An alt-right leader has been accused of making comments bordering on anti-Semitic after comparing Zionism to white nationalism.

The leader of the white nationalist think tank, the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, made the comparison during an appearance at Texas A&M University, when he was asked a question by the university's rabbi Matt Rosenberg.

Rosenberg, who was in a crowd made up of white nationalists and those protesting Spencer's presence at the university, asked whether or not the white nationalist would be open to learning about Judaism.

The Rabbi asked Spencer: "My tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion and love. Will you sit town and learn Torah with me, and learn love?", reported.

But the alt-right leader instead took the opportunity to compare Zionism to white nationalism, and suggested Jewish people were unwilling to assimilate with different cultures.

Spencer told Rosenberg: "Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel?" Spencer said. "And by that I mean radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East could go move in to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?

"Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate," Spencer continued, in comments Rosenberg said he viewed as bordering on anti-Semitic. "That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future. It's because you had a sense of yourselves. I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves."

His comments – which have prompted fierce debate about Zionism and white nationalism on social media – were not answered by a seemingly speechless Rosenberg, who later told he was not a good debater.

"I really didn't want to get into it. That might have been the wrong decision, but I'll let the next rabbi deal with it," he said.

Jewish students on campus praised Rosenberg's decision to question the white supremacist, saying he had 'stood up' to the alt-right leader on behalf of Jewish people and other minorities.

Spencer's presence on campus also provoked mass protests by students who did not believe the white supremacist leader should be using the university to promote hate speech.

Crowds gathered outside the hall where Spencer gave his speech, while protesters inside either asked questions, like Rosenberg, or stood with their fists raised in the air in defiance of alt-right views.