Republicans Accused of Using Anti-Semitic Smears in Campaign Ads
The killing of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October was a wake-up call for Americans who assumed that anti-Semitism was a remnant of the past.
Many of the responses to the attacks were heartening; Muslims in the U.S. raised $150,000 in only 50 hours for Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. The #showupforshabbat campaign encouraged Jews and non-Jews alike to attend services or dinner on the first Sabbath after the attacks.
Various Republican candidates’ campaigns, however, chose a divisive approach, creating ads that feature anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes just days after the mass killing.
In Juneau, Alaska, there was a mailer from a local Republican group that, as The Washington Post reports, attacked state Senate candidate Jesse Diehl “with the image of a man stuffing a fat stack of hundred dollar bills into his suit,” trading on stereotypes of linking Jews to money.
In North Carolina, the state GOP created a similar ad with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also with a stack of bills. The same scenario played out near Seattle, with Democrat Kim Schrier, and in California, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Identity, race and often racism have been prominent features of the midterm campaigns, but as the Post observes, “concerns about anti-Semitism and questions about whether it is being fanned by the flames of conspiracy theories and political fearmongering have come to the fore.”
Pamela Nadell, a history professor at American University and the director of its Jewish studies program, told the Post that “what’s stunning is that these are old images that are very similar to those from other eras and other places,” elaborating that “I will say I have not seen images like this in 21st-century America before.”
The ads in Juneau prompted conversations both inside and out of the small local Jewish community. Scott Kendall, the Alaska governor’s chief of staff, who is Jewish, said he asked the group behind the ad, the Republican Women of Juneau, to apologize and put out a statement condemning anti-Semitism, which it has yet to do. It also didn’t respond to the Post’s requests for comment.
In North Carolina, Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state’s Republican Party, was defensive when asked about the Schumer ad, telling the Post, “The question itself, not the mailer, is a racist anti-Semitic smear.” He also told the Post that the question about the ad was “the single dumbest and most outrageous inquiry I’ve ever had from a member of the media.”
In Washington state, the Republican Party claimed the ads were simply showing how Schrier would probably raise taxes.
None of the responses (at least the printed ones) from state Republican parties to the Post’s questions included condemnation of anti-Semitism.
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