How Hating Jews Brings Together Murderous Fanatics of All Stripes

February 9, 2023 | Lorenzo Vidino
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Although Jews make up less than 3 percent of the U.S. population, attacks against them constituted some 60 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2019. Lorenzo Vidino takes a careful look at those who commit or applaud such crimes, and presents some illustrative examples:

Nicholas Young, a District of Columbia metro transit police officer, was a fixture in the local DC neo-Nazi scene in the early 2000s. Sporting an SS tattoo on his arm, he collected German World War II memorabilia and attended parties in full Nazi uniform with like-minded Reich enthusiasts. But at some point Young also became interested in Islamism, eventually converting to Islam and spiraling down a rabbit hole of jihadist websites while never abandoning his Nazi sympathies. He soon caught the attention of the FBI, which targeted him in a sting operation that led to his arrest in 2016 for attempting to provide support to Islamic State. He was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

The Nazi-Islamist nexus may seem like a strange one, but Young was ahead of his time. . . . Because of social media, which allows for an unprecedented degree of interconnectivity among extremists of all stripes, anti-Semitic tropes, texts, and memes are shared across ideological milieux.

[E]ven when their targets are not Jews, Jews are often on the mind of America’s militant right-wing extremists. The individuals who carried out the attacks in El Paso in 2019 and Buffalo in 2022, which openly targeted Latinos and Blacks, respectively, left behind manifestos that spoke about Jews. Like many others in their ideological milieu, they embraced the so-called “great replacement” theory that depicts Jews as the sinister masterminds of a plot to replace white people in Western nations with other ethnic groups.

Like the right-wing militants who take inspiration from jihadist attacks on Jews, American Islamists are equally interested in right-wing extremism. That was the case of Muslim convert Damon Joseph, who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for planning attacks against two synagogues in the Toledo, Ohio, area. . . . Joseph was inspired by the attack against the Tree of Life synagogue [in Pittsburgh] despite the fact that the shooter was not an Islamist but a right-wing militant. Joseph went on to publish an anti-Semitic manifesto and shared statements expressing his desire to die a martyr.

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