The Jewish watchdog group StandWithUs called on Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to apologize for being the keynote speaker a week ago at the America First Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, an event organized by white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
“This is how the normalization of hate occurs and grows,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement last week. “The appearance of a sitting U.S. member of Congress at a white-supremacist conference legitimizes racism and anti-Semitism. It seems that some people are unable to learn the lessons of history.”
Fuentes, 22, has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, including pushing anti-Israel conspiracy theories.
Local Jewish organizations also had negative reactions to Gosar’s decision.
“Representative Gosar’s actions are abhorrent,” said Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, via email. “We are judged by the company we keep. His support of a white nationalists event is shameful, and does not represent the diverse people of Arizona.”
“Deeply disturbing that Rep Gosar spoke at white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ AFPAC,” tweeted Tammy Gillies, ADL of Arizona’s regional director. “A Member of Congress should never share a stage with Fuentes, who said the Capitol siege was ‘awesome,’ the 2020 election was ‘fraudulent’ & declared, ‘This country wouldn’t exist without white people.’”
Gillies’ tweet came fast on the heels of Gosar’s speech last week.
Fuentes has denied the Holocaust, accused Jews of killing Jesus, made racist statements about African-Americans, accused Jews of spreading COVID-19 and said, “You know what our problem is? The fertility rates. We need to be making more beautiful white Christian babies.”
“This is what Rep. Gosar normalizes when he speaks at an event organized by the likes of Nick Fuentes,” said Rothstein. “We urge the leadership of the Republican Party to distance itself from Rep. Gosar and to take the same action it took against former [Iowa] Congressman Steve King for his racist comments, which was to remove him from all his committee appointments.”
Rothstein said this is the first time StandWithUs has called out Gosar. But “his choice to affiliate with clear anti-Semites, particularly with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, was too much for us to ignore,” she said, via email. Rothstein said the request for an apology has not been answered by Gosar yet and suggested that if he receives pressure from many organizations along with “educational efforts,” there is reason to think he may apologize or change his policy in terms of whom he appears with in the future.
Gosar, who has previously made headlines for his far-right views, tried to distance himself from Fuentes after the Feb. 26 conference by saying the next day that he denounced “white racism” and attended AFPAC to appeal to young conservative voters, according to The Washington Post.
Six of Gosar’s siblings condemned his political views as “racist” and “anti-Semitic” during his 2018 campaign. JN