A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

Get daily updates delivered right to your inbox

Ben Shapiro’s split with Candace Owens reflects how Israel and antisemitism are also dividing the right

(JTA) – For years, Candance Owens and Ben Shapiro traveled parallel paths.

Both are millennial right-wing culture warriors with social media followings in the millions. And both depart from broader communities that have historically voted Democratic  — Owens is Black, Shapiro Jewish. 

Occasionally, they would defend each other online. Meeting Shapiro in 2018 at the Trump White House, Owens wrote on Twitter, now X, “the future of America is bright.” In 2020, Owens joined Shapiro’s media company, the Daily Wire.

But like so many other ideological alliances, their bond has frayed and now broken since Oct. 7, as Shapiro has staunchly defended Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and Owens has condemned it, veering into what many call antisemitic stereotypes. On Friday, the Daily Wire’s CEO, Jeremy Boreing, announced on X that Owens and the right-wing news site had “ended their relationship.”

His post was shared by both Shapiro and Owens, who later added, “The rumors are true — I am finally free.”

Political commentators Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro are seen on set during a taping of “Candace” on March 17, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. ((Jason Kempin/Getty Images))


The move came following a busy few weeks in which Owens feuded with a series of conservative Jewish critics about whether her views were antisemitic. In the process, she has made and endorsed comments with roots in antisemitic stereotypes including the blood libel. Last week, her views were praised by avowed white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.

On Monday Owens posted on X that she was being unjustly maligned. 

“A group of nasty people tried to spearhead a PR campaign behind the scenes to smear me as antisemitic when it was announced that I parted ways with the Daily Wire,” she wrote. She later continued, “No one is buying the ridiculous storyline that I suddenly became an antisemite, no matter how powerful the network of smear merchants are working to try to make that a thing.” 

The breakdown over Owens, and the end of her alliance with Shapiro, demonstrates that the right-wing media landscape is not immune to the debates over Israel and Gaza that have plagued all manner of left-leaning institutions, from cultural centers to college campuses to the Democratic Party. As in those spaces, Oct. 7 and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war have led to a split among the conservative commentariat over whether Israel’s actions are justified, and over what counts as antisemitic. 

“It was very obvious this thing was not going to end well. If you know Candace she kind of likes these fights,” Dave Rubin, another Jewish right-wing commentator and provocateur who has been close with both Owens and Shapiro, said on his podcast last week. “She kind of likes those things, and Ben has a position that’s held very close to his heart.”

A representative for The Daily Wire did not return a request for comment, and Shapiro and Owens did not respond to attempts to reach them.

Owens, 34, first rose to prominence in 2017 and is known for her fierce criticisms of the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, as well as for Blexit, an initiative encouraging Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party. The movement inspired Jewish conservatives as well: Former “Real Housewife” Siggy Flicker is one of the figures behind a parallel effort, Jexit, to encourage Jews to abandon the Democrats.

Owens worked for a time at the right-wing youth conservative movement Turning Point USA, where she began to gain a following — famously including Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who later appeared in public with her wearing matching “White Lives Matter” sweatshirts shortly before he went on a string of antisemitic rants. She joined The Daily Wire as the host of an online talk show after a brief stint with the conservative media company PragerU, founded by Dennis Prager, another prominent Jewish conservative. (The Daily Wire also acquired PragerU around the same time.)

Owens has flirted with antisemitism, and associated with those accused of it, in the past. In 2018, she said Hitler “wanted to make Germany great and have things run well” and added, “He had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize.” 

And in 2022 she defended Ye after he tweeted he was going to “go death con 3 on Jewish people.” 

“If you are an honest person, you did not find this tweet antisemitic,” Owens wrote about Ye’s comment at the time. 

She stayed at the Daily Wire even after her defense of Ye, who went on to make a stream of antisemitic comments beginning in the fall of 2022. 

Shapiro, who recently accompanied Elon Musk to Auschwitz on an educational trip after the tech mogul and X owner was accused of antisemitism, has long sought to meld his ties to the Jewish community with his status as a thought leader on the right.

And his company has maintained connections with others accused of making antisemitic comments as well. The Daily Wire recently hired the actor and former martial artist Gina Carano after she lost her job on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” for a social media post comparing conservatives to Jews during the Holocaust.

But Owens’ opposition to Israel has created a gulf between her and Shapiro, who like many on the right has staunchly defended Israel’s military campaign. 

Owens has, by contrast, joined a growing number of far-right outliers — including ousted Fox News host Tucker Carlson, online misogynist influencer Andrew Tate and GOP Rep. Thomas Massie — who have criticized Israel’s conduct using much of the same language as the pro-Palestinian left.

Owens, for example, has called Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip a “genocide” — a term gaining an increasing foothold among progressive opponents of Israel. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the word for the first time in a House speech Friday after facing sustained pressure by left-wing activists — but Owens beat her to it by months. 

“No government anywhere has a right to commit a genocide, ever. There is no justification for a genocide,” Owens tweeted in November. Last week, appearing on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” she said she had been referring to Republican Rep. Brian Mast’s recent comments in the House in which he cast doubt on the idea that there were innocent Palestinians

“That is genocidal,” Owens said. “As soon as you say an entire group of people are all evil, you are now laying the groundwork to justify a genocide.” She also heavily criticized Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s efforts to ban Students for Justice in Palestine chapters from his state’s universities. 

Owens has grounded her critiques in the Bible and has drawn attention to Palestinian Christians in Gaza who have been killed since Oct. 7. 

“Respectfully, if you think it’s antisemitism to notice that innocent Christians were killed in an IDF bombing then you need to log off of the internet and have your brain examined,” she tweeted on Oct. 23, after Israeli artillery hit a church in Gaza City reportedly killing more than a dozen worshippers. 

The war began with Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, which killed approximately 1,200 and took some 250 hostages. The Israeli military has since killed more than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly put the number slightly lower in a recent talk to Republican senators. More than 250 Israeli soldiers have also been killed in the war. 

Israel strenuously denies that it is committing genocide and blames Hamas for embedding among civilians. Shapiro has publicly criticized Owens for her remarks about Israel, calling them “disgraceful” during an event in November. He has also publicly invited her to leave his company

“Candace, if you feel that taking money from The Daily Wire somehow comes between you and God, by all means quit,” Shapiro wrote on Nov. 15, after Owens posted an extended quotation from the New Testament beginning, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Her post concluded with another New Testament quotation, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

In recent weeks, Owens has veered from harsh criticism of Israel into what critics across the spectrum are calling outright antisemitism. 

“Imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens mused on her show March 8, referencing two infamous Black street gangs while discussing her online battles with author and right-wing commentator Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Owens continued, “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood, if there are a small group of people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from criticism? It’s food for thought, right?”

Boteach had accused Owens of being an antisemite, citing her relationship with Ye and her views on Israel. Following that charge, Owens appeared to endorse the age-old antisemitic blood libel by “liking” a user’s post that asked Boteach, “Are you drunk on Christian blood again?”

Other conservative institutions, including the think tank American Enterprise Institute, have also accused Owens of antisemitism, as has Rabbi Michael Barclay, a conservative pundit who is also spiritual leader of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, California; Barclay wound up debating Owens about the subject on her show last week

The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, also took Owens to task after video of Fuentes praising her began circulating online. Fuentes had approvingly said Owens was “in a full-fledged war against the Jews.” 

“White supremacist & Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes is praising Candace Owens’ vitriolic antisemitism,” the Jewish watchdog tweeted Thursday. “It’s hardly surprising, but it does set off alarm bells: When bigoted people come together to push an antisemitic agenda, it adds fuel to the fire of hate.” 

Owens in turn attacked the ADL, writing in response that she didn’t know Fuentes and adding, “Everyone can see what you guys are doing to me. Your pattern is well established and the world is waking up to it. My crime is having stood up for myself against your network of smears.”

The drama has continued in recent days. After Owens was dropped by the Daily Wire, Boteach took his own controversial swipe at her over the weekend by posting a photo of his Purim costume: an antisemitic caricature which he called “a Candace Owens Jew.” He wore a hook nose, a bloodstained T-shirt emblazoned with $100 bills, Israel-flag face tattoos and “Filth” drawn on his forehead in black marker,

A range of Jews and Daily Wire staffers condemned the costume on X.

“This kind of repulsive embarrassment is representative of nobody I know or wish to be associated with,” Chaskel Bennett, a board member of Agudath Israel of America, wrote about Boteach’s costume on X. “It’s damaging, offensive, and frankly speaking over the top insane.”

The post Ben Shapiro’s split with Candace Owens reflects how Israel and antisemitism are also dividing the right appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

More to Discover