Jews Should Concern Americans More Than Russian Influence, Nigel Farage Says
Trump ally and Brexit leader Nigel Farage says there's something Americans should worry about more than Russian meddling: Jews.
Farage in a Monday interview singled out the so-called "Jewish lobby" as an overwhelming power in America during a discussion about Russia's interference in U.S. politics.
"There are other very powerful lobbies in the United States of America, and the Jewish lobby, with its links with the Israeli government, is one of those strong voices," Farage said on his London-based radio show.
He turned the conversation to Jewish lobbies after a caller had suggested the pro-Israel lobby was as dangerous to the U.S. as the Kremlin.
"That's a reasonable point," Farage told the caller.
"There are about 6 million Jewish people living in America, so as a percentage it's quite small, but in terms of influence it's quite big."
Farage's remarks perpetuate popular and false narratives about a singular "Jewish lobby" operating within the United States and American Jews uniformly lobbying on behalf of Israel.
Jewish civil rights groups immediately condemned his comments.
"Nigel Farage's comments about the role of a powerful 'Jewish lobby' in America plays into deep-seated anti-Semitic tropes about supposed Jewish control of government," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt told Newsweek. "This is fuel for white supremacists who exploit and spread conspiracy theories about 'evil, controlling Jews.'"
Conflating a Jewish and Israeli lobby is not only conspiratorial and false, said Greenblatt, but could "have the unintended consequence of encouraging anti-Semites and extremists to exploit them."
The largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States is Christians United for Israel, which has a large Evangelical base and more than 1 million members overall. Opinion polls show the majority of Americans hold favorable views of Israel.
Farage befriended Donald Trump; the two ran similar populist campaigns in their respective countries last year. Farage was instrumental in promoting the successful Brexit vote, which largely relied on a blue-collar, working class base similar to Trump's American supporters. Both campaigns catered heavily to anti-immigrant and xenophobic resentments.
Farage also has close ties with former Trump campaign manager and strategist Steve Bannon, who now runs Breitbart News.
Trump has also been accused of courting anti-Semitic support, starting when his campaign did little to wave off endorsements from neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups. This year, Trump has raised skepticism about an increase in hate crimes against Jews since his election, and he initially refused to condemn the neo-Nazis who marched at a violent Charlottesville, Virginia, hate rally. Memes from anti-Semitic accounts have also repeatedly ended up in his Twitter feed.
Trump has repeatedly denied all accusations of anti-Semitism.