Donald Trump’s uphill battle for the presidency seemed to derail after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape on which Trump is heard boasting of sexually abusing women. Now, Trump’s white nationalist supporters are blaming a Jew for leaking it.
Should Trump lose the election, will Jews be blamed?
Andrew Anglin, editor of the anti-Semitic website the Daily Stormer, provided an answer on Oct. 11: “We knew whoever leaked the tape was a Jew. And a #NeverTrump Jew adviser to [House Speaker] Paul Ryan is currently being pointed at as being responsible. …
“If we lose this election, it is going to be because of this p****-grabbing tape. And having it be known that it was a Jew is extremely important. …
“Because if we lose, this country is going to enter a new age of anti-Semitism. The 35% or so of the country that is hardcore pro-Trump is going to know that it wasn’t ‘liberals’ that defeated Trump, but traitors within the party who abandoned him. And they are going to want to know why that happened. And there is only one answer: The Jews did it.”
Anglin, along with Lee Rogers of Infostormer (formerly “The Daily Slave”), have been singled out by the Anti-Defamation League as neo-Nazis who have encouraged their followers to tweet anti-Semitic language and memes at Jewish journalists. It said in a report released this week that there has been a “troubling, year-long rise in anti-Semitic hate targeting journalists on Twitter” that has been driven by the rhetoric of the presidential campaign.
The latest Jewish reporter targeted is Hadas Gold, who writes for the political news website Politico. A photoshopped image of Gold was posted Monday on Twitter, including a bloody bullet hole in her forehead and a yellow star, like those worn by Jews in Nazi Germany, pinned to her chest. She also received emails with threatening and anti-Semitic messages.
“Don’t mess with our boy Trump or you will be first in line for the camp,” read a message accompanying the photo. “Aliyah [immigration to Israel] or line up by the wall, your choice.”
Twitter quickly suspended the sender’s account after being notified of the post. Oren Segal, a director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said Twitter has been responsive in suspending accounts once it is notified of offensive content.
The ADL report said the organization had identified some 1,600 Twitter accounts as being responsible for 68 percent of the anti-Semitic tweets directed at Jewish journalists. Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, said 21 percent of those accounts have been suspended and that the ADL has sent its report to Twitter. Among the targeted reporters are Julia Ioffe of GQ and Politico, CNN’s Jake Tapper, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times.
“The tweets are not innocuous notes, they sometimes are threats,” said Greenblatt. “And the images they send are right out of [the Nazi newspaper] Der Sturmer. The majority of the accounts driving the harassment are users who identify themselves as Donald Trump supporters.”
Although Trump has refuted on more than one occasion the bigoted and anti-Semitic rhetoric that has emerged from what Greenblatt calls the “cesspools” of hate, Trump has also used code words, phrases and themes that Greenblatt said “have historically been used against Jews.”
The most recent was just last Thursday during a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla. In a statement, Greenblatt said Trump “focused on the very issues and themes that obsess conspiratorial anti-Semites: They believe that there is an elite group of Jews who control the media, the government, and banking, and who are trying to destroy white America. They also believe that most of Hillary Clinton’s donors are Jewish.
“When Trump says that ‘Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty’ and gives voice to other conspiracy theories, it certainly raises the antennae of American Jews and other concerned citizens who are all too familiar with how these notions have been used to blame Jews through history. And his anti-Semitic supporters are already interpreting it as another validation of their bigoted views concerning Jews.”
In an interview, Greenblatt stressed that “this is not about politics but prejudice, and what we have seen again and again over the course of this campaign gives us great cause for concern.”
In response, one of Trump’s Jewish advisers, Jason Greenblatt, called the ADL’s statement “irresponsible.”
“Jonathan Greenblatt is trying to connect the hatred and bigotry of some despicable individuals with the movement to Make America Great Again that Mr. Trump is leading,” he said. “Note that, in his recent comments, Jonathan Greenblatt did not dispute Mr. Trump’s description that Secretary [Hillary] Clinton is at the heart of a global power structure that has stripped the United States of its wealth to line the pockets of corporate and political interests. Jonathan Greenblatt is merely trying to divert the attention of the voters away from these facts by fabricating connections to anti-Semitism.
“Jonathan Greenblatt seems to be willing to ignore Mr. Trump’s lifelong commitment and support of Israel and the Jewish community, as well as his forceful rebuke of anti-Semitism. …”
But the ADL is not the only organization concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism and bigotry during the last year. Jason Isaacson, the American Jewish Committee’s director of government and international affairs, said the presidential campaign has “stirred up hate and a great deal of anti-Semitism that I don’t expect to vanish on November 9.”
“This can’t be minimized,” he stressed. “Even if there are [only] a few thousand individuals with hyperactive Twitter accounts, it has an affect on the young, the weak-minded and the easily persuaded — and these numbers could be huge. It could lead to violence and an imbedded prejudice that will take years to deal with.”
Isaacson called on “civil society, public officials, the media and religious authorities to immediately focus on this issue and raise the level of consciousness even higher by promoting messages of tolerance and the unacceptability of prejudice. Political parties and candidates that stand to benefit from these expressions of hate have to be put on notice that this can no longer be tolerated in our society.”
One of those religious leaders, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said it is up to the Republican and Democratic leadership “to bring this country together and re-marginalize this marginal behavior” that in the past had been “dismissed and discredited by the leadership on both sides of the aisles.”
“Will sane leadership push it back to the margins?” he asked. “Unfortunately I have not seen from candidate Trump the type of repudiation necessary to do that. And I would want to see how the Republican leadership responds to this following the election – and the Democratic leadership, too. Frankly, I’m concerned that there was a lot of talk about the Democratic Party’s platform and anti-Israel sentiment. I don’t think the far left is any less worrisome than the far right.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a statement that he too is “deeply disturbed” by the surfacing of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry during this election season.
“It’s a reminder to all that the core American values of religious freedom and pluralism must be perpetually celebrated and defended,” he said. “We know from history that anti-Semitism has a particular virulence. All people of goodwill need to condemn these kinds of heinous ideas and words.”