Jewish Republicans blast anti-Semitic attacks on reporters

Coalition condemns ‘troubling increase’ of anti-Jewish invective directed toward journalists covering both parties

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil is the Times of Israel's Washington correspondent.

Julia Ioffe gives an interview to CNN in September 2013 (YouTube screenshot)
Julia Ioffe gives an interview to CNN in September 2013 (YouTube screenshot)

WASHINGTON — Following a series of incidents in which supporters of presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump assailed Jewish journalists with anti-Semitic messages, the Republican Jewish Coalition issued a condemnation Tuesday of what it described as “the troubling increase of anti-Semitic invective directed toward journalists covering both the Democratic and Republican candidates for president.”

“We abhor any abuse of journalists, commentators and writers whether it be from Sanders, Clinton or Trump supporters,” the organization wrote in its statement. “There is no room for any of this in any campaign. Journalists, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity should be free to do their jobs without suffering abuses, anti-Semitic or otherwise.”

Last week, New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman ended up in an unanticipated spotlight when he tweeted out a Washington Post opinion piece “This is how fascism comes to America.” The article was highly critical of Trump, and Weisman soon found himself facing a deluge of anti-Semitic rejoinders on Twitter.

He was mocked for his “vaunted Ashkenazi intelligence” by Twitter user CyberTrump, who said that he was “belling the cat for my fellow goyim.”

Weisman was told that he “should apologize for his anti-Gentile hate speech” and was sent anti-Semitic caricatures similar to those that appeared in Nazi-era publications, complete with hooked nose, beard and yarmulke.

At the time, Weisman tweeted that he was “Flabbergasted that antisemitism in the Trump voter ranks isn’t getting more attention, at least from the RJC.”

In response, “HandsomeGoy4Trump” accused Weisman of getting riled up over nothing. “Jews I know laugh this stuff off, not serious. They have rejected the victim mentality, it’s for the birds and NYT editors.” A second Twitter user was less magnanimous, telling Weisman to “get used to it you fucking kike. You people will be made to pay for the violence and fraud you’ve committed against us.”

While the RJC’s statement referenced anti-Semitic comments by supporters of all three remaining candidates, Trump supporters have faced the sharpest criticism for such attacks. A number of conservative commenters, including Ben Shapiro, John Podhoretz and Bethany Mandel, have been subject to anti-Semitic backlash from Trump supporters.

“I’ve experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump’s candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint,” Shapiro wrote in an article in the right-wing National Review. “They’ve blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber.”

Jewish journalist Julia Ioffe filed a police report when a profile of Melania Trump led to threatening calls to her home telephone. When asked about the response, which included recordings of Hitler’s speeches and calls from crime scene cleanup companies asking when to schedule appointments, Melania Trump said that Ioffe’s critical profile had “provoked” the threats.

Trump himself was asked in an interview about anti-Semitism threats against Ioffe and said that “I don’t know anything about that.” During the same interview, he rejected an opportunity to call for an end to the anti-Semitic harassment, responding that “I don’t have a message to the fans.”

Trump supporters were not entirely alone, however. In January, a Sanders backer complained that Clinton supporters had circulated an image that displayed Sanders with a Star of David displayed alongside a halo atop the Vermont senator’s head.

Sanders supporters, in turn, have been accused of voicing anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories. During a rally in New York, audience member John Prince told the candidate: “You went to Israel for a year. As you know, Zionist Jews—I don’t mean to offend anybody—they running the Federal Reserve, they running Wall Street, they’re running everything.”

While Sanders responded that he was proud of his Judaism, he was criticized for not going further in disavowing the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories voiced by Prince.

The RJC – which Weisman cited for its silence on the issue – declared Tuesday that enough was enough.

“At the RJC, we will be making the case that Jewish values are American values and American values are the Republican values of free markets, peace through strength and unwavering support of Israel,” the statement asserted. “Now more than ever our political process should be geared toward a civil discourse focused on solving our most vexing and intractable problems as a country.”

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