William Kristol. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

This piece first appeared at AlterNet.

An article labeling neoconservative movement leader, Fox News pundit and orchestrator of the #NeverTrump movement William Kristol as a “Renegade Jew” has sparked a frenzy on online news and social media forums. Written by David Horowitz, another neoconservative, for the pro-Trump Breitbart website, the piece trashed Kristol for his plans to back a third party candidate against Trump, the populist evildoer at the top of the Republican establishment’s political kill list.

The phrase “Renegade Jew” has trended on Twitter for days after the publication of Horowitz’s tirade, with many anti-Trump conservatives echoing Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s positive spin: “To be fair, “Renegade Jew” sounds remarkably badass.” Liberals, meanwhile, touted the Horowitz attack as evidence of the anti-Semitism unleashed by the Trump campaign, which has provided fertile soil for grassroots white nationalist organizing.

In almost every case, the commentary on Horowitz’s outburst misses the ironic subtext that explains the origins of the ugly slur: As a leader of the neoconservative faction that formed in the defense of and in alignment with Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, Kristol himself has been a prime promoter of the “Renegade Jew” smear, presiding over campaigns to brand left-wing and liberal Jews as anti-Semitic apostates and demanding they be treated as pariahs by the community in which he and his ideological fellow travelers claim to be the authorities.

Kristol’s Weekly Standard magazine and the Washington Free Beacon online tabloid edited by his son-in-law, Matthew Continetti, have functioned as key vehicles for these smears against “Renegade Jews,” especially targeting liberal supporters of Israel for diverging from the Likudnik party line. Ethnically charged attacks against liberal Jews by Kristol’s media apparatus are so frequent and numerous  that compiling them all might drive a researcher to exhaustion.  A brief  round-up is enough to demonstrate how zealously and routinely Kristol and his cadres have resorted to the “Renegade Jew” smear.

Condemning Goldstone as a traitorous snitch

There are few “Renegade Jews” that Kristol and his Weekly Standard loathe more than those who staff J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobbying organization established to support the Obama administration’s negotiation efforts in Israel-Palestine. Back in 2009, when J Street was founded, the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb described the group as “nothing more than a partisan, Democratic organization trying to provide Jewish cover to an administration that is hostile to Israel — they only stand with the [Iranian] mullahs because Obama stands with the mullahs.”

That same year, Goldfarb composed a satirical poem in the voice of two Jewish poets supposedly disinvited by J Street from the group’s first annual convention. The fake poem written by Goldfarb included the following line: “I write the names of the censored, the silenced, the forgotten the J Street capo has handed my name to the new Jew Gestapo I read my words distorted by neocon distorters.”

In 2010, following Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip, the United Nations appointed Richard Goldstone, a distinguished Jewish jurist from South Africa, to lead its fact-finding mission into alleged war crimes. Goldstone fell under immediate attack from the demagogic pro-Israel lawyer Alan Dershowitz, an attorney who has represented Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is the major financial backer of both the Israeli Likud and US Republican Parties and has now pledged $100 million to the campaign of Donald Trump. Dershowitz engaged in character assassination against Goldstone, calling him a “moser” and an “absolute traitor.”

Drawn from Talmudic teachings, the condemnatory term “moser” refers to Jewish snitches that  betray fellow Jews to Gentile authorities. The traditional punishment for moserim has ranged over the centuries from the severing of tongues and ears to execution. Faced with a torrent of pro-Israel threats, Goldstone was eventually prevented from attending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, a family event that Dershowitz accused him of “politicizing” through his mere presence.

The Weekly Standard eagerly signed on to Dershowitz’s campaign to brand Goldstone as a Renegade Jew. Leading the charge was Rachel Abrams. The late wife of the former Reagan official Elliott Abrams, who pled guilty for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, Rachel Abrams was an outspoken proponent of genocide against Palestinians, describing them as “child sacrificing savages” and “unmanned animals.” After denouncing Goldstone as the “favorite judge” of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (the horror!) during the dark days of apartheid South Africa, Rachel Abrams hailed Dershowitz’s screed against Goldstone’s report on Gaza as “a masterpiece of dismantlement.”

In the end, Goldstone felt the strain of the sustained campaign of vitriol and recanted key aspects report he oversaw, even disowning the co-authors who did the bulk of the research.

The family that smears together

The neoconservative movement is an incestuous enterprise that journalist Jim Lobe called “an extended clan of friends, spouses and children who have known each other for generations.” Rachel Abrams, a former board member of Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel, was the daughter of founding generation neocons Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, who are also the parents of New York Post columnist John Podhoretz and Ruthie Blum, a writer the Adelson funded, pro-Netanyahu daily newspaper Israel Hayom who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement.

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