After the worst act of anti-Semitic violence in American history occurred Saturday — in which 11 parishioners were gunned down at a Pittsburgh synagogue — the media is mounting an aggressive campaign to portray President Trump as an anti-Semite, and this weekend’s violence an inevitable result of his rhetoric.
While Trump describes himself as a “great friend” of the Jewish people and casts his administration as the most pro-Israel on record, the media say he’s communicating his actual, anti-Semitic beliefs through coded attacks, such as criticizing “globalism” and the left-wing financier, George Soros.
As the attack was still unfolding, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin said anti-Semitism is a “theme” in Trump’s speeches.
“Nationalism goes hand in hand with anti-Semitism,” Rubin said on MSNBC. “The entire idea of anti-Semitism is to put Jews outside the definition of us. That’s what Donald Trump does. That’s his theme. That’s what his party is committed to doing. That comes back in every speech now he gives that comes back in the hysteria over immigration, which is actually at all-time lows.“
Rubin’s MSNBC colleague, Malcolm Nance, said that Trump is not using a “dog whistle,” but rather “a megaphone” to incite anti-Semites with “eliminationist rhetoric.”
“In the intelligence community, we have a phrase for this: ‘Eliminationist rhetoric,’” Nance said. “And the president has not been dabbling in eliminationist rhetoric, at some points he doesn’t dog whistle, he uses megaphones to tell these tribes that they belong to him, and this is leading to violence directly.”
GQ’s Julia Ioffe spent much of the weekend making the case on Twitter and on TV that Trump is a virulent anti-Semite.
On CNN, Ioffe said that Trump is “not on the side of the Jewish community” and is frequently “trafficking” in anti-Semitism.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Ioffe said: “You have talked to the now-president about this back in 2016, you know, this tale of kind of anti-Semitic comments, anti-Semitic tropes seem to follow him everywhere, to the point where his Jewish son-in-law had to write an op-ed saying, ‘my father-in-law is not an anti-Semite.’ Well, usually if you have to say that, it means people keep accusing you of being an anti-Semite and there might be fire where that anti-Semitic smoke is. I think that he has emboldened and in heartened a lot of people who hear the dog whistles. They know exactly what they mean.”
She said of neo-Nazis: “They understand he’s on their side, not on the side of frankly of the Jewish community.”
“I think this rhetoric is out there, in the air,” Ioffe continued. “All the attacks on George Soros, all the talk about globalists. That’s so barely veiled, the veil is see-through. These are anti-Semitic tropes the president has been trafficking in, and it’s not a coincidence that these people pick up on this and think if you’re talking about this, let’s do something about this. They get so riled up that even what he says is not enough.”
Washington Post columnist and frequent TV pundit, Max Boot, said that Republicans like Trump don’t like George Soros’ involvement in American politics because “he’s a rich Jew.”
"Fox News and that crowd, Breitbart, and InfoWars, and the Daily Caller and Republican congressman, they have been vilifying George Soros for years,” Boot said. “And basically because George Soros is a rich Jew, and so when they talk about Soros, they're talking about a rich Jew who’s in control of everything, or when they talk about 'globalist,' which is the term Trump prefers, right-wing extremists hear, Jews, this is the repugnant dog whistling going on. And it’s not just Trump. It’s a lot of Republicans, it's a lot of folks at Fox News. They need to do some serious soul-searching here."
The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein said Trump and Republicans generally are not using “dog whistles,” but “bull horns” to incite anti-Semitism.
“This isn’t dog whistles at this point, they are bull horns,” Stein said. “And I know that we can’t jump to conclusions necessarily about who is responsible for any of this stuff, but I will say this, I think it’s fair to say a climate has been produced vis-a-vis these type of attacks that are either inspiring people or creating the context for them to operate.This man, this lunatic who shot up a synagogue, he referenced the fact that he was fearful that George Soros was funding a caravan of migrants in Honduras to come to the United States. This was his inspiration. And this is what the Republicans have run the election on in the closing weeks.”
On CNN’s State of the Union, the New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman referenced a Trump commercial that criticized special interests like Janet Yellen, George Soros, and Lloyd Blankfein; noting that these individuals happen to be Jewish, Weisman said, “If that’s not a dog whistle that’s a vuvuzela or something like that.”
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said there’s “no dog whistles here with Donald Trump, these are fog horns. He’s blaring it out. He wants the white nationalists to know that he’s on their side.”
He continued: “And every time he has an opportunity to criticize, he always backs away. Like I said, his staff members will write him pretty words to read because they will be freaking out because it’s obvious that he is, of course, uniting with white nationalists in his words and his mindset, and then he will always pull back and he will always go back and said, ‘You know what, they’re not so bad. There are bad people on both sides.’ This is clear, what Donald Trump has been trying to do, and this past weekend we saw the result of it.”