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A Pennsylvania candidate for governor cuts ties with Gab, and antisemitism on the site spikes

Doug Mastriano’s statement against antisemitism was met by users with calls for violence against Jews

In response to Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano’s distancing of himself from Gab, after he was widely criticized for his embrace of the antisemitic social media platform, Gab users have stepped up their antisemitic postings — including death threats and calls for violence against Jews — a new report showed. 

Mastriano, a state representative and leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement aiming to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, is running against Pennsylvania’s Jewish attorney general, Josh Shapiro. Democrats and Jewish Republicans criticized Mastriano after it was reported that he paid Gab and its founder, Andrew Torba, a $5,000 consulting fee in April and maintained an active account on the site. 

Gab, a far-right social media platform launched in 2016 has long been an online echo chamber for white nationalism and antisemitic tropes. Robert Bowers, the man who killed 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, had been a verified user of the site, where he posted neo-Nazi propaganda and calls for violence against Jews. 

Under pressure, Mastriano last week disassociated himself from Torba, who frequently shared his antisemitic beliefs and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories in posts promoting the Republican candidate’s campaign. The candidate condemned “antisemitism in all forms” and closed his account. 

Gab users responded with anger to Mastriano’s move, according to Media Matters, a nonprofit group that monitors social platforms. 

“Where is Adolph when he is needed,” wrote one user, referring to Nazi leader Adolph Hitler. “Dear Lord, Smite Josh Shapiro, that weasel lying Jew,’ another user wrote. Other comments included, “I would like to see their masonic temple in DC burnt to the ground”, “exterminate all Jews” and “they are a disease. Like cancer, need to be cut out and removed.” 

In a video on Saturday, Torba attacked the “Godless media” and doubled down on Christian nationalist views he had previously expressed. “The only groups of people that are chosen are those that believe in Jesus Christ,” he said, adding that the values cited in the Talmud “disgusts” him. He attacked Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the anti-Defamation League and called the group a “Jewish Nationalist organization” that “endorses, promotes, and defends Zionism, or Jewish Nationalism.” 

Earlier this year Torba, celebrated the destruction of the Temple. “Almost 2000 years later, that Temple is still not standing, he said in remarks at the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), founded by Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, as an alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). 

Though Mastriano issued a statement saying Torba doesn’t speak for him or his campaign, he stopped short of denouncing Torba or asking for a reimbursement. 

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