Much of the MAGA right seems determined to exploit the Israel-Hamas war to drum up anti-Muslim sentiment and xenophobia. In a newsletter last week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claimed she was “swarmed by Hamas protesters” during a rally for Palestinian rights at the Capitol. She then referred to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) as a “Hamas caucus member.” Others conflate this new crisis with the attacks on immigration. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and some of her far-right colleagues are obsessed with the idea that Hamas and Hezbollah fighters are pouring into the United States over the Mexican border.
For those who want to position themselves even further to the right of MAGA, this presents a problem: There’s simply not much room on that end of the horseshoe before you meet the other side. And that’s exactly where far-right livestreamer Stew Peters has found himself. Over the last few weeks, Peters has been regaling his 442,000 followers on X and his 546,000 viewers on the far-right platform Rumble with a steady stream of content that appears to be in support of the people of Palestine—but really has much more to do with his long history of antisemitism.
In the first few days after the conflict began, Peters seemed to be suggesting that the Hamas attack never happened. “They REALLY expect us to believe that a dozen bozos hang-glided into a commie peace rave and kidnapped 40 of the most beautiful women in Israel?” he posted on October 9. Over the next few days, his much more explicit target was Israel itself and the Jews living there. He began by asserting that all Israeli Jews are anti-Christian impostors, merely posing as members of the ancient religion of Judaism. “Judeo-Christian is an oxymoron. Christian Zionist is an oxymoron,” he posted on October 18. On October 24, he added his own dubious historical context: “The current people living in the nation-state created in 1948 calling itself Israel are not related to the Biblical Abraham.” Later that day, invoking a classic antisemitic conspiracy theory about the Rothschilds, a Jewish family that created a banking business in the 18th century, Peters posted, “This is all a LAND GRAB by Lord Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, and Israel.”
Katie McCarthy is an investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League. While ADL has faced criticism for its endorsement of Israeli-sponsored violence, the group’s Center on Extremism, where McCarthy works, focuses on hate speech and disinformation rather than geopolitics. McCarthy, who has been documenting Stew Peters’ extremist views for several years, noted that almost all of the content on Peters’ show since October 7 has been about Israel. Peters, she says, is part of a group of far-right influencers who are “trying to exploit the crisis in Israel and Gaza right now to promote their own hatred for the Jewish community.” Indeed, recent livestream episode teasers include “Orthodox Jews SPIT on Christian Tourists!” and “Israel’s Deal With Pfizer to Use Country as Lab Rats!” She noted that antisemitic extremists have a decades-long history of exploiting conflicts in Israel to promote their own agenda. Since the current war began, ADL has documented 168 antisemitic incidents in the United States, compared to 109 during the same time period last year.
Devin Burghart, executive director of the anti-extremism think tank Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, sees Peters’ embrace of the anti-Israel cause as a bid for more followers. After all, the last time Peters captured broad public attention was with his 2022 documentary Died Suddenly, which alleged that Covid vaccines were causing blood clots that killed thousands of people. But now that interest in the pandemic is waning, says Burghart, “He sees the current conflict between Israel and Hamas as an opportunity for him to carve out some space to differentiate himself from a now crowded far-right media sphere.”
Case in point: In a recent guest appearance on Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ livestream show Infowars, Peters challenges Jones’ defense of Israel, claiming that supporting it is inherently unchristian. He drowns out Jones, prattling on about the “secular, pro-homo-pro-abortion state of Israel” and making outlandish claims like “mentioning Jesus in Israel will get you arrested and possibly killed.” Toward the end, he tells Jones that he believes post-Holocaust Eastern-European Jews should have no claim to Israel. “Why does America accept the lie that Eastern Europeans from Ukraine are somehow Bible Israelites?” he thunders. “If you’re a run-of-the-mill African-American jailhouse Muslim, you’re not Arab.”
Peters isn’t the only right-wing influencer trying to make a name for himself with a contrarian take on the Israel-Hamas war. When prominent Canadian antivaccine activist Chris Sky expressed his anti-Israel views on X, he was barred from speaking at disgraced former National Security adviser Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken America Tour, which has emerged in the last few years as a kind of a traveling circus of MAGA influencers, from Eric Trump to lobbyist Roger Stone to anti-vaxxer and January 6 insurrectionist Simone Gold. On a recent appearance on Stew Peters’ show, Sky complained about his previous experience at the ReAwaken Tour. “I had to sit through a prayer for Israel in the name of Jesus Christ, do you understand how ridiculous that is?” he asked, before repeating an antisemitic trope about the Jews having killed Jesus.
Peters’ own producer Lauren Witzke, a far-right, QAnon-promoting activist with close ties to the white nationalist Groyper movement has been speculating on X that the Hamas attack on October 7 was actually orchestrated by Israel. “Maybe it really is Israel’s 9/11,” she mused, referencing the conspiracy theory that the US government was secretly responsible for the attacks of September 11. In another post, she criticized American support for Israel: “It appears that Israelis do NOT want Christians there in the Holy Land, so why would America, a Christian Nation, send their troops over there to fight and die in their Holy War?”
On X, other influential accounts in this troubling little corner of the anti-Israel far-right include Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis, an anti-vaccine and anti-trans activist with nearly 900,000 followers; Jackson Hinkle, who garnered 1.4 million followers on X for his pro-Russia content; and Tristan Tate, brother of manosphere star Andrew, with 2.5 million followers. Sonya Meyerson-Knox, communications director for the Jewish Voice for Peace, a group of Jewish activists who oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestine, described this crowd as “white nationalists with a racist agenda trying to curry favor by peddling vile forms of antisemitic trash.”
Peters and his ilk don’t have to rely on their usual sources of propaganda news or photoshop to prove that the Israeli government is inflicting terrible suffering in Gaza—while doctored photos have been circulating, so has genuine footage—because it is actually happening. But experts on hate speech agree that extremists’ claims of solidarity with the people of Palestine are not sincere. “[Peters is] using the tragedy of this current situation to try to bolster his audience,” says IREHR’s Burghart.
Indeed, when he’s not promoting antisemitic content, Peters is making derogatory comments about Palestinians. “Israel wants to flood America with Palestinians and 3rd Worlders, but they won’t allow them to work there,” he posted on October 14. “Is Benjamin Netanyahu ever going to address how low-IQ goat f*ckers were able to penetrate the most sophisticated defensive weaponry in the world?” he posted on October 9.
That dehumanizing rhetoric, says JVP’s Meyerson-Knox, shows Peters’ true colors. “We know that it’s actually not about any real care or concern for Palestinians or Jews or Israelis,” she says, “and that this is entirely just political calculations by one far-right activist against another.”