Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and de facto leader of the so-called “alt-right,” described himself to a reporter on Israel’s Channel 2 News as “a white Zionist” on Wednesday evening and argued that Israelis “should respect someone like me.”
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The anchor had asked Spencer about the role of “alt-right” supporters in a march in Charlottesville, Viriginia on Friday, in which torch-bearing white nationalists shouted “Jews will not replace us!” in protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
“Let’s be honest,” Spencer said, when asked whether such slogans constitute anti-Semitism. “Jews are vastly over-represented in what you could call ‘the establishment,’ that is, Ivy League educated people who really determine policy, and white people are being dispossesed from this country."
Asked how the mainly Jewish audience at home should take his remarks, Spencer responded:
“... an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. Just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”
This isn’t the first time Spencer has tried to wink at Israel. Last December, he told Haaretz that he “respects Israel” and that he would “respect” the decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In an August 2010 article called “An Alliance with the Jews,” published on his Radix Journal website, Spencer argued that Israel could become an ally of white nationalists in the United States. He wrote that in the face of the threat of nuclear weapons in countries hostile to Israel, there would be “hard-liners” in Israel who would prefer to see the extreme right in the White House.
Spencer, however, has also made headlines and sparked widespread outrage by making anti-Semitic remarks and engaging in Holocaust denial. Last December, for instance, the "alt-right" leader praised Trump's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that failed to mention Jews and anti-Semitism as an important step, dubbing it the "de-Judaification" of the Holocaust.
Jewish activists, Spencer wrote in a short post for his website Altright.com, have long insisted on making the Holocaust “all about their meta-narrative of suffering” and a way to “undergird their peculiar position in American society.”
Spencer, a onetime Duke University PhD student, championed Trump through the presidential campaign – and though he has been critical of the president at times, seems to have come around to Trump. While he claims he's not a Nazi, Spencer also does not outright condemn Hitler, calling him a “historical figure.”