacist “mantra” against anti-racism and immigration. He also lauded the anti-Semitic website The Right Stuff for coining the phrase “overseas Israelis” to describe “Diaspora Jews.” Both Reactionary Jew and the TRS crowd, in other words, can agree on at least one point: that Jews belong in Israel and nowhere else.
Reactionary Jew: But yeah, overall I want to be a normal country.
Ben Canaan: Right.
Reactionary Jew: Just like Europe is for Europeans, and just like Africa is for Africans, Israel is for the Jews. And this is what you think of when you think of Israel. It’s ironic. For a long time, a lot of Jews in the Diaspora tried to escape broader Israeli identity and associating it with Jews because a lot of them don’t approve of Israel. Partly because it’s an ethno-state, partly because they don’t like its policies or what they call expansionism — a term I don’t agree with. But it’s not the point.
They try to separate Israeli identity from broader Jewish identity. And what’s ironic is the alt-right is actually not letting them do that. If you look at TRS and websites like that, they’ve started referring to Diaspora Jews as overseas Israelis, and that’s something that could rub a lot of —
Ben Canaan: Yep.
Reactionary Jew: — [liberal] American Jews the wrong way. But —
Ben Canaan: Right.
Reactionary Jew: — I do want Jews to be more, let’s say, consciously associated with the state of Israel.
Finally, Ari Ben Canaan advocated an “alliance with white identitarians” and a “temporary taking on of white identitarian causes.” “I think we wanna take a more active role in really fighting for white interests because those are in our interest too, simply because our identities are so entangled,” he said. “And then once the ethno-state is established — sort of after the revolution as a Marxist might say — then we can say, you know, ‘Our work here is done. Let’s all pack up and go to Israel.'”
Reactionary Jew agreed that Jews should “stand up, even explicitly, for white interests,” but added that he wants to “make clear” the fact that Jews are not white and should not think of themselves as such. The idea of Jewish people as a distinct racial group gained traction in Nazi Germany and is a key belief of the alt-right today. Ben Canaan, however, drew a distinction between “race membership and identity,” and claimed that “mulatto people are in a way both white and black,” meaning that they “can adopt one or another identity” — but not both.
Ben Canaan: So I think what we wanna have in the short term is an alliance with white identitarians that’s a bit more robust than the one you’re suggesting. A sort of temporary taking on of white identitarian causes. I don’t think we should just sit back and say, “Well, you know, really we’re just concerned with our ethno-state. But we like you so here’s some advice, and here’s some lessons that you can learn from our history and from our ethno-state.”
I think we wanna take a more active role in really fighting for white interests because those are in our interest too, simply because our identities are so entangled. And then once the ethno-state is established — sort of after the revolution as a Marxist might say — then we can say, you know, “Our work here is done. Let’s all pack up and go to Israel.” But in the interim I think we’ve gotta have a closer relationship because I think that’s a bit more honest to what the identities of actual Jews are today: complex and fraught with lingering tensions, you might say though they may be.
Reactionary Jew: I agree with you that, yes, we should stand up, even explicitly, for white interests at times, like fighting about immigration. Because initially that’s where a lot of the battle is going to be. But part of the problem that I see of the Jewish Diaspora is Jews thinking that they can be white. Or just thinking that they are white in some meaningful sense.
And I wanna make clear that no, you’re not. You might have imported a lot of the elements of their culture and their thinking. And I don’t even like everything that we’ve imported. I think there are some things that are detrimental — we can do a whole podcast about that, how what we’ve imported from Europeans and what we like about that [and] what we don’t. That’s a very broad topic.
But on the other hand I don’t want us to see ourselves as even implicitly white. I think this is something where we might just disagree. It doesn’t make a practical difference in terms of our current tactics or aims. It’s just a broader — sorry — very specific philosophical disagreement.
Ben Canaan: Yeah. Well I think what’s interesting here, and what might be helpful, is the distinction between race membership and identity, right? So you can be a member of one race. You can be, let’s say, a member of another race. Or you could even, to speak a bit loosely, you can be a member of two races.
I mean I think mulatto people are in a way both white and black. We sort of think in the United States that mulatto people are black, they’re just not white. But I think there is a real sense in which they have a sort of white racial membership. I mean they’ve got one parent who might be full-blooded white. And because they have these sort of competing racial memberships, they can adopt one or another identity. So if you’re half black or you’re half white, your racial membership is sort of ambiguous.
But you can’t adopt both identities, right? You might be able to be a member in some limited sense of both races. But you can’t say “I’m both black” — in the sense that you might identify with West African civilization or with slavery or that sort of thing — “and white” — in the sense that you identify with European civilization and the settlement and colonization of the Americas and Australia and that sort of thing.
The identities are really what’s incompatible, whereas the question of race membership is a little bit more difficult to untangle. So I might throw you a bone and say that our identities are incompatible, and I’ve written some articles on this. But that doesn’t settle the question [of] which racial identity we’re going to adopt.
Right? We can say you can’t identify as a Jew, which is to say to sort of take the Jewish people as your historical forebears, as your in-group, as your historical present and future in-group, while simultaneously taking Europeans to be your historical present and future in-group. However, you might be able to take one or the other.
And I think there are some Diaspora Jews, and I would be disappointed if there were too many of these Jews, who might wanna say, you know, “While I’m racially Jewish in a certain sense, even in a very strong sense, ultimately I’m going to identify with white civilization. I’m gonna to give up my Jewish identity. I’m just gonna view myself as a white person. I’m going to assimilate.”
And I think it’s legitimate — so long as they’re not being subversive, and so long as their interests are honest — to call those Jews white.