Antisemitism remains a pervasive challenge throughout the West, influencing a variety of violent and non-violent extremists across the political spectrum. In the United States, Jews are the targets of the majority of hate crimes committed against any religious group. While the extremists behind many of these attacks come from many movements, they are all united by a common antisemitic worldview. From Islamists to neo-Nazis and white supremacists, from black supremacists to far-left extremists, each has incorporated antisemitism and antisemitic tropes as key components of their ideologies, and as a means of mobilizing followers to perpetrate acts of violence.
Report: Antisemitism as an Underlying Precursor to Violent Extremism in American Far-Right and Islamist Contexts
Antisemitism is pervasive throughout several categories of American extremist movements, both
violent and non-violent. American extremists incorporate antisemitic tropes and narratives in every level of their worldviews, using them to help construct “us/them” dichotomies and wide-sweeping conspiracies that are essential to their movements.
During the past several decades, the American extremist movements that have been among the most violent—specifically, far-right and jihadist groups—have used antisemitism to target Jewish people, Jewish houses of worship, Jewish community institutions, and Americans supporting the Jewish state of Israel.
Antisemitism, as a belief and world-structuring theory, can at times serve as a gateway issue for individuals into further radicalization to violent extremism. Nonviolent and violent iterations of the same extremist milieus often share antisemitic views as central elements of their belief system, and thus antisemitism constitutes a linkage between activist and violent extremist segments of the same movement.
Several case studies of violent American extremists, representing far-right and jihadist movements respectively, demonstrate that antisemitism can be an integral part of American extremists’ progression through the radicalization process and in justifying terrorist attacks.
Based on this report’s finding that antisemitism is foundational to multiple violent extremist movements in the United States, counter-extremism practitioners and scholars may consider incorporating antisemitism as a diagnostic factor for extremist radicalization.