How the GOP Brought Antisemitism from the Margins to the White House

Breaking News
tags: conspiracy theories, conservatism, far right, antisemitism

Despite the extensive evidence of widespread far-right antisemitism, much of the public discourse has focused on antisemitism on the left, or on antisemitism by non-white individuals who are inaccurately characterized as acting on a left-wing political agenda. A 2018-19 study by Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog, shows that in the 11 months following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October 2018, mainstream media discussed antisemitic rhetoric on the left more than antisemitic violence on the right.

Part of the reason for this, Ellman-Golan says, is a well-coordinated right-wing campaign to paint the Democrats as the “party of antisemitism.” On March 10, 2019 — two weeks before Brooks quoted from Mein Kampf in Congress — Wyoming Republican Senator Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican House member, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that since regaining control of the House in the November 2018 midterms, the Democrats had become “the party of antisemitism, the party of infanticide, the party of socialism.”

Two days later, Cheney repeated these exact terms during a press conference on Capitol Hill, stating that the House GOP’s “big, overall message” would be to connect the Democrats to this trifecta of accusations as part of its 2020 election strategy.

The fact that this strategy has met some success is down to a range of factors. One, says Bend the Arc CEO Stosh Cotler, is that many Americans — including progressives — are less familiar with what antisemitism is and how it manifests than with other forms of oppression. “Antisemitism can be difficult for all people to recognize, including Jews,” Cotler explains. “So when the general public is being told through a very well-funded, right-wing message machine that antisemitism is most dangerous coming from the left, we need to be actively refuting it while lifting up a more accurate reflection of what is really true.”

There is a historical component to the right’s success in claiming that antisemitism is more prevalent on the left. As Cotler notes, the political right has “essentially owned the definition of antisemitism” since the 1960s, with the emergence of what was termed the “new antisemitism.” The theorists behind this strand of thought pointed to the radical left, the Soviet Union, and Muslim countries as the major contemporary proponents of Jew-hatred, while conflating anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

comments powered by Disqus