by Eli Clifton
President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, is best known for his one-size-fits-all policy prescriptions for geopolitical challenges facing the U.S. in hotspots such as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea: preventive war.
But Bolton has also played a quieter role in promoting anti-Muslim misinformation as the chairman of the Gatestone Institute since 2013. That work, it appears, led the Bolton-led group to collaborate with a far-right Canadian publication, The Rebel, a publication with a history of bigotry and anti-Semitism that once published a “satirical video” titled “Ten Things I Hates About Jews.”
The Intercept’s Lee Fang debunked several of Gatestone’s anti-Muslim articles last week. Fang wrote:
Just this week, the Gatestone Institute published stories claiming that the “mostly Muslim male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East” in Germany are fueling a “migrant rape crisis” and that “Muslim mass-rape gangs” are transforming the United Kingdom into “an Islamist Colony.”
The website routinely portrays Muslim migrants and refugees as an existential threat to Europe and the United States, claiming that immigrants bring “highly infectious diseases,” genital mutilation practices, and terror to any nation that accepts them. The site spent years sharply criticizing the Obama administration for having a “traditional Muslim bias” against Christians.
Gatestone, where right-wing philanthropist Rebekah Mercer serves on the board and where the Mercer Family Foundation contributed $150,000 between 2014 and 2015, collaborated with The Rebel to produce 12 cross-branded videos featuring anti-Muslim advocates including Daniel Pipes and Geert Wilders in 2016. Topics included “the dangers of the Islamization of the West and the growing influence of Sharia law” and “Will Europeans succumb to Islamization, or will they rise to fight radical Islam and hold onto Western values?”
Partnering with The Rebel is an odd choice for The Gatestone Institute, a New York-based organization. Its president Nina Rosenwald, alongside John Bolton, host closed-door salons in Manhattan for those willing to pay $10,000 to attend. Speakers have included: Steve Bannon, Newt Gingrich, Alan Dershowitz, and Antonin Scalia.
The Rebel, by contrast, is decidedly less high-brow.
In March 2017, Rebel contributor Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization, published a video defending Holocaust deniers and repeating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) took note of both McInness and his Rebel colleague Jack Posobiec in its report “From Alt Right to Alt Lite: Naming the Hate,” writing:
[Posobiec] has enthusiastically promoted a range of lies, including the Pizzagate hoax, and attempted to discredit anti-Trump activists by planting an inflammatory “Rape Melania” sign at a protest event. He frequently tweets anti-Muslim sentiments, and has harassed former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin with anti-Muslim slurs online and in person, tweeting, “I screamed ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ at Huma Abedin.” […] Posobiec was until recently the Washington correspondent for right-wing Rebel Media.
McInness left The Rebel in August 2017, but Rebel editor Ezra Levant told the CANADALAND website:
“Gavin’s a great friend and a great talent,” founder Ezra Levant told us in an email. “We tried to keep him, but he was lured away by a major competitor that we just couldn’t outbid.”
That same month, The Rebel’s co-founder Brian Lilley quit the publication after correspondent Faith Goldy’s coverage of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville criticized police for shutting down the rally and not taking an aggressive stance against counter-protests. Goldy was fired after appearing on a podcast associated with the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, in which she praised white supremacist Richard Spencer’s manifesto as “robust” and “well thought-out.”
Lilley announced his departure from The Rebel, saying:
What anyone from The Rebel was doing at a so-called “unite the right” rally that was really an anti-Semitic white power rally is beyond me. Especially not a rally dedicated to keeping up a statue of Robert E. Lee, a man that whatever else he stood for, also fought on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of America’s bloodiest conflict.
And in February, LobeLog reported on former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka’s hiring by The Rebel. Gorka left the administration after a series of publications reported on his ties to Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group the State Department characterizes as collaborating with the Nazis. Gorka also endorsed a racist and anti-Semitic Hungarian militia in a 2007 interview.
Media Matters reported:
In addition to hiring Gorka, the outlet recently hired former Daily Mail columnist turned far-right agitator Katie Hopkins. Most recently, Hopkins was apparently banned from South Africa for fomenting racial hatred while in the country reporting for The Rebel. But she is perhaps best known for her shameless anti-Muslim rhetoric. Hopkins once called for the use of “gunships to stop migrants,” actively supported a mission to disrupt humanitarian rescues of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, and floated the idea on Fox News of putting Muslims in internment camps in the wake of the Manchester terror attack.
Although Bolton’s ties to the anti-Muslim far-right were already known, his decision to partner Gatestone with The Rebel suggests a high degree of comfort with, if not an affinity for, purveyors of anti-Semitic and white supremacist punditry.