If nothing else, the Pittsburgh massacre should underline for all American Jews that our ongoing struggle against hate is not a narrow sectarian interest or a partisan political tool. It is a matter of life or death—for your neighbors, your synagogue, your family, your children, your parents and grandparents, for our community.
In that spirit, we want to emphasize, as Nathan Rubin does today in our pages, just how important it is to have friends and allies in the ongoing struggle against hate.
We also want to make clear that open and blatant anti-Semitism—as well as validating and associating with open and blatant anti-Semites who spread their poison in our country or call for the elimination or destruction of Jewish communities anywhere else in the world—is not acceptable, ever. Licensing hate means death for Jews.
Anti-Semitism is a bright red line in our politics that no one in our public life can be permitted to cross and expect to receive the support of our community, whether we are proud Democrats or proud Republicans.
Support for Israel is not an excuse for calling for the elimination of Jews or the Jewish religion. Support for immigrants or other marginalized groups is also not an excuse. Past histories of individual or group oppression at the hands of anyone, anywhere is not an excuse. Being Jewish, or having a Jewish parent or grandparent, is not an excuse. There are no more excuses.
In that spirit, here is a list of candidates in Tuesday’s hotly contested congressional elections who have expressed blatantly anti-Semitic views or endorsed or refused to condemn individuals or ideas that are blatantly anti-Semitic.
Republican, California’s 11th Congressional District
“Everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie,” John Fitzgerald told the Hitler-glorifying radio host Andrew Carrington Hitchcock. “My entire campaign, for the most part, is about exposing this lie.”
When learning of Fitzgerald’s anti-Semitic views, including his open espousal of Holocaust denial and his warnings against the dangers of “Jewish supremacy,” the California Republican Party immediately rescinded its endorsement. The party’s move did not surprise Fitzgerald, the candidate said in an interview, since both political parties in America are run by the same people: “Jewish elitists.”
Fitzgerald’s long record of anti-Semitic statements is the depressing history of one man’s monomaniacal hatred. What is interesting is how easily the twisted, conspiratorial accusations he lobs at “Jews” and “world Jewry” might have come from a supporter of Louis Farrakhan or an anti-Israel maniac on the left. He indicts Jews for their “prominent role” in the slave trade; asserts that Israel was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, which it used to further its global agenda; attacks “Jewish control and supremacy”; and complains that he is being “lambasted for telling the truth.”
Like Fitzgerald, the anti-Semitic lunacy he traffics in has no political party. It is, rather, a party of its own—a political virus that is happy to find hosts wherever it can.
Republican, Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District
Quick, what do you believe to be “the biggest, blackest lie in history”? If the answer is the Holocaust, Arthur Jones is the candidate for you. A perennially unsuccessful candidate for a variety of municipal and statewide offices since the 1970s, he shot to infamy for brawling on The Jerry Springer Show.
A frequent speaker at KKK and Aryan Nation events, Jones isn’t as layered and intricate as the other candidates on this list: He’s a neo-Nazi who openly celebrates Adolf Hitler, denies the Holocaust, and disapproves of Donald Trump because of the Jewish members of his family. He once even swallowed his hatred of non-white people to declare, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I salute Louis Farrakhan and anyone else who stands up against the Jews.”
In a recent interview, Jones tried to convince voters to see his inner, softer side. “There’s more to me than being a denier of the Holocaust,” he said. Maybe. But there is also that.
Rep. Danny K. Davis
Democrat, Illinois’ 7th Congressional District
“I personally know [Louis Farrakhan], I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him,” Democratic Rep. Danny Davis told The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson. “I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything, I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate and he plays a big role in the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people.”
In actuality, Farrakhan is a racist and homophobic cult leader who blames Jews for everything from the slave trade to Sept. 11. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have exhaustively documented Farrakhan’s viciously anti-Semitic outbursts. Here is Rep. Davis’ “outstanding human being” in Farrakhan’s own words:
“You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell.” —(Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/25/96)
“Did you know that Jesus had a real problem with the Jewish community? They had power, the rabbis of that day, over the Roman authorities just as they have power today over our government.” —(Remarks at Indianapolis Convention Center, Indianapolis, 12/1/13)
“In all of these cities on a Jewish holiday, business stops because they are the masters not only in America’s cities but in cities throughout Europe and the Western world.” —(The Time and What Must Be Done, Part 20: Making Satan Known, 5/25/13)
“The Jewish media has normalized sexual degeneracy, profanity, and all kinds of sin.” —(The Time and What Must Be Done, Part 20: Making Satan Known, 5/25/13)
“Now you know I’m going to be lambasted and called anti-Semitic. … They’ll say Farrakhan was up to his old canards; he said Jews control Hollywood. Well, they said it themselves! Jews control the media. They said it themselves! Jews and some gentiles control the banking industry, international banks. They do! In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?” —(Holy Day of Atonement Keynote Address, Part 2, Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/21/12)
“In 100 years, they control movies, television, recording, publishing, commerce, radio, they own it all. Magazines. Why do you want all, everything?” —(Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/26/12)
“These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strength. It’s the wicked Jews the false Jews that are promoting Lesbianism, homosexuality. It’s wicked Jews, false Jews that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic.” —(Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/26/06)
Under pressure from J Street and other progressive organizations, Davis condemned Farrakhan. But it was forced and disingenuous—not least of all because he has in fact been defending Farrakhan and his acolytes since he was an alderman in Chicago, when Barack Obama was a young local community organizer there, as the former president’s biographer David Garrow has documented. That’s a long, and deep, history of support for—and engagement with—the country’s most vicious and unabashed anti-Semite.
Republican elected officials from Donald Trump on down have rightly faced heavy criticism from Democrats over their ties to and defenses of bigoted hate groups and individuals. Whether Democrats will hold their own official, Rep. Davis, to the same standard remains to be seen. Thus far, all 20 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who served in Congress at the time of Davis’ main Farrakhan meeting have declined to comment on it or condemn the man himself.
Rep. Andre Carson
Democrat, Indiana’s 7th Congressional District
Here is a childish and ugly little game that has become a familiar and tiresome part of the American political scene: Members of the Congressional Black Caucus play footsie with the anti-Semitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan, find themselves criticized by reporters and by Jewish organizations, and then issue mealy mouthed condemnations of “racism” or “all forms of bigotry and hatred.” The apologies are issued with all the sincerity of teenagers who would rather be somewhere else. Winning in this game means getting Jews to shut up, without actually denouncing Farrakhan.
The game’s all-time winner, if that’s the right word, is Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana. Here is the Indianapolis Star’s account of its interview with Carson earlier this year, after his latest public dalliance with America’s most prominent anti-Semitic hate monger:
In a 50-minute phone interview on Friday, Carson avoided criticizing Farrakhan directly, declined to characterize Farrakhan’s remarks as “hate speech,” and would not rule out meeting with Farrakhan in the future to discuss policy concerns.
Carson is reported to have attended multiple meetings with Farrakhan and has met with the Nation of Islam hate-group leader while in Congress. He also joined New York Rep. Gregory Meeks and current deputy Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Keith Ellison, then a congressman from Minnesota, at a 2013 dinner hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Farrakhan was also present at that dinner.
Carson also joined Ellison in visiting Farrakhan at his hotel room, Farrakhan said in December 2016, and he appears to look forward to continuing his visits.
Rep. Steve King
Republican, Iowa’s 4th Congressional District
Iowa Rep. Steve King’s open championing of racist, white supremacist views is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and to the U.S. Congress. His bigotry knows no borders, as evidenced by his endorsement of a virulent anti-Semite named Faith Goldy for mayor of Toronto:
Faith Goldy, an excellent candidate for Toronto mayor, pro Rule of Law, pro Make Canada Safe Again, pro balanced budget, &…BEST of all, Pro Western Civilization and a fighter for our values. @FaithGoldy will not be silenced. https://t.co/uqkeaUjm7i
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) October 17, 2018
Goldy personally traveled all the way from her home in Canada to participate in and sympathetically cover the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. She called alt-right luminary Richard Spencer’s manifesto released before the event “well thought out,” though afterward claimed this “was not an endorsement, it was my sense that there were grounds upon which to engage in conversation, not physical combat, with the alt-right.” Later, Goldy was fired from her job at the conservative outlet Rebel Media after she appeared on a podcast affiliated with the neo-Nazi flagship outlet The Daily Stormer and chummily agreed with the host on every point.
In an April interview, she recommended For My Legionaries, a book by a Romanian fascist that repeatedly assails the alleged “parasitism of the Jews” and calls to combat “the Jewish menace.” She then backtracked slightly, misleadingly claiming that the book’s anti-Semitism was merely a stray aside, rather than a constantly reiterated theme: “It’s now come to my attention that there is a disturbing line later in that book and I wish to state for the record: I do not endorse it.” (A quick look through the full text for Jewish references—available here—easily demonstrates Goldy’s dishonesty.)
Like many bigots, Goldy is an equal opportunity offender. In a December interview with a far-right YouTuber, Goldy smilingly declared, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”—what the Anti-Defamation League calls “the most popular white supremacist slogan in the world,” known as “the 14 words.” Goldy, for her part, added, “I don’t see that that’s controversial; is that bad? I think it’s controversial to say the opposite.”
Why did King endorse a bizarre fringe figure like Goldy? Perhaps it’s because they share similar outlooks, and he swims in the same online ideological universe as she does. After all, in March 2017, King infamously tweeted in support of an anti-immigration European candidate: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” (At the time, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said, “I’d like to think he misspoke.” King told CNN, “I meant exactly what I said.”) In July 2016, King similarly told a panel on MSNBC that “This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
Republican, Michigan’s 11th Congressional District
It was Lena Epstein who chose to invite a non-Jewish “messianic” rabbi to her campaign event outside Detroit on Monday to pray for the victims of Saturday’s massacre in Pittsburgh. She has since doubled down on defending that decision.
The “rabbi” Loren Jacobs, whom Epstein invited, has never been to a rabbinical school but attended an evangelical seminary. He believes that a Jew is damned to hell for being a Jew and was defrocked by his own group of messianic “Jews for Jesus” in 2003 for apparently being too much of a hardliner on this point.
Jacobs opened the Oct. 29 campaign rally by praying to the “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of my Lord and Savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and father too.” He was later brought back on stage by Vice President Mike Pence to pray for the victims and grieving families in Pittsburgh. “Lord, I pray that we would see fewer and fewer horrible tragedies like this. And I pray this ‘beshem Yeshua’—in the name of Jesus,” Jacobs said before Pence moved him away from the podium and off the stage.
As Pence became the focus of criticism after the rally for sharing the stage with Jacobs, representatives for the vice president, an observant Evangelical Christian, have tried to distance him from the event. In various statements, they’ve claimed that the vice president didn’t have anything to do with inviting Jacobs, or any knowledge of the messianic “rabbi” prior to the rally.
Epstein, on the other hand, responded to the outrage and insult she caused by writing: “Any media or political competitor who is attacking me or the Vice President is guilty of nothing short of religious intolerance and should be ashamed.”
In fact, the shame is hers. While there may be no single Jewish community, but rather many bound together by common bonds of faith and tradition, Jacobs belongs to none of them and condemns them all. A person whose core belief is that Jews must be saved from their Jewishness and should rightfully disappear from the face of the planet is, by definition, not a part of the Jewish community, and by the lowest possible standards of decency not the right person to publicly mourn two days after the worst massacre of American Jews on U.S. soil in this country’s history.
Democrat, Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District
As a Minnesota state representative, Ilhan Omar was a fierce and consistent critic of Israel as well as an enthusiastic advocate of restoring America’s diplomatic ties with Iran. Neither of these positions is inherently anti-Semitic, and Omar enjoys the support of leading Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer.
But in May, a conservative political writer from Minnesota resurfaced a noxious 2012 tweet of Omar’s:
Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 16, 2012
The language here is of vital importance, since the idea that Jews, or Jewish entities, control the world via mystical, dark powers is a staple of anti-Semitic conspiracy thought, as illustrated by these bigoted cartoons from different anti-Jewish sources in the last century:
Given the chance to walk back the incendiary language of her tweet and correct any mistaken impressions about her meaning, Omar instead doubled down with no apology: “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews.”
Omar argues that calling Israel an apartheid state and talking about its mesmeric powers isn’t anti-Semitism. We don’t agree.
At a candidate forum in August, held during the last week of the 2018 primary campaign, Omar asserted her support for a two-state solution—leading some supporters to argue that this made up for her previous comments. Some even contrasted her with Rashida Tlaib—the Michigan Democrat who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants—who rescinded her support for a two-state solution after she won her primary.
But, again, narrowly political positions about how to address the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians—including Tlaib’s—are not inherently anti-Semitic. But it is textbook anti-Semitism to attribute supernatural—and thus unseen, and consequently terrifying—powers to Jews or the Jewish state.
Democrat, Virginia’s 5th Congressional District
Leslie Cockburn is the co-author, with her husband, the notorious Israel-hating British conspiracy theorist Andrew Cockburn, of Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship. A favorite reference work for unhinged anti-Semites on both the left and the right, the Cockburns’ book advanced the classically anti-Semitic claim that Israel controls American foreign policy. According to The New York Times, “their book, supposedly a history of the secret ties between Israel and the United States, is largely dedicated to Israel bashing for its own sake. Its first message is that, win or lose, smart or dumb, right or wrong, suave or boorish, Israelis are a menace. The second is that the Israeli-American connection is somewhere behind just about everything that ails us.”
A major thesis of Dangerous Liaison is that evil Israelis manipulate America through their favorite tool, American Jews, who the authors describe as “women with blue hair and pseudo-athletic men,” who have in turn corrupted the purity of the decision-making process with their money, which induces high-ranking U.S. officials including several U.S. presidents to collude in and cover up an outlandish list of supposed Israeli crimes.
But the Cockburns’ understanding of the role of the Jews in making the world a worse place goes far beyond their death grip on Washington. It is global. Israelis train Colombian drug lords in Medellín to kill. They masterminded the genocide of the native population of Guatemala. They induced Egypt’s Nasser to become an anti-Semite and threaten to destroy Israel so they could seize Arab lands in the Six-Day War. Clever, that. They induced Stalin to start the Cold War, by paying Jews to spy on Communist countries from within. Clever, yes, but the entire planet could have been destroyed.
There is little point in arguing with people who wear tin-foil hats. But mainstreaming their lunacy is dangerous.
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From the editors of Tablet Magazine.