Gavin McInnes, a former founder of the popular online media company VICE and current YouTube personality, has made a series of grossly antisemitic comments during and following a trip to Israel.
Following a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial and museum, McInnes said that he thinks that the Israeli Government and Jewish organisations funded his trip and they “assume we’re going to listen to all this shit we get fed”, having previously said he was “at the Holocaust museum, or the ‘Holocaust’ museum — no, I’m just kidding”. Read together, these statements clearly indicate that McInnes may believe in some form of Holocaust denial. He then continues “I felt myself defending the super far-right Nazis just because I was sick of so much brainwashing and I felt like going, ‘Well, they never said it didn’t happen. What they’re saying is it was much less than six million and that they starved to death and weren’t gassed, that they didn’t have supplies'”.
Though he did clarify that “I’m not saying it wasn’t gassing. Please don’t take that clip out of context, but that’s what the far-right nuts are saying”, it is quite clear from his previous statement that he has sympathy for those who deny the Holocaust and is all-too-happy to malign those who teach others about the Holocaust as engaging in “brainwashing”, which as a standalone statement is often a favourite term of Holocaust deniers.
He then attempts to minimise the Holocaust by pointing out that “Mao killed 70 million… Stalin, with the Bolsheviks, killed 30 million. But the Russians don’t talk about that. They don’t even necessarily see it as a horrible thing”. Nobody is denying these events, but in bringing them up in this matter, McInnes is committing a false equivalence. Far worse, he then went on to lay the blame for the starvation of Ukrainians under Stalin on Jews, laughing as he says “I think it was ten million Ukrainians who were killed. That was by Jews. That was by Marxist, Stalinist, left-wing, commie, socialist Jews”.
He also asked “Wasn’t the Treaty of Versailles, wasn’t that disproportionately influenced by Jewish intellectuals?”, in a statement which seemingly blames Jews for the rise of the Nazis.
The idea that Jews somehow provoked Germany at Versailles is a common thread in the thinking of far right antisemites, as is the idea that the atrocities of the Soviet Union can be attributed to Jewish influence, but one need not be familiar with the common context in which these views are expressed to recognise that blaming Jews for some of the worst events in history is grossly antisemitic. According to the Definition of Antisemitism, “Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong””.
On Tuesday he uploaded a video called “10 things I hate about Jews”, which he later renamed to “10 things I hate about Israel”, in a blatant display of trying to dress up his antisemitism as criticism of Israel. In the video he seems to imply that Jews should be more grateful to America for its role in defeating the Nazis, describes Hebrew as a “spit language” and says that Jews have a “whiny paranoid fear of Nazis that’s making them scared of Christians and Trumps who are their greatest allies”. The idea that being worried about Nazism makes Jews “whiny” or “paranoid” is both laughable and extremely belittling, particularly against the backdrop of rising antisemitism in Trump’s America that Trump does not seem committed to tackling in any meaningful way, having axed a special State Envoy dedicated to combating Antisemitism in America as a part of his budget cuts.
He later claimed that he made the comments in the hope that Jews would refute his statements, saying “I landed, and I’ve got tons of Nazi friends. David Duke and all the Nazis totally think I rock…no offense, Nazis, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t like you. I like Jews”. The sincerity of such a statement is obviously quite dubious, particularly because it was followed with the comment that Israelis should “embrace Christianity”.
McInnes drew praise from antisemite and former head of the KKK David Duke, who shared a photograph of McInnes holding one of his books, called “Jewish Supremacism”, a vile antisemite work which essentially attempts to reassert the lies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, passing itself off as academic research. However, we cannot be sure if the image is doctored or not. Nonetheless, even if it is, drawing praise from Duke should be a firm reminder that one has strayed down a very dangerous path.
McInnes left VICE in 2008 and has since been involved with Rebel Media, a right wing Canadian publication whose writers have been extremely supportive of Trump, one of whom described Hasidic Jews as “cult-like” people who they wouldn’t want in their neighbourhood, and also include Tommy Robinson, the founder of the Far Right “English Defence League” who is associated with the anti-Islam “Pegida” group whose founder had to resign after posing as Adolf Hitler and describing immigrants as filth”, “trash” and “brutes”. One of their former writers authored a book called “Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants, and Islam Screwed My Generation”.