AUSTIN, Texas — Infowars, an alternative multimedia outlet notorious for peddling hoaxes and anti-Semitic ideas, is now toeing a far-right, extremist line on U.S.-Israel relations.
The site’s shifting political viewpoint is another sign of the transformation that Alex Jones, the site’s founder, has undergone as he’s transitioned from an offbeat talk show host on public access TV to a Washington insider with intimate access to President-elect Donald Trump.
Despite his modest beginnings, Jones has built an expansive and profitable media empire that includes multiple websites, TV and radio programs, documentaries, and lucrative advertising deals that promote products ranging from Infowars-branded male “vitality” supplements to doomsday preparation supplies.
Jones amassed a following by vociferously opposing status quo politics and the mainstream media narrative, even when it meant propagating blatantly false hoaxes such as Sandy Hook “trutherism” or #Pizzagate. During the 2016 election cycle, Jones and Infowars were enthusiastic supporters of Trump’s candidacy, and the president-elect favored Jones with an exclusive interview last month, just weeks after his election.
In addition to peddling conspiracy theories, bucking the mainstream, and joining Team Trump, Infowars and its publisher frequently veer into blatant anti-Semitism. In an October episode of his radio show, Jones claimed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his brother, Ezekiel, who are Jewish, are part of a mythical “Jewish mafia.” Earlier that same month, when Trump referenced an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about global finance during a stump speech in Florida, media analysts cited Jones as one of the sources of his beliefs.
However, Infowars sometimes has been justifiably critical of Israel’s foreign policy and treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population. During Israel’s brutal 2014 assault on Gaza that ultimately killed over 2,200 people, many of them children, Infowars published an opinion piece calling U.S. support for Israel the “moral failure of the West.”
In the July 2014 op-ed, Paul Craig Roberts, who served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Ronald Reagan, wrote:
“One would think that the Great Moral West would be discussing sanctions on Israel and on Washington’s stooge government in Kiev, which is bombing civilian homes, apartment complexes, and infrastructure … But the Great Moral West only aids the perpetrators of death and destruction, not the victims.”
Also in July 2014, Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars’ editor-at-large, criticized the invasion of Gaza and its high death toll in a video satirically titled “Israel is Only Defending Itself.”
“Even if you think butchering kids is a legitimate form of self-defense, can we at least refrain from applauding, cheering, and celebrating the murder of children?” Watson asked.
However, Infowars’ tone on Israel has changed dramatically in recent months, coinciding with Jones’ support for Trump. After the United States refused to block a U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, Infowars republished a bizarre diatribe by blogger Michael Snyder which claimed that the United States is under a supernatural curse for opposing the Israeli government’s apartheid agenda. Snyder wrote:
“Because Barack Obama has cursed Israel at the United Nations, America is now under a curse. Friday’s stunning betrayal of Israel at the UN Security Council is making headlines all over the planet, but the truth is that what Obama has just done is far more serious than most people would dare to imagine.”
Contrary to Snyder’s claims that Obama betrayed Israel, the president actually helped Israel cement a record-breaking $38 billion dollar military aid package in the final months of his administration.
In a video Jones published on his YouTube channel on Jan. 3, he claims the United States’ failure to veto the resolution is part of a plot by billionaire investor George Soros to “bring down” the United States and Israel. Although Soros does have links to numerous foreign NGOs and has been accused of supporting regime change in Ukraine and elsewhere, he also frequently stars in right-wing conspiracy theories that tie him to everything from the Black Lives Matter movement to labor rights protests.
In the video, Jones claims that documents published by WikiLeaks “prove” that the Obama administration and George Soros are funding Muslim attacks on the West and its allies, and that the failure to support illegal Israeli settlements is a part of that plot. Yet he fails to provide examples, sources, or facts to support these statements.
While anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and support for Israeli war crimes may seem like a strange combination, they actually closely align Jones and Infowars with the incoming administration. Steve Bannon, the notoriously racist, sexist, anti-Semitic but pro-Israel founder of Breitbart News, is the president-elect’s chief strategist, and, last month, Trump selected David Friedman, his pro-settlement, anti-peace process bankruptcy lawyer, as the next ambassador to Israel.
Watch “Israel is Only Defending Itself” from Paul Joseph Watson: