The Slatest

Why Did Synagogue Suspect Believe Migrant Caravan Is Jewish Conspiracy? Maybe He Watched Fox News.

Police tape is seen outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018.
Police tape is seen outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

As a profile of Robert Bowers begins to emerge, particular attention is being paid to how the man who is suspected of opening fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning and killing 11 people was fond of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He frequently threatened Jews on social network Gab. His anti-Semitic and nationalist views seemed to combine perfectly in his penchant to frequently post about the migrant caravan making its way from Central America to the United States. President Donald Trump and Republicans as a whole have turned the caravan into a rallying cry ahead of the midterms, but to an untrained eye the connection may seem a little perplexing. But Fox News has often talked about a connection between the caravan and George Soros, who is often described by anti-Semites as the head of a “globalist” effort that is “seeking to undermine a white, Christian social order,” as Talia Lavin wrote in the Washington Post recently.*

On Thursday, merely two days before Bowers reportedly opened fire at the Pittsburgh synagogue, Lou Dobbs had a guest on the show who directly made the connection between Soros and the caravan. “A lot of these folks have affiliates that are getting money from the Soros-occupied State Department,” Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of investigations and research, said.

As Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo pointed out on Twitter “‘ZOG’ is a staple of white supremacist/neo-Nazi websites/literature etc. Stands for ‘Zionist occupied government.’ … This guy knows exactly what lever he’s pulling when he uses this phrase,” Marshall wrote. A screengrab of an apparent Bowers repost on Gab appears to confirm he was well acquainted with the term.

Farrell was hardly the first to make the connection on Fox News. Earlier in the month, Fox & Friends also mentioned the connection, this time citing a tweet by Rep. Matt Gaetz that openly questioned whether Soros was funding the caravan. “Mr. Gaetz yesterday called for an investigation whether U.S. backed NGO’s, or George Soros were behind the caravan,” Fox News’ Steve Doocy said. Rep. Louie Gohmert also mentioned the possibility that Soros was funding the caravan earlier this week. “Well, I can’t help but think the Democrats—perhaps Soros—may be funding this thinking it’s going to help them,” Gohmert said.

Beyond what he could have heard on Fox News, though, Bowers also seemed to be fond of a theory that has become viral on far-right websites and forums. That theory involves a photo that appears to show migrants getting onto a truck that has an apparent Star of David visible on the side. To the surprise of no one, Infowars’ Alex Jones also got in on the conspiracy theory, saying the caravan was an example of how Soros and others are trying to open up “large migration routes from the third-world into the first-world as part of a neo-colonialism system.”

Correction, Oct. 28, 2018: This post originally misspelled Talia Lavin’s last name.