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Two Paths, Same Destination: Analysing White Nationalist X Accounts Amid the War in Gaza

Two Paths, Same Destination: Analysing White Nationalist X Accounts Amid the War in Gaza
20th May 2024 Diana Wallens
In Insights


On 7 October 2023, Islamist militant group Hamas launched a terror attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 and taking over 200 hostages. Israel has subsequently launched a ground invasion and numerous airstrikes into Gaza, which, after a brief pause in late November, has resumed amid sporadic ceasefire and hostage release talks. Amidst this ongoing wave of unprecedented violence, several white nationalist social media accounts, particularly on X, have taken advantage of the crisis to radicalise users and spread antisemitic and Islamophobic propaganda. They have also subtly inserted their own foreign policy preferences into the mix that they have occasionally tied to the larger ongoing conflict.  

Many of these white nationalist accounts take one of two main approaches: the antisemitic path and the Islamophobic path. However, these descriptors are by no means exhaustive of these accounts’ primary radicalisation strategies. Many users who have taken the former path have also disseminated ugly tropes and stereotypes connected to the latter (and vice versa). The antisemitic and Islamophobic paths, as detailed in this Insight, are only meant to represent some of the most common patterns that can be found among groups of users on X at this significant juncture in the ongoing conflict.

Narratives common to the antisemitic approach include the New World Order (NWO) and the Great Replacement Theory. Narratives common to the Islamophobic approach include the “Islamisation” of Western countries and equating all Muslims with terrorism (see Figure 1).  Accounts pursuing both paths have also endeavoured to connect the conflict to foreign governments, such as Russia, China, and Ukraine, regardless of their respective affiliation with Israeli officials and/or Hamas militants. The incidents in Gaza have provided an additional path to radicalise users reacting to these moments of upheaval. This Insight provides an analysis of how such trends have thrived on X.

Figure 1. A cartoon posted by a user on X illustrating the so-called “Islamisation of Europe.”

Twitter Takeover

In late 2022, Elon Musk, the Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Motors, bought Twitter, rebranded it into X, and revamped its checkmark system. Users with blue checkmarks must either pay a monthly fee to access the coveted checkmark or are legacy verified accounts, meaning they had blue checkmarks before Musk’s Twitter acquisition. Now that anyone can pay to be verified on X, the authenticity and integrity of users’ identities may be compromised.  

As owner of X, Musk has frequently retweeted and replied in the affirmative to posts that espouse far-right rhetoric. For example, he posted that “the United States is being overwhelmed” in response to a post that asserted “illegal immigration crisis is shattering centuries-old records.”  This exchange is an allusion to the Great Replacement’s manufactured crisis of nonwhite immigrants flooding Western nations (in this case, the US).  In addition, he wrote, “you have said the actual truth” under a tweet that stated, “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”  Once again, Musk references the Great Replacement Theory’s false premise that Jewish people are plotting to eliminate white populations in the West.  This tacit endorsement of extremist beliefs has made X a haven for white nationalists and resulted in a documented increase in hate speech on the network.  This leniency has caused several far-right influencers and new accounts to propagate in the aftermath of 7 October 2023 to promote Islamophobia and antisemitism. 

Who Runs the World?

The New World Order (NWO) is a far-right conspiracy theory that alleges a global elite, consisting of heads of non-governmental organisations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and/or unknown figures (typically coded as Jewish and called “globalists”), are working to implement a totalitarian one-world government via their manipulation of the media, political institutions, and civil society.  Central to their theories is the so-called creation of national and international emergencies, which have ranged from the COVID-19 pandemic to the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States, to consolidate power.  Over the decade, the NWO has been linked to numerous terrorist incidents. Since 7 October,  White nationalist online influencers have cited the United States and other Western countries’ support for Israel as so-called “proof” that Jewish people have outsized influence in their governments.

The Great Replacement conspiracy theory falsely claims that Jewish people are scheming to eradicate the white population by facilitating the mass migration of racial/ethnic minorities to majority-white Western countries.  This theory has also been linked to several far-right terror attacks over the past decade, including the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue attack in Pennsylvania. Far-right extremists argue that Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza is part of a greater mission to force nonwhite populations to leave their home countries and settle in majority-white Western countries to replace these majorities.

Taking “Our” Country Back

The Islamisation of the West is an Islamophobic canard that states growing numbers of Muslim minorities pose an existential threat to white populations in Western nations.  These minorities supposedly live in enclaves segregated from non-Muslims and governed by Sharia Law.  “Lone wolf” terrorists have been responsible for recent acts of violence against Muslims due to this perceived incompatibility with Western values.  A man in Norway killed eight people in car bomb explosion and 69 in a mass shooting in 2011, citing the “Islamisation of Europe” as a motive.  Currently, white nationalists have baselessly asserted that the Palestinians fleeing violence in the Gaza Strip will bring “Sharia law” to Western nations.

Since the 1990s (particularly during the post-9/11 era), the characterisation of Muslims (and individuals perceived to be Muslim, such as Sikhs and South Asians) as individuals with a natural inclination to commit acts of terrorism against non-Muslims has been attributed to multiple incidents of Islamophobic violence from far-right extremists. Far-right extremists have generalised all Muslims and individuals who are sympathetic to Gazans suffering from violence of being pro-Hamas.

Two Paths, Same Destination

The following sample accounts have adhered to one (or more) of the above tropes as a central radicalisation tactic: Jackson Hinkle (@jacksonkinlle) and Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24).  Before 7 October, Hinkle gained notoriety for posting pro-Russian propaganda on his Twitch channel with several streams entitled “PUTIN’S 71% APPROVAL.”  One spread the conspiracy theory that President Volodymyr Zelensky had fled Ukraine at the outset of its war with Russia.  The messages Hinkle disseminates are the failure of the Western order due to their inability to live up to espoused ideals of freedom and equality.  These foreign policy views often connect with several other members of the Western far-right.  

Post-7 October tweets have frequently featured graphic videos of the violence in the Gaza strip juxtaposed with those promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories related to the NWO.  One, for instance, quoted Putin, who referred to World Economic Forum founder as “a globalist terrorist” and said the NWO has “failed and their days are numbered.” Another argued that satanic globalists govern the United States because the Colorado Supreme Court allowed Donald Trump to be removed from the presidential ballot for the 2024 election.  

Hinkle’s account has continued his trend of spreading anti-Western propaganda, on occasion linking it to the tumult in the Gaza Strip.  These posts position President Putin as an individual who wants to put an end to the brutality. For example, he has tweeted: “if you are pro-Palestine but condemn Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria – you have been fooled by the Zionists!” Others merely persist in heaping praise upon Putin for other announcements unrelated to the events in Gaza. In this way, Hinkle is attempting to persuade pro-Palestine users that their foreign policy interests do not align with those of Western countries and allied nations. Countries and groups that are in an adversarial relationship with the West are the true arbiters of human rights worldwide. Of course, actual past and present records of these entities need not apply.    

Multiple individuals manage Visegrád 24, which has been on X since January 2020.  Its key figures include Polish journalist Adam Starzyński and Stefan Tompson, a British public relations specialist working in Poland since 2014.  Both men are connected to the “Make Europe Great Again” movement, which has shared anti-refugee content and praised far-right administrations worldwide (e.g., Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s and Argentinian President Javier Milei’s).  After the war in Ukraine began, Visegrád 24 has (seemingly contradictorily) expressed support for the country’s democratic government as well.  

After 7 October, Visegrád 24’s priorities have shifted to introducing Islamophobia under the pretence of standing with Israel.  These posts posit that all Muslims are dangerous religious extremists prone to terroristic actions against those who do not share their beliefs.  One such tweet was a poll asking, “will ‘queers for Palestine’ condemn the sentencing to public execution of 13 Yemenis on homosexuality charges by a Houthi-run court in Yemen.”  Another features a video of a young man and a young woman in an unknown location (presumably the Gaza Strip) wearing green headbands and stating that their infant children are “Hamas.” Visegrád 24 captions this video with some quotes from its footage: “she is Hamas from birth.  Really?  How old is she?  One year and five months.  She supports Hamas? Of course! Her blood is green!” 

Amidst the Islamophobic rhetoric, Visegrád 24’s foreign policy views are ever-present: endorsement of the actions of certain far-right leaders combined with backing Ukraine in its war against Russia.  Ethno-nationalism (especially regarding the need to protect national borders from illegal jihadist immigrants) is strongly favoured, and countries should take steps to protect themselves against invaders.  This message for pro-Israel users is intended to draw them ever closer to believing that a country’s native people should defend themselves against real and imagined interlopers by any means necessary.    

Creating Roadblocks

In this current environment of widespread misinformation online, it is imperative to recognise common markers of white nationalist X accounts aiming to radicalise individuals who harbour sympathy towards either the Israelis or the Palestinians due to a myriad of often deeply personal reasons. The conflict then serves as a hook to lure these users into embracing their foreign policy perspectives, aligning with elements prevalent in Western far-right circles. The effects of this widespread radicalisation, however, are not a foregone conclusion: there are steps X, far-right and disinformation researchers, reporters, and government officials can take to ensure that others do not fall into the traps extremists have laid out.   

Although many content moderating staff on X have been cut since Musk’s acquisition of the platform, there are covert signs of hate speech connected to the conflict in the Gaza Strip that the remaining staff should keep watch for. Firstly, links to official organizational or individual websites may lead to homepages featuring social media accounts and donation portals. Secondly, the portrayal of the Israel-Gaza conflict as a simplistic narrative of heroes versus villains, without critical examination of perspectives supporting either side, is a red flag. Thirdly, these accounts may propagate Islamophobic and antisemitic conspiracy theories that may often be unrelated to the violence in Israel and Gaza. These trends are just one of the more recent far-right radicalisation traps on social media.  

Concluding Recommendations 

Far-right disinformation researchers and reporters, now focusing on extremism around the Israel-Gaza conflict, may consider creating a guide for citizens to recognise white nationalist recruitment tactics amid the violence. While I have provided a brief summary of some of these indications, it is not exhaustive, as mentioned in the introduction. Writers with different levels of experience on this matter may be able to share information that I have not.  

On a governmental level, the European Union opened up an investigation in December 2023 that is looking into potential violations of the Digital Services Act that has partially been tied to the proliferation of hate speech, disinformation and terrorist content related to the Israel-Gaza conflict.  (At the time of writing, the U.S. and U.K. have not opened up similar investigations, perhaps partially due to their free speech laws.) If X is found guilty of violating this Act, it could be fined for as much as 6% of its global revenue. These fines could potentially spur top-down changes related to how X handles hate speech; transitioning from a laissez-faire strategy to something more proactive, such as hiring additional content moderators and tracking incipient trends in online hate and disinformation.  

Diana Wallens is currently a Junior Fellow with the Canadian Institute for Far-Right Studies (CIFRS).  Her research interests include the study of far-right extremist movements in Canada, the United States, and Europe, particularly QAnon conspiracists, Neo-Confederate, and Neo-Nazi groups. Currently, she is set to study online and offline pathways to far-right radicalization as a PhD Law, Justice, and Criminology candidate at American University.