The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Britain’s populist party has an Infowars editor for a spokesman. Jewish leaders are worried.

Portrait of Alex Jones, Texas-based radio talk-show host of Infowars. (James Cheadle/Alamy) (James cheadle / Alamy Stock Photo)
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It’s not that hard to find the Infowars articles that Jewish groups worry about.

A quick search of the site pulls up an article suggesting the U.S. government perpetrated the recent attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue as a false flag operation. (It’s the “latest move by the Deep State to sow civil unrest and effect [sic] the historic upcoming midterm election,” the site’s authors write.) There’s one calling Jewish philanthropist George Soros a “Nazi collaborator” — and dozens of others accusing him of funding a migrant caravan in Mexico and attacks on Supreme Court justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. That’s just in the last few weeks.

Jewish leaders in Britain say the site — which regularly uses words such as “globalist,” a term the Israeli newspaper Haaretz calls an anti-Semitic slur and “dog whistle” for white supremacists — is biased against Jews. Now, some are calling on the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) to cut ties with the website.

UKIP is the far-right, Euroskeptic party responsible for pushing Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum, in which a narrow majority of voters chose to leave the European Union. Last summer, the party allowed Paul Joseph Watson, an “editor at large” for Infowars, to join the party. He campaigned for the group, particularly among younger voters on social media. A support video he made was featured prominently on the organization’s website. (Another person brought in to sell UKIP was Mark Meechan, fined earlier this year for posting a video of his girlfriend’s dog giving Nazi salutes in response to phrases including “gas the Jews.")

Jewish groups said they are concerned about UKIP’s connection to Watson and Infowars. A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews told the Guardian newspaper that Infowars is “propagating conspiracy theories and dog-whistle antisemitism.”

“We call on the party leadership to publicly and unequivocally disassociate themselves from these views and to expel any members who are found to hold them," he said.

“The seepage of anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories into mainstream politics encourages hatred and undermines democracy," a spokesman for the Community Security Trust (CST), which works against anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, told the Guardian. "Rather than shunning these dangers, UKIP appears to be embracing them; and in the process is losing any claim it once had to be a respectable, mainstream party.”

John Mann, a Labour Party politician who chairs the British parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, called Infowars “vile and dangerous.”

“In a climate of political uncertainty, conspiracy theories have been rising in popularity. Infowars is notorious for its part in feeding such conspiracies and at the root of many, if not all, of these myths is a hatred and suspicion of Jews," he told the Guardian. "Any party serious about tackling antisemitism and racism would do well to cut all ties with Infowars.”

Infowars founder Alex Jones has repeatedly attacked his critics for calling him anti-Semitic. Watson has avoided publicly endorsing many of Jones’s most far-fetched conspiracy theories.

“Watson is frequently the subject of attacks by actual anti-Semites because of his vociferous support for Israel. He is no more responsible for the comments of Alex Jones than Andrew Neil is for the comments of the director general of the BBC,” a spokesman for UKIP told the Guardian. “This line of questioning, built on cynical supposition and innuendo, is a clumsy attempt to smear Mr. Watson and UKIP for political gain. To comment any further would give it a credibility it does not deserve.”

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