A pro-Israel group’s attempt to take on the far-right in an online debate has backfired, after abusive and antisemitic comments forced them to take down the video.
The Israel Advocacy Movement pulled its live stream featuring ‘Alt-right’ activist Mark Collett, in which guests discussed whether Zionists should “support a white ethno-state”.
Speaking to Jewish News, Joseph Cohen, who runs IAM, said “the volume and ferocity of anti-Jewish racism expressed in the debate and by the audience was unlike anything we’ve experienced in over a decade, the views were so extreme they violated YouTube content guidelines.”
On Twitter, users criticised IAM for inviting Collett, who has previously been pictured alongside far-right activists covered in swastikas, accusing them of giving him a platform to share racist views.
One account said: “Given Pittsburgh and Poway, this was wrong. By all means debate a [Katie] Hopkins figure but not an actual Nazi. These people would kill us given half the chance”, while another said they’d hit a “new low..as they platform a literal neo-Nazi”.
Also appearing on the stream was Raphi Bloom of North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI), and the individual behind the Twitter account ‘Judas Maccabaeus’, which advocates for Jewish and Israeli causes, as well as UK-born Israel activist, ‘Brian of London’.
About an hour into the live hangout, Bloom of NWFOI decided to leave the conversation, branding Collett a racist.
Cohen told Jewish News he invited the right-wing speaker on because he wanted “to publicly challenge and expose the hate, lies and antisemitism”.
He said he hosts controversial figures so the audience could “hear the truth from us and the explicit hate from the other side.”
Reflecting on the video, he added: “it was clear for all to see just how dangerous the far right would be for Jews, and indeed any minority, should they ever assume power.”
After taking down the video, he said that “We do understand that some might disagree with giving – or indeed sharing – a platform with racists”, but insisted it “was not done in partnership with them”, but simply to expose them.
“As no other group is embarking on such a strategy, there will be a learning curve”.
During the debate, viewed more than 5,000 times before being taken down, Collet accused Jews of being “disproportionately involved in various media, including Hollywood, the press and the porn industry”, as well as being “over represented in banking and campaign finance and vastly over-represented when it comes to pushing for mass immigration, multiculturalism, feminism and other anti-family practices.”
He claimed his critics accuse of him being an antisemite, and “when it comes down to the final building block in your defensive wall, it’s always the Holocaust.
“If history has taught us one thing, it’s that you people have been thrown out of 109 different nations and states” because Jews “do things to other nations and states that gets you in this position”.