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Rosenberg, Emma. “Taking the ‘Race’ Out of Master Race: The Evolving Role of the Jew in White Supremacist Discourse.” Nationalities Papers, 2023


Across Europe and North America, political leaders and elites use ethnoreligious appeals based on white supremacist ideology with increasing success. Yet this rhetoric frequently includes positive references to Jews and Israel. What explains this pivot away from the historic reliance on the so-called “nefarious, menacing Jew”? Rather than interpret the transformation of the white supremacist Jewish trope as an ideological shift, this article demonstrates that the transformation reflects a mainstreaming of white supremacist discourse. More specifically, as white supremacist discourse increasingly finds a home in successful nativist political parties, framing Jews as a religion rather than a race sidesteps hurdles to attracting votes. Second, positive references to Israel rather than Jews demonstrates the evolution of an identitarian strand within white supremacy rather than a de-escalation of racist ideology. A comparison of the German AfD and the American Republican Party, two parties that increasingly employ white supremacist rhetoric alongside pro- Jewish rhetoric, illustrates the phenomenon. Within a larger political context, the de-racializing of Jews in white supremacist discourse reflects a shift in twenty-first century nativism from a preoccupation with race and nationality, to a focus on civilizational, cultural, and religious identities.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.