November 18, 2018

The Politics of Evil

A green two-way street sign pointing to Liberal and Conservative, representing the two dominant political parties and ideologies in national and global politics

We have entered a new era: the politicization of evil. Evil has been weaponized to score political points. Evil is only recognized if the “other side” can be blamed for it. 

Before we even knew what fully happened in Pittsburgh — while the bodies of 11 worshippers were still on the synagogue floor — leftists were blaming the massacre on President Trump. Even more hideously, many were blaming Jews who had voted for Trump. Writer Julia Ioffe took it a step further: moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was the cause. 

But winner of the most despicable quote of all goes to Franklin Foer in The Atlantic: “Any strategy for enhancing the security of American Jewry should involve shunning Trump’s Jewish enablers. Their money should be refused, their presence in synagogues not welcome. They have placed their community in danger.” 

Ioffe’s and Foer’s remarks prompted this response from Rabbi David Wolpe in Tablet: “How do people think this message will fall on the ears of those who fled from Iran, to be told that they are in fact guilty in the death of Pittsburgh’s Jews? Or — even more shamefully — on the ears of Judah Samet. Mr. Samet, a Holocaust survivor, escaped death by 4 minutes because he was a little late to shul. He is also a strong supporter of Trump. Frank, Julia: Would you stand before this 80-year-old man, not in a tweet or online piece, but face to face, and tell him he is responsible for the death of his friends, the people with whom he prays each Shabbat? Would you bar him from the shul where he almost died, again, at the hands of Jew haters? Really? And that would make us the righteous ones?”

The irony of leftist Jews, many of whom rarely step foot in a synagogue, blaming Trump, whose grandchildren are in Jewish day schools, cannot be overstated. More to the point, when there are terrorist attacks in Israel or Europe, you never hear from leftists — except to blame Israel. When a Pakistani Muslim recently beat an elderly Jewish man in Brooklyn, I didn’t hear a word from leftists. The next day, a young Black man in Crown Heights chased a Jewish man with a stick. Leftists were silent.

“No one is born with hate in his or her heart. You are taught to hate — but you choose to be evil. You also choose to engage in the politics of evil.”

There were 7,000 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during the Obama era. Did you ever hear from leftists? But because the murderer this time was a white supremacist — because they think they can twist this against President Trump — leftists all of a sudden care about dead Jews. 

There is no question that some on the right have tried to downplay the alt-right. As we see, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are. It only takes one lunatic with a gun to slaughter 11 people. And if you are able to downplay this slaughter, if you are able to push out of your mind the fact that he fired an AR-15 at a 97-year-old woman, then you too are engaging in the politics of evil. 

No one is born evil. No one is born with hate in his or her heart. You are taught to hate — but you choose to be evil. You also choose to engage in the politics of evil. 

Right now, Jews have four sets of enemies: the alt-right, the alt-left, Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and Islamists. With his incessant hate speech against Jews, Farrakhan is actively inciting evil, and Democrats who have been unable to criticize him are engaging in the politics of evil.

Jeremy Corbyn and his followers in the British Labour Party actively engage in the politics of evil. Professors who teach their students to hate Jews and Israel engage in the politics of evil. Reporters and editors who misrepresent what is happening in Israel engage in the politics of evil.

We all need to stop and look at this horror without the buffer of politics. We all need to feel the pain of the nine families whose lives have been tragically upended by hate.

All of Israel is responsible for one another, the Talmud says. But just as important, an attack on Jews has always meant an attack on the Western values of truth, justice and freedom.

That’s what our four enemies have in common: they all hate Western values. Now is the time to unite over those values, not defame them.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

Now Israel has its own version of the ‘alt-right’

The cover photo for the Tight Memes Facebook page on Sept. 11. Photo from Facebook

For many Jews, Nazis are public enemy No. 1, and using Nazi imagery to make a political point is strictly verboten.

But some young, right-wing Israelis aren’t buying it.

Inspired by the so-called alt-right abroad, their online community makes liberal use of anti-Semitic and Nazi imagery to mock and malign what it sees as the real threat: Israeli and Jewish leftists.

“We’re fighting back in a new way,” said Guy Levy, 40, the manager of an advertising office in Beersheba and a member of the community. “Our messages aren’t politically correct, but that’s what makes them funny, and stinging.”

Many Israelis heard about this community for the first time Saturday when Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, credited its main Facebook page as the source of an anti-Semitic themed cartoon he shared. The page, called Tight Memes Against Kakihomoshit Leftists, has since been heavily referenced in the local media. The publicity significantly expanded it following.

Netanyahu posted the cartoon Friday with the caption “food chain.” It pairs the Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros — who the alt-right regularly portrays as a leftist “puppet master” — with at least two other figures associated with the far right and conspiracy theorists, a robed “Illuminati” figure and a lizard creature. All three in turn are seen as manipulating former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other prominent critics of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jewish leaders in Israel and the United States rushed to rap Netanyahu over the post. “The cartoon that Yair Netanyahu posted contains blatantly anti-Semitic elements,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Israel office tweeted Sunday in Hebrew. “The dangers inherent in anti-Semitic discourse should not be taken lightly.”

Meanwhile, leading white supremacists, including former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke and those behind the U.S. neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, purported to embrace Netanyahu as one of their own.

“Welcome to the club, Yair – absolutely amazing, wow, just wow,” Duke tweeted Sunday, along with media reports about Netanyahu’s post.

The cartoon Yair Netanyahu uploaded to Facebook, Sept. 9, 2017. (Facebook)

However, members of the community centered around the Tight Memes Facebook page responded very differently.

Dan Gefen, 36, a libertarian economist and longtime member of the community, said the cartoon is meant as a criticism of anti-Zionist meddling in Israeli democracy, including by Jews like Soros, who has funded left-leaning Jewish groups like J Street and civil rights groups in Israel. The anti-Semitic themes are simply a sendup of political correctness, he said.

“If you’re in the culture, you don’t see it as anti-Semitic,” he said. “The general idea is every small thing a right-winger does, they’re calling you a Nazi or a fascist. So it’s making fun of that. It’s a lie that tells the truth.

“The [left-wing] reaction is very important,” he added. “Without the reaction, the joke doesn’t work.”

In recent days, the Tight Memes Facebook page has filled with posts mocking the media’s reaction to the cartoon as humorless and hypocritical. Many have highlighted past examples of Israelis comparing using Nazi imagery to condemn trends on the right, sometimes to the delight of Duke and other white supremacists.

Asked for comment in a Facebook message, an administrator of the group replied, “We don’t cooperate with journalists. Especially not the fake news.”

Yair Netanyahu, who took down the cartoon Sunday evening but did not apologize, has shared several of the posts along with his own comments, including on one, “The left is so sensitive that it’s something.”

Gefen said the Tight Memes community borrows “culturally and even ideologically sometimes” from the alt-right. Like that group, it is loosely organized online, nationalistic and delights in defying social norms it feels are imposed by left-wing elites. But unlike some in the alt-right, he said, his community is not anti-Semitic, for obvious reasons, or racist.

While it operates on a variety of Facebook pages that come and go, Gefen said, the Tight Memes page is the community’s central meeting place. The page’s cover photo features both Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that the ADL deemed a hate symbol after it was co-opted by the alt-right, and Benjamin Netanyahu wearing sunglasses. The profile picture is a rendering of Netanyahu drinking from a jug labeled “the tears of leftists.”

Some 3,000 people followed Tight Memes prior to Netanyahu’s post, and that number has now reached well over 4,000.

Most of the posts are relatively standard right-wing political attacks on Netanyahu’s critics delivered with troll-like memes, many adapted from content popularized on 4chan, an alt-right gathering place. Pepe makes frequent appearances, sometimes in Nazi uniform. Other times he appears as a Likud member or religious Zionist.

Alt-right pejoratives like “cuck” are mixed with Hebrew neologisms, like “kakihomoshit,” the nonsensical curse word used in the full title of the Tight Memes page. “Kaki” is Hebrew slang for feces, while “homoshit” is a combination of two well-known English slurs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with his son Yair in Jerusalem, March 18, 2015. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Levy, the advertising office manager, who also runs a blog fact-checking the Israeli media, discovered Tight Memes about a month ago. He and said he was tired of seeing leftists bully Israel’s right wing, including the Netanyahu family.

“‘We’re fascists, we’re racists, we hate peace.’ These are the ways they’re trying to brand us. So we embrace it,” he said. “It’s even worse I’m sure for Yair. His family is being persecuted. I don’t know if he’s reacting in the best way, but this is the reaction.”

The Netanyahus face a raft of investigations. The prime minister has been questioned in a pair of fraud investigations relating to alleged illicit ties to executives in media, international business and Hollywood. His associates are being probed relating to a possible conflict of interest involving the $2 billion purchase of German submarines.

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelbilt announced Friday that he intends to indict the prime minister’s wife, Sara, for fraud over her alleged use of public funds for household expenses.

Yair Netanyahu posted the cartoon — which included likenesses of a former housekeeper at the heart of the case against his mother and another man leading weekly protests demanding indictments of his family — hours after Mandelbilt’s announcement. It was not the first time Yair has lashed out at leftists on Facebook in recent weeks.

Last month, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial response to the deadly violence at a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia, Yair Netanyahu suggested that American left-wing groups are more dangerous than neo-Nazis. Days earlier he questioned a left-wing NGO’s sources of funding and the supposedly illicit behavior of the sons of former prime ministers.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly takes social media advice from Yair, has hardly been less restrained, calling the investigations of his family a “witch hunt” by “leftists” and the “fake news.” He has sought to characterize the probes, apparently with some success, as an attack on all right-wing Israelis.

“They don’t want to just take me down,” he said in Tel Aviv last month in one of a pair of rallies he has recently held. “They want to take us all down.”

Netanyahu has yet to comment on the latest controversy surrounding his son. When reporters asked Netanyahu directly about the issue at the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, he replied, “Thank you, but this isn’t a press conference.”

That, too, became a meme on Tight Memes. In a video clip, a pair of animated sunglasses and a cigar appearon Netanyahu’s face. The text reads, “I didn’t choose the thug life. It chose me.”

Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin: You good with this?

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. Standing alongside him from L to R, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The question of the day, at least in my corner of the world, is this: How can Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin keep silent?

Cohn is chief economic advisor to President Donald Trump and the director the National Economic Council.   Mnuchin is Secretary of the Treasury.  Both men are Jewish.  And both men stood just to the right of Donald Trump as he equated neo-Nazis and white supremacists with the people who protested them, and declared that at a rally attended and promoted by hate groups from around the country, there were “very fine people”

It was, as the historian Steven Windmueller wrote,  “the first time in American history where a President has not uniformly and consistently condemned anti-Semitism.”

The statement was offensive enough that at least seven CEOs serving the administration as advisors resigned from their posts.  But Mnuchin and Cohn, who both come from the world of business and finance, remained silent  As of today, neither one has spoken out.

It is impossible to believe that both men are unaware of the deeply anti-semitic nature of the rally.  Its attendees posted threats against the local Charlottesville synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, in the days leading up to the march.  On the day of the rally, congregants felt the threat acutely.  Here’s an account of that day from the temple’s president,  Alan Zimmerman:

For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either. Perhaps the presence of our armed guard deterred them. Perhaps their presence was just a coincidence, and I’m paranoid. I don’t know.

Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil” and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

A guy in a white polo shirt walked by the synagogue a few times, arousing suspicion. Was he casing the building, or trying to build up courage to commit a crime? We didn’t know. Later, I noticed that the man accused in the automobile terror attack wore the same polo shirt as the man who kept walking by our synagogue; apparently it’s the uniform of a white supremacist group. Even now, that gives me a chill.

When services ended, my heart broke as I advised congregants that it would be safer to leave the temple through the back entrance rather than through the front, and to please go in groups.

Anti-semitism was not a bug of the rally, it was a feature.  The marchers chanted, “Jew will not replace us!”  Their flyers featured Nazi imagery and Stars of David.  These were the men and women that the President put on the same moral plane as those who confronted them.

Some media reported that Cohn and Mnuchin looked uncomfortable as Trump spoke.  If so, it is far more subtle than the visible snort and head shake his comments drew from Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly.

So why the silence from Cohn and Mnuchin?  Here’s some guesses:

Could it be that neither man is that connected to his Jewish identity?  Unlikely. Cohn is an active member of his local Jewish Federation.  In 2009 he donated  money to Hillel International in order to build a Jewish student center at Kent State University.  It is called the Cohn Jewish Student Center.   The Mnuchin family  has a long history Jewish philanthropy as well.

Could it be that they know Trump is not an anti-Semite, so the idea that  he supports anti-Semitism is ridiculous? Maybe.  That’s what some of his other Jewish aides told the New York Times today.

“I know President Trump and his heart,” Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, wrote to the Times. “He is a good man and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. All morning I am receiving horrific comments about being anti-black, racist, etc. for supporting Trump. It’s just wrong!”

This is the go-to response of Trump’s Jewish supporters, family and staff.  It is probably true, but it’s also besides the point.  You don’t have to be an anti-Semite to give cover to anti-Semites, which is what the President did yesterday.  His motivations may have had nothing to do with his feelings about Jews, but the effect is the same.  Neo-Nazis, repackaged as the “alt-right,” now can feel vindicated.

In fact, by standing silently by as  Trump betrayed American Jews , Cohn and Mnuchin are only encouraging Trump’s behavior.  He can use their presence to assure himself that he’s done nothing wrong.

Could it be they think the whole mess is a Leftist, media-fueled over-reaction to a few poorly chosen and ultimately meaningless words?  Maybe.  But neither man is known to be hyper-partisan.  Records show they have given to Democratic as well as Republican candidates.  They can read the denunciations of Trump’s words from a broad spectrum of Jewish organizations and community and religious leaders, as well as from numerous Republicans and foreign leaders.

“It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,” Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement, according to Reuters. “No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.”

No one’s making this up, and Cohn and Mnuchin are too smart to think otherwise.

Could it be they put their duties and their loyalty to the President far above whatever concerns they have about his statements and actions?  Again, maybe, in which case they have to swallow their gut reactions, shrug to their friends and family– hey, what can I do?– and just plow ahead.

Everybody makes choices about what principles are worth fighting for, Cohn and Mnuchin have made theirs. Thanks to President Trump, the neo-Nazis feel they have the wind at their backs, and white supremacists have planned more rallies across the country.   Cohn and Mnuchin have to own the fact that their boss has just received Twitter raves from Richard Spencer, David Duke, Matthew Heimbach and their well-armed minions.   Cohn and Mnuchin will have to explain whether they spoke up in private, because their public silence reads like cowardly acquiescence.

And Cohn and Mnuchin will need to face one of the supreme ironies of our time: when their boss endangered Jewish lives, they stayed silent, and the Germans spoke up.


ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email
him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism
and @RobEshman.

How Charlottesville has defined the Trump presidency

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share

The events in Charlottesville this past weekend serves as a metaphor for a broader battle over what is America and who are Americans. The alliance of alt-Right groups present in Virginia last Saturday seeks to return this nation to a European-oriented culture of white superiority, where class and race matter.  “Jews” served as the lightning rod for what would unfold on Saturday. The language, threats, and intensions of these Gestapo-type units who came to “demonstrate” were on display.  Their dress, their weapons, and their demeanor would convey their message of hate.

This represents the first time in American history where a President has not uniformly and consistently condemned anti-Semitism. Rather than trying to heal the nation or to create a constructive dialogue around regionalism, racism, and responsibility, our President through his inconsistent rhetoric and his willingness to excuse the actions of his alt Right allies has served to further splitter America, giving license to anti-Semitism. Moral equivalency has no place amidst this debate over hate.

Charlottesville saga also symbolizes the larger cultural divide that defines the nation, and more immediately the American South. Indeed, the future of Confederate monuments, scattered across Dixie is sparking an intensive debate on the place of the Civil War in American history, while at the same time reopening the realities of slavery and the vestiges of racism.

Emboldened by the events in Charlottesville and the tacit support of the White House, “Unite the Right” has announced nine rallies for this coming weekend across the nation and additional ones in the weeks ahead.  Now free from any constraints, at least from the White House, are we likely to see further assaults on minorities, including specific attacks on Jewish Americans?

Will the leadership of the Republican Party across this country follow the lead of Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and John McCain and push back against their President, repudiate his messaging while continuing to speak out in defense of the character and spirit of the American creed that has been acknowledged and celebrated for nearly 250 years?

The 20th Century Nazis now have their 21st Century American comrades.  Some have said “it can’t happen in America,” but this President may have set the seeds of hate that could allow such a war against the Jews to unfold.  Did Donald Trump just signal his consent that a war against the Jews and their allies fits within his definition of what it may to take to make America great again?

Steven Windmueller Ph. D. on behalf of the Wind Group, Consulting for the Jewish Future.  Dr. Windmueller’s collection of articles can be found on his website: www.thewindreport.com.

Netanyahu’s son says neo-Nazis ‘dying out’ in US, leftist ‘thugs’ becoming dominant

Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Oct. 13, 2016. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem

The 26-year-old son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that far-left thugs in America may be as dangerous as neo-Nazis, spurring an Israeli left-wing lawmaker to imply that he was a fascist.

Yair Netanyahu was commenting on Facebook on events Saturday in which a white supremacist rammed his car into counterprotesters at a far-right rally, killing one and injuring some 20 others. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that both sides shared the blame for violence that occurred at the event in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I’m a Jew, I’m an Israeli, the neo nazis scums in Virginia hate me and my country,” Yair Netanyahu wrote Wednesday in English, apparently after Trump’s reference at a news conference in New York to shared blame. “But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out. However the thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”

BLM is the acronym for the Black Lives Matter movement. Antifa is a group that opposes neo-Nazism and has some members from far-left circles.

Mickey Rosenthal of the Zionist Union took aim at Yair Netanyahu on Twitter the same day, calling him “Netanyahu Jugend” – a reference to the Nazi youth movement that promoted the adoration of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, the nrg news site reported. Rosenthal later deleted and apologized for the tweet after initially doubling down on his linking of the younger Netanyahu to the movement, whose name means “Hitler Youth.”

“Literally, what I wrote means ‘Netanyahu’s child,’” Rosenthal wrote to critics who felt offended by the phrase. “Unfortunately, the son is continuing to sow hatred like his father. I assume Ntanyahu and his supporters will try to twist what I said to their needs.”

But minutes later Rosenthal retracted and deleted his initial post.

“I reconsidered,” he said. “The criticism is founded. I accept it and apologize to anyone offended.”

Jewish leaders condemn Charlottesville violence and Trump’s reaction

A white supremacist trying to strike a counterprotestor with a white nationalist flag during clashes at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Jewish groups and Jewish leaders condemned the violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, and criticized President Donald Trump for saying that the hatred and violence came from “many sides.”

“The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in statement issued on Saturday evening, adding that “once again, hate has killed.

Three people were killed as a result of the weekend neo-Nazi event. One woman was killed and 19 injured, some seriously, after a car driven by an Ohio man slammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. The driver, identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was taken into police custody and the incident is under investigation.

Two Virginia state troopers were killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protestors and counterprotesters.

“We commend the opening of President Trump’s statement condemning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” but are deeply troubled by the moral equivalence evident in President Trump’s statement today. White supremacists wielding Nazi flags and spewing racist vitriol need to be specifically condemned, not only violence and hate ‘on many sides.’ If our leaders can’t call out this virulent strand of hate we will surely fail to stop it,” Jacobs also said in his statement.

Trump held a news conference from his summer vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey after posting tweets criticizing the violence in Charlottesville, including one which read: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

“What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society,” he also tweeted.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned the “inconceivable violence” on display in Charlottesville.

““It is utterly distressing and repugnant that such hatred and bigotry still run rampant in parts of this country. There is no place in our democratic society for such violence and intolerance. We must be vigilant and united in our opposition to such abhorrence,” he said in a statement.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the violence in Charlottesville in a tweet posted Saturday afternoon. “Mayhem in #charlottesville. We pray for victims of #violence & condemn those who marched thru streets chanting #hate,” he tweeted.

He also praised Trump for condemning the violence but criticized him for not specifically condemning the white supremacist movement. “Glad @POTUS blasted violence but long overdue for moral ldrshp that condemns the agents of #hate: #WhiteSupremacists, #NeoNazis, #AltRight,” he tweeted.

 

In a statement later issued by ADL, Greenberg said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”

“We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people,” he also said.

The American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Appalled by white supremacists & neo-Nazis in #Charlottesville preaching #racism, spewing #antiSemitism & #homophobia & glorifying violence.”

The organization also called on Trump to find “moral clarity.”

“@POTUS Time for moral clarity. Condemning ‘hatred, bigotry & violence on many sides’ blurs truth & gives pass to neo-Nazi perpetrators,” AJC tweeted.

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett, who is head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, condemned the rally and called on U.S. leaders to denounce the anti-Semitism connected to it.

“The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the U.S. is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities, it also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the U.S. and entire world from the Nazis,” he said in a statement, adding: “The leaders of the U.S. must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who was a former candidate for president, in a tweet slammed Trump for his handling of Charlottesville. “No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who ran for and lost his bid for a Senate seat in Louisiana, and was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s presidential run, tweeted in response to Trump’s call for all Americans to unite against hate.

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” Duke tweeted.

Stephen Bannon reportedly calls Jared Kushner a ‘cuck’ and a ‘globalist’

Stephen Bannon, left, with Jared Kushner, in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 22. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty Images

A report on emerging tensions between Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Stephen Bannon, his top strategist, said Bannon called Kushner a “cuck” and “globalist,” terms familiar to “alt-right” conspiracy theorists.

A Daily Beast report on Thursday detailed Bannon’s alleged use of the pejoratives. “Cuck,” a play on “cuckold,” is the alt-right term for conservatives who allowed themselves to be played by liberals and the establishment.

“Globalist” refers to theories of a conspiracy of elites to maintain control of the global economy. Its use has overlapped with anti-Semitic theories of Jewish financial control, but it is not a term used exclusively by anti-Semites. Kushner is Jewish.

Before joining the Trump campaign last summer, Bannon helmed Breitbart News, a site that he said was a platform for the alt-right, a loose assemblage of anti-establishment conservatives that includes anti-Semites, as well as some Jews and some fierce defenders of Israel.

News of the tensions between Bannon and Kushner, who reportedly were close during the campaign, follow Trump’s order this week removing Bannon from the National Security Council.

Kushner, according to the reports, believes Bannon went too far in pushing for travelers’ bans and in playing hardball with Congress in an attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. Both initiatives failed.

Bannon, according to the reports, in turn resents Kushner for bringing into the White House figures associated with Democrats, including Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs banker who is Trump’s chief economic adviser, and Zeke Emanuel, a physician who consulted with the Obama administration on the Affordable Care Act and is the brother of Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff. Kushner reportedly has hosted three meetings with Zeke Emanuel. Cohn and Emanuel are Jewish.

‘Alt-right’ leader Richard Spencer: ‘Heil Trump’ at supremacist event was fun, exuberance

Richard Spencer, the founder of a right supremacist think tank, said an event in which he shouted “Heil Trump” as participants raised their arms was not threatening but fun.  

“I understand why people were offended, but they have to understand the context in which it happened. The context of fun and exuberance,” Spencer told left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz in an interview.

Speakers at the November daylong conference of the National Policy Institute quoted Nazi propaganda and said the media protects Jewish interests. Spencer is considered the founder of the “alt-right,” a far-right movement whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

Spencer told Haaretz in the interview published over the weekend that Jews and minorities have a place in his vision of America as a white country.

All citizens should have the same rights and protections. American citizenship is not up for debate. I’m talking about identity,” he said.

“Donald Trump would be the first step for identity politics for white people in the United States,” he added. “His election was not about conservatism. It was not about the religious right, and it has not been about capitalism or the constitution. Donald Trump is a nationalist, and that is something brand new and it is something to be excited about, because I feel like the tide is turning in the United States.”

Spencer said it is the president-elect’s “business” who has a role in a Trump White House, including the roles of his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner and Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

He told Haaretz he hoped the U.S. government would stop providing aid to Israel. “Israel is an incredibly wealthy and successful nation-state, it has booming industries. It’s rather odd for the United States to be giving financial aid to a First World country,” he said. He also said that the U.S. should not take sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, though it would be “wonderful, obviously,” if the U.S. could broker a deal.

When asked about Israel declaring its capital in Jerusalem, Spencer said: “Wherever Israel wants to declare its capital, I would respect that.”

He reiterated to Haaretz that member of the alt-right “are not neo-Nazis” and that he would not collaborate on events with neo-Nazis. “I don’t know any neo-Nazis that want to work with me, to be honest,” he said.

What happens after Trump?

Everybody who didn’t vote for Donald Trump is in a panic over what will happen during his time in office. 

I’m worried about what happens after.

The fact that Trump already has begun to backtrack on so many core promises gives me a smidge of hope. It proves his positions didn’t arise out of any ideology other than the need to get elected. Locked in a room with his buyers — the voters — Trump did what any successful businessman does: He said anything necessary to get to yes.

Now, it appears, Trump is open to reason. For the near future, the second-most powerful person in the world will always be the last person Donald Trump spoke to. With any luck, that person will always be Barack Obama.

The fact that Trump is meeting with Obama frequently, that the neo-Nazis — otherwise known as the “alt-right” — already have expressed some disillusionment with him, and that he has backtracked on many promises are signs that he is not the destructive force they prayed for. 

To Trump, the only thing more important than the size of his fingers is the size of his portfolio. He will always stop short of doing anything that will put at risk an economy and system that works all too well for him. I imagine Obama explained global warming to Trump in exactly those terms: You can have all the coal-fired power plants you want, but get used to pumping seawater out of the first floor of Mar-a-Lago.

Because of his plastic belief system and ultimate self-interest, Trump’s rule doesn’t worry me these days as much as the dangerous low standard his victory has set for American politics, and what that means in the not-too-distant future.

Last week, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens tweeted his concern that the leading candidate for Democratic National Committee chairman, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was once a member of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam.

 “How is this not disqualifying?” Stephens wrote.

And I thought: How quaint. How positively 2012 to think there remains such a thing as disqualifying in American politics. 

In so many ways, Trump has set the bar so low that he has paved the way for the next person, who may have fewer scruples, less restraint and more nefarious intentions. 

That, to me, is the darkest legacy of Trump’s victory.

Never again will a candidate be expected to be financially transparent. Trump refused to release his tax returns, and no one seems to care, or even question that, anymore. From now on, voters won’t even be assured of having that basic level of transparency. Post election, he has refused to untangle himself from his business interests, which may or may not include countries antagonistic to the United States.

Never again will a candidate’s immoral, criminal behavior toward women automatically be out of bounds. Trump survived the “Access Hollywood” tape and the accounts of women who claim he molested them. The fact that he received almost half of the women’s vote is cover for the next guy. 

Never again will widespread neo-Nazi support be considered un-American. Trump used neo-Nazis, which media sources refer to euphemistically as the “alt-right,” to help fuel his campaign, and the neo-Nazis used Trump to gain legitimacy (hence the anodyne-sounding “alt-right”). As conservative commentator Ben Shapiro explained this week in Slate, “I don’t think Trump is particularly racist. I think he’s an ignoramus. [He] is willing to pay heed to and wink at anybody who provides him even a shred of good coverage.”

Never again will singling out a religious or ethnic group be disqualifying. Trump ran on an anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim platform. But racism, like love, knows no boundaries. In the future, a candidate just as easily can direct that hate toward other groups.

Never again will a demagogue believe Americans won’t buy a Big Lie. Trump told one whopper after another and got elected. He told another this week — that there were “millions” of fraudulent votes. What won’t voters swallow?

The real problem with Trump is not that he is Don the Barbarian, come to destroy us, but that he is the harbinger of someone far, far worse than himself. His victory has lowered the standards for what we expect of major presidential candidates and will enable far less savory characters to make common cause with neo-Nazis, build coalitions of hate, hide their personal interests and claim precedent while doing do.

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a novel about a young man who returns to America after a long absence to find that a second Holocaust is taking place there. This week, I reread it. The perpetrator of what the protagonist calls “Time 2” is a plump-faced multimillionaire TV celebrity who promises to restore America’s greatness once all races and colors unite — against the Jews. 

The agents I sent it to way back when rejected it as far-fetched and paranoid. These days, it doesn’t even read like fiction, but like what’s next.


ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter ” target=”_blank”>@RobEshman.

Trump team condemns ‘racism’ without addressing pro-Trump event with Nazi salutes

Donald Trump’s transition team declined to directly condemn a conference where his victory was hailed as a triumph for white supremacists, instead reiterating a general denunciation of racism.

Asked by NBC and other media to comment on the weekend conference in Washington D.C. , the president-elect’s transition team said Monday that Trump opposed “racism of any kind.”

“President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he was elected because he will be a leader for every American,” the transition team said. “To think otherwise is a complete misrepresentation of the movement that united Americans from all backgrounds.”

The weekend conference convened by Richard Spencer, a founder of the alt-right movement, was a festival of racist and anti-Semitic preening. When Spencer said “Hail Trump,” some at the conference responded with Nazi salutes and cried out “Heil victory!”

At least one Jewish group and one Israeli political leader suggested in statements that the Trump team’s statement did not go far enough, and that they still expected to hear direct condemnation of the conference.

“Watching Spencer using Nazi slogans to spew forth his hate was sickening,” said a statement by Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, leaders of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, after the Trump transition team’s comment. “We call on our future president and commander-in-chief to take on Spencer and his ilk directly.”

Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, made a similar appeal to Trump and to outgoing President Barack Obama.

“One of the greatest mistakes humanity ever made was a failure to recognize the danger of fascism early enough and tackle it head on,” he said Tuesday morning. “I have every confidence that President Obama and President-elect Trump oppose this abhorrent phenomenon, now is the time to translate that opposition into unequivocal condemnation and swift action.”

The alt-right is a loose far-right movement whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

Trump and his campaign have borrowed images and themes originating in the alt-right, including a number that have brought condemnation from Jewish and anti-bias groups. Trump himself throughout the campaign delivered broadsides against Muslims and Hispanics, antagonized black groups and the disabled and used vulgar terms to describe women.

White supremacists and anti-Semites endorsed Trump before the election and have celebrated his victory. Trump has denounced racism and rejected the endorsements, but he has typically done so only when prompted by the media. At times, he has added to these repudiations angry denunciations of the media for making an issue of his support among racists.

In a statement issued before the Trump transition team’s comment was posted, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum expressed its alarm at the Spencer event, held in the Ronald Reagan building just a short walk from the museum.

“The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words,” it said. “The Museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders, and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech. “

Following the alt-right event, conference-goers decamped to a restaurant, Maggiano’s, where some posed for photos raising their arms in a Nazi salute. Maggiano’s, on Facebook, apologized to the Friendship Heights neighborhood where it is situated and said it was donating the profits from the evening, $10,000, to the Anti-Defamation League.

CNN apologizes for banner questioning ‘if Jews are people’

CNN apologized for  a banner flashed onscreen during a segment on white supremacist groups which read, “Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people.”

The segment was aired Monday on “The Lead,” which was being guest-hosted by Jim Sciutto.

On Tuesday, CNN said in a statement concerning the banner, known as a chyron: “It was poor judgment and we very much regret it and apologize.”

The Monday segment concerned statements made over the weekend by Richard Spencer at an event of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump in order to protect Jewish interests. “One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” Spencer said.

Sciutto referred to Spencer’s remarks as “hate-filled garbage,” and the rest of the panel also expressed disgust after seeing a clip of Spencer’s remarks.

The Lead’s regular host, Jake Tapper, who was on vacation, criticized the chyron in several tweets.

He also tweeted in response to a complaint that the alt-right was given a platform on CNN: “they were not given a platform. The chyron was, however, unacceptable and will not happen again.”

A tempered Ayaan Hirsi Ali preaches Muslim integration in the Age of Trump

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the Somali-born author and activist best known for her outspoken and sometimes-incendiary critique of Islam. 

Throughout four books, she has compared Islam with Nazism, described it as a “destructive, nihilistic cult of death,” and suggested that well-meaning Muslims “pick another God.” 

Her overblown rhetoric has gotten her into trouble on more than one occasion — but that was before overblown rhetoric could pave a path to the White House. Based on her statements, Hirsi Ali could easily fit in with the next administration’s anti-Islamist foreign policy. But at age 47, she’s recently begun softening her critique, publicly distinguishing Islamic culture, with its 1,400 years of tradition, from political Islam, the fuel of extremists.

Given her intellectual evolution, I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d agree with Donald Trump’s rhetorical jihad on Muslims — including calls for a nationwide Muslim registry and a ban on Muslim immigration. So when she visited Los Angeles last week to speak at the women’s-only salon series Inher Circle, founded and curated by philanthropist Beth Friedman, I thought I’d ask her.

“If I look at just the Islamic statements [Trump] made during the campaign, he’s someone who knows that something is up,” Hirsi Ali said to the room of 100 women who paid $135 each to hear her speak at The Peninsula. But then she digressed into a prolix answer that belied her accord with the president-elect.  

“If he had said, ‘Let’s ban all Hindus until we figure out what is going on,’ I think everyone would have thought, ‘What’s up with the Hindus?’ 

“After 9/11, I think we should be very specific about making a distinction between Islam and Muslims. I take the position that not all Muslims are violent or misogynistic; I think in fact that the majority of Muslims are like all other people — many are peace-loving and many suffer because of Sharia law. And it’s crucial that we understand this diversity — those who are advancing an agenda that is hostile to our way of life, [those] who are on the fence, and [those] who are risking their lives to reform Islam from within,” she said. “If we fail to make that distinction, then we are lost. Then we get into a place where we start to make really bad policy mistakes.”

Behold, the woman who has called for Islam to reform its views has modeled moderation by reforming her own. This is to her credit; a capacity for critical thinking that enables even critical self-reflection is disabling to critics who accuse her of being radical herself. And it’s no secret Hirsi Ali was declared persona non grata by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled her an “anti-Muslim extremist,” which caused considerable backlash of its own. Is a staunch critic of Islam necessarily anti-Muslim?  

“I grew up in a Muslim household, and I have the common sense to say I can distinguish between those who mean harm, those who don’t, and those who are in between,” she said. “President [Barack] Obama, and before him President [George W.] Bush, stood before us on world platforms and said, ‘Islam is a religion of peace.’ Excuse my language, but that’s bull—-. It is not bigoted to say that that is bull—-.”

So she hasn’t softened entirely. But one expects a devoted fearlessness from a woman whose biography tested her will at every turn. Having spent her childhood crisscrossing between Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, Hirsi Ali was thoroughly indoctrinated into the Wahhabi sect of Islam. Shortly after she was born, her political activist father was imprisoned for opposing the ruling government in Somalia. While he fulfilled his prison sentence, Hirsi Ali’s grandmother defied his wishes and arranged for 5-year-old Hirsi Ali to undergo female genital mutilation. 

By the time she was a teenager, Hirsi Ali had adopted a lifestyle in compliance with the strictest dictates of the Quran. But the final straw was when she was forced into marriage with a cousin in Canada. “If I went to Canada, I would then live as the wife of that man, I would have children with him and I would be forever miserable just like my mother was miserable, just like all the women around me were miserable.”

On her way there, she seized the opportunity to escape the Sharia shackles of her youth, skipped her connection in Germany and took a train to the Netherlands where she was granted political asylum. 

What if a Muslim ban had prevented her from the liberation she relishes now? 

“I have been in the place where I had to knock on the door of a free country and say, ‘Please let me in,’ ” she said, responding to a question from former CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin. “And as soon as I was let in, I started to adapt.” 

Hirsi Ali differentiated, however, between different kinds of immigrants — those who adapt, those who are ambivalent about integration and “fanatics” who want to impose their way of life on their host country. Not everyone uses their new freedom to fight for the rights of others as she has for oppressed women, “but the minimum is that you adjust.” 

“One has to remember that whatever [immigration] policy is applied, it’s applied to human beings. It changes lives — it’s men, it’s women, it’s children, it’s families.”

I asked her privately if, now that she has a free life in America, she fears what the next administration might bring. “Trump isn’t regime change,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You know what keeps me up at night? [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.”


Danielle Berrin is a senior writer and columnist at the Jewish Journal

Alt-right conference in Washington quotes Nazi propaganda, says media protects Jews

Speakers at an event of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute quoted Nazi propaganda and said the media protects Jewish interests.

The day-long event of speeches and panel discussions attended by about 200 people was held Saturday in Washington, D.C.

The New York Times reported Monday that the final speaker of the evening, the institute’s founder Richard Spencer, railed against Jews, quoted Nazi propaganda and said that America belonged to white people.

The Times called Spencer the “leading ideologue of the alt-right movement,” a loose far-right movement whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

Spencer used a Nazi term to describe the mainstream media, calling it “Lügenpresse,” or lying press.

Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump in order to protect Jewish interests, and referred to the political commentators as “soulless golems.”

One speaker, Peter Brimelow, the founder of Vdare.com, an anti-immigration website, said that Trump and his White House chief strategist Steve Bannon are “not alt-right people,” but that they capitalized on issues important to the movement, including stopping immigration and ending political correctness.

Spencer called Trump too beholden to Israel and said his movement is not necessarily opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, according to the Times.

As Spencer finished speaking, several audience members gave a Nazi-like salute. “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the people in the room shouted, according to the Times.

Digital hate: After the election, will this be our new normal?

It was February, right after the South Carolina Republican primary, and Donald Trump had been declared the winner. Bethany Mandel, a writer who usually focuses on politics and culture from a conservative perspective, was upset that Trump seemed to be emerging as a legitimate candidate. 

Observing that many Twitter users who proclaimed their love for Trump were just as generous with their anti-Semitic rhetoric and invective, she tweeted: “Another night blocking all the anti-Semites who are helping Trump make American [sic] great again.” 

Mandel, an outspoken anti-Trump Republican, had been a Twitter target before, so she expected some Twitter hate. But she wasn’t prepared for what was to come.

“The floodgates opened,” she said in an interview with the Jewish Journal. 

That first night she blocked an estimated 350 to 400 accounts that had begun sending her anti-Semitic and threatening messages, along with what she described as “a lot of Holocaust imagery.” There were images of her Photoshopped into photographs of Holocaust victims or concentration camp scenes, and cartoons depicting Jews being shoved into ovens. 

“It was impossible to keep up with; it seemed like a coordinated attack, not an organic thing,” she said, speculating that the perpetrator of the deluge was “a Russian bot farm, doing this to interfere with the electoral process. 

The ADL report

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Task Force on Harassment and Journalism released “Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016 Presidential Campaign,” a report that set out to document these attacks. Mandel makes the list as one of the “top ten most targeted.” 

The ADL report noted 2.6 million tweets containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech from August 2015 to July 2016, with a significant uptick starting in January as presidential campaign coverage kicked into high gear. At least 800 journalists received anti-Semitic tweets with an estimated reach of 45 million impressions. 

The report also noted that all of the top 10 most targeted journalists are Jewish. They received 83 percent of “overtly anti-Semitic tweets” “which may contribute to reinforcing and normalizing anti-Semitic language on a massive scale.” Offenders are even creating new words — such as using “skypes” instead of “kikes” — in order to evade spam and hate-speech filters. 

The ADL plans to publish a follow-up report outlining recommendations for how to respond to anti-Semitism online during its Nov. 17 event, “Never Is Now: The ADL Summit on Anti-Semitism,” in New York City.

Among the highest profile examples, journalist Julia Ioffe was targeted after writing a profile of Melania Trump for GQ Magazine in May. She was met with anti-Semitic responses from people musing that her face would look good on a lampshade; at a conference in June, she also said that people had ordered caskets and homicide cleanups to her apartment. (Mandel and Ioffe are advisers on the ADL task force that published the report.)

New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman tweeted about casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s support for Trump, and about the anti-Semitic response to Ioffe’s article, which made Weisman a target as well. In a piece called “The Nazi Tweets of ‘Trump God Emperor,’ ” Weisman reported that the only image he blocked and forwarded to Twitter was “a photo of my disembodied head held aloft, long Orthodox hair locks called payot Photoshopped on my sideburns and a skullcap placed as a crown. I let stand the image of a smiling Mr. Trump in Nazi uniform flicking the switch on a gas chamber containing my Photoshopped face.” 

Weisman subsequently disengaged from Twitter altogether, defecting instead to Facebook, “where at least people need to use their real names and can’t hide behind fakery to spread their hate.” 

Trump: Not the cause, but a connection

While the ADL report “identifies some self-styled followers” of Trump to be the source of these anti-Semitic Twitter attacks against reporters, it also states that “we cannot and do not attribute causation to Mr. Trump, and thus we cannot and do not assign blame to Mr. Trump for these ugly tweets … while we cannot (and do not) say that the candidate caused the targeting of reporters, we can say that he may have created an atmosphere in which such targeting arose.”

But other observers are more blunt in assigning blame to Trump and the forces his campaign has unleashed. Over the past few months, there have been incidents that paint a picture of the atmosphere in question. 

“Once Donald Trump entered the scene, something changed. … Suddenly a lot of people who were normally in shadowed corners of the internet felt emboldened,” said Jason Weixelbaum, a historian and a doctoral student at American University in Washington, D.C., who has also been the target of Twitter hatred for his work — his dissertation focuses on American businesses in Nazi Germany. 

More backlash — and questionable intentions

In June, Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Rabbi Susan Goldberg participated in “Stop Trump: Vigil Against Violence and Hate.” She tweeted a photo of herself and several other Jews bearing signs reading “Jews Against Trump” and used the hashtag #weveseenthisbefore, which has been in use over the past few months to rouse Jews to action against Trump’s campaign. 

The response to the tweet was immediate and vitriolic from white supremacists, Goldberg said. One said that “Jews have always been antagonizing the ethnic interests of white people,” while another gleefully tweeted that “Jewish rejections of Trump are his biggest endorsements.”

In early July, the Trump campaign re-tweeted an image of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” shown in front of a pile of money and accompanied by a red, six-pointed star. Was the image a reference to Jews and money, a well-traveled anti-Semitic trope, or was the star — as the Trump campaign alleged — benign, meant to evoke a sheriff’s badge? Was it just a careless social media share, an absence of due diligence by the social media team, or a willful oversight meant to appeal to the white nationalists who had identified Trump as their great hope to make America white again? 

The campaign eventually converted the star into a circle, but didn’t apologize or admit it made a mistake in sourcing the original image. Nor did it condemn the type of content or commit to increased vigilance about sourcing material so it wouldn’t happen again. 

Those who responded negatively to this image and the campaign’s lack of responsibility for circulating it were met with a barrage of anti-Semitic images and comments that invoked the Holocaust. In the case of 25-year-old Laura Silverman, one message read, “I would like you to take a nap in an oven”; another featured a pile of ashes with the caption “Straight Outta Auschwitz.” 

Just last week, media mogul Russell Simmons explained in a video for Fortune why Trump, his friend for 30 years, is not fit to be president: “I’ve heard anti-Semitic things, not blatant, but pretty clear that he was harboring some, we all harbor some hate, right? And the fear is that his statements would take people who would never even admit to having those seeds of hate in them and one of those seeds, in those people, would say things they’d never even imagine saying, and that became the norm.” 

How far does it go?

The hate, while disturbing and graphic and suddenly visible to many who might not have believed that such sentiments could even exist, may actually be louder than it is widespread. 

So said Ben Shapiro — a conservative columnist who is on record as being anti-Trump and who landed at No. 1 on the list of targeted reporters released by the ADL — on his internet television program “The Ben Shapiro Show” last week. He pointed out that the report links Trump support to what he characterized as “a small but loud amount of supporters who tweet gas chamber memes at people,” but that the “vast majority of Trump supporters find this sort of stuff absolutely reprehensible” and  “to overestimate the percentage of the population would be wrong and foolish.”

Mandel said that the most remarkable and valuable part of the ADL report was the finding that about 1,600 accounts are responsible for 68 percent of the hate. 

“It’s much sexier to say there’s an explosion of hate,” she said, “but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This is 1,600 very loud accounts that had an amplified voice this election season.” 

After the election

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, the question those on the receiving end of this rise of hate are asking is whether it will vanish or wane come Nov. 8, or if hate — and its amplification via social media — is here to stay, regardless of who wins the presidency. 

“The seeds have been present for some time,” said Steven Windmueller, professor emeritus at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he taught courses on contemporary political issues and American Jewish affairs at the Los Angeles campus. 

“Election season itself, the campaign with both parties, has created a kind of ugliness and negativity where some of these voices have come to play and are more visible.”

Windmueller cited earlier attacks on Marco Rubio for “being too close to the Jews” or Bernie Sanders being seen as a spokesperson for “Jewish interests.” He also said that many factors contributed to the increase in hate speech: the rise of the alt-right, the development of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and the fact that Jews are “suddenly being seen as the establishment — high-profile journalists and even as candidates.” 

The new normal?

Mandel predicts — and hopes — that after this campaign season, “the intelligence community takes a serious look at the varied and scary ways that Russia tried to interfere with electoral process this year.” 

While the media have been blaming Trump for the hate tweets, she believes that “this is more Russia than it is him. He might be asking [Vladimir] Putin to do this. The actions of the Russians that we know about [WikiLeaks and Democratic National Committee hacks] are certainly changing the way this election is playing out.”

One of the major shifts will be for the Republican Party, Weixelbaum predicted, explaining that the “rise of existential racism is a culmination of the Republican Party dealing with the entropy between its voter coalitions, social conservatives, evangelicals and business folks,” a tension that he called “not sustainable over time.”

“Trump is not an aberration,” Weixelbaum said. “He’s a culmination, that what was pulling all those coalitions together was racism. Racism is not going to be something that’s going to be successful in a society that’s made up of a lot of ethnic groups, so the Republican Party has to dissolve and clean its own house, get away from the racist common thread or they’re going to be a regional party that may have a seat in Congress but can’t win the presidency.”

Windmueller said that the Jewish community’s national organizations, as well as its local community relations agencies, will also have to “push back against this being accepted conduct and discourse.” He noted the importance of having grass-roots interfaith, inter-ethnic coalitions and communities of diversity speaking with one voice.

“The most important step is for those who believe that it’s OK to extol these kinds of words and views to see that they’re being pushed back not just by Jews who are upset but Christians and Muslims and others. There’s a great, angry divide in the country but the solutions will come in collaborative efforts, not with the language of the street or the language of hate,” he said. “The question is what happens on the 9th of November. Hopefully we will take a deep sigh and address these real serious challenges.”

Windmueller paused to point out that Nov. 9 also marks Kristallnacht, the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass pogrom in 1938 that he called “the beginning of the end of German Jewry.”

“It’s so eerie when you put the date up against history. It struck me immediately as an interesting contrast,” he said, then paused again. “Hopefully a contrast.”

Donald Trump Jr. posts Instagram photo of himself grouped with alt-right symbol Pepe the Frog

Donald Trump Jr. posted to Instagram a movie poster parody of himself heroically grouped with others deemed “The Deplorables,” including a cartoon frog that has become a popular symbol for white supremacists.

“Apparently I made the cut as one of ‘the Deplorables,'” Trump Jr. said in the posting Sunday of the image, which featured himself; his father, Republican nominee Donald Trump, and Pepe the Frog grouped together and parodying the poster for the action movie series “The Expendables.”

The deplorables reference was to remarks made last week by the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, dividing Trump’s supporters between “deplorables,” meaning bigots, and hard-working Americans who had difficulties advancing in the economy.

Pepe is a cartoon frog who has been ubiquitous on the internet over the last decade, but who in the last year or so has become popular as the flag-bearer of the alt-right, which advances an insular conservatism favoring white people.

“All kidding aside I am honored to be grouped with the hard working men and women of this great nation that have supported @realdonaldtrump and know that he can fix the mess created by politicians in Washington,” Trump Jr. said.

Also featured in the picture were others close to the Trump campaign, including vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Eric Trump, the nominee’s second son.

In the picture, too, are Alex Jones, the radio host and conspiracy theorist, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a writer who has celebrated the rise of the alt-right as it has attached itself to Trump’s candidacy, despite the nominee’s occasional expressions rejecting the movement.

The picture’s provenance is not clear.

Trump Jr. and his father have been criticized during the campaign for adopting themes and associating with individuals known on the alt-right. Last month, Trump Jr. retweeted an attack on Clinton by Kevin MacDonald, a psychologist notorious for his theories of Jewish manipulation and control. The tweet itself was unremarkable and did not refer to Jews.

American Nazi leader: Trump victory would be ‘real opportunity’ for white nationalists

The chairman of the American Nazi Party said on his radio program that a Donald Trump victory in November would present a “real opportunity” for white supremacist groups to build political coalitions.

“Now, if Trump does win, okay, it’s going to be a real opportunity for people like white nationalists, acting intelligently to build upon that, and to go and start — you know how you have the black political caucus and whatnot in Congress, and, everything, to start building on something like that, okay,” Rocky Suhayda, said on his program last month. “It doesn’t have to be anti, like the movement’s been for decades, so much as it has to be pro-white. It’s kinda hard to go and call us bigots if we don’t go around and act like a bigot. That’s what the movement should contemplate. All right.”

Suhayda’s comments were reported Saturday by Buzzfeed. Based in Michigan, Suhayda’s group is one of a number of small groups calling themselves the American Nazi Party and claiming to have descended from the organization founded in the 1960s by the late George Lincoln Rockwell.

Trump’s campaign for the White House has drawn support from other white nationalists. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has praised the Republican nominee, support Trump later disavowed.

Trump also drew fire for retweeting an image of Hillary Clinton, thought by many to be anti-Semitic, which originally had appeared in internet forums of the white supremacist alt-right.

Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic troll army

At least in my world, it seemed the hackneyed Jewish conspiracy theories of yesteryear had finally died an undignified and well-deserved death.

That was, until I found my Twitter feed full of them last week.

It started with Donald Trump. Last week’s Jewish Journal included an article I wrote about a resurgence of anti-Semitism, mostly online, linked to pro-Trump activism and the so-called Alternative Right, or alt-right movement, a loosely defined set of far-right and ultra-nationalist ideologues.

The article was posted online on June 2 at 11:17 a.m. At 1:22 p.m., a Twitter user who goes by The Current Year tweeted at me in response to the question posed in the headline: Will Donald Trump Make America Hate Again? 

“(((@Eitan_Arom))) Yes. Nothing wrong w/ whites advocating for their own interests. #AltRight”

The triple parentheses — (((@Eitan_Arom))) — is the newest inside joke of the alt-right. The idea is that Jewish names echo through history — the parentheses are styled as “echoes” — since Jews are, as per the oldest motif in the racist’s handbook, the puppet-masters of the banks, the media, the government, etc.

So when The Current Year put my name in echoes, he was saying, in effect, “Hey, look at this uppity Jew; let’s troll him,” and the response was predictable.

The several dozen tweets that followed ran the gamut from the tired to the bizarre, but their basic premise is that Jews control the media, Jews control the government, Jews invented the Holocaust, Jews, Jews, Jews.

Perhaps the only new feature of anti-Semitism in the internet age is its application to today’s news cycle — members of the alt-right connect Jews with what they see as a globalist agenda of open borders and free trade.

“Did you really think your ppl could advocate open borders everywhere but israel and noone would notice?” Spencer asked me via Twitter.

It is the Jews, in the alt-right imagination, who are the cause of white marginalization.

As Twitter user Julius Ebola wrote me, “Pretty sure America has been hating whites for decades thanks your (((media))) and (((academia)))”

Based on my feed, the alt-right is not all, as Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, writing in Breitbart News called them recently, a “fearsomely intelligent group of thinkers.”

Instead, I encountered a battalion of armchair theorists struggling painfully to summon up “white” as a nationality, even a cultural identity, and filling it with bigotry and hate.

With death rates and substance abuse on the rise in white America, it’s clear that hurt and loss are part of what has pushed people online in search of community. Too often, they have encountered instead a hateful parody of one.

For our idiosyncratic ways, Jews are now, as we have long been, an easy target. So what to do with the haters and their new vogue?

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic last week offered an answer by encasing his own username on Twitter in a set of echoes, inspiring a number of others, including the Jewish Journal, to do the same.

“Thanks to everyone participating in this act of (((cultural appropriation))),” he tweeted on June 3. “Since the culture in question is Nazi, it’s permissible.”

For some on the alt-right, the sudden proliferation of Jewish Twitter users “echoing” their own names was proof in the pudding.

In the words of The Emboldening, a Twitter user whose avatar riffs on the Nazi storm trooper insignia: “The sheer volume of handles in parentheses proves the point: Jews are wildly over represented everywhere.”

The path that Goldberg set out is, of course, fraught.

When we roll around with trolls, don’t we dirty ourselves, and on top of it give them the fight they’re spoiling for?

Perhaps reversing their game runs the risk of emboldening them. But they are already pretty bold.

The haters seem to be multiplying.

Sure enough, their numbers have swelled to a disproportionate bloat on the internet, thanks to bored teenagers exploring a moral-free space, alongside the true, dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semites. But the web provides a mask for racists no less effective than a Ku Klux Klan hood.

Not only is the mongering of Jewish conspiracies alive, it has a new home and an online vernacular retrofitted to an old hatred.

The emboldening is underway, folks. Can’t say you weren’t warned.


Eitan Arom is a staff writer at the Jewish Journal. He can be reached at eitana@jewishjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Eitan_Arom.