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How Republicans Echo Antisemitic Tropes Despite Declaring Support for Israel How Republicans Echo Antisemitic Tropes Despite Declaring Support for Israel

Prominent Republicans have seized on campus protests to assail what they say is antisemitism on the left. But for years they have mainstreamed anti-Jewish rhetoric.

How Republicans Echo Antisemitic Tropes Despite Declaring Support for Israel

The Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, traveled to Columbia University two weeks ago to decry the “virus of antisemitism” that he said pro-Palestinian protesters were spreading across the country. “They have chased down Jewish students. They have mocked them and reviled them,” he said to jeers from protesters. “They have shouted racial epithets. They have screamed at those who bear the Star of David.”

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Amid the widening protests and the unease, if not fear, among many Jews, Republicans have sought to seize the political advantage by portraying themselves as the true protectors of Israel and Jews under assault from the progressive left.

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Debate rages over the extent to which the protests on the political left constitute coded or even direct attacks on Jews. But far less attention has been paid to a trend on the right: For all of their rhetoric of the moment, increasingly through the Trump era many Republicans have helped inject into the mainstream thinly veiled anti-Jewish messages with deep historical roots.

The conspiracy theory taking on fresh currency is one that dates back hundreds of years and has perennially bubbled into view: that a shady cabal of wealthy Jews secretly controls events and institutions contrary to the national interest of whatever country it is operating in.



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  • Zionism has always been antisemitic

    • Now that's not true. Zionism, as originally envisioned by Theodore Herzl, was about getting Jews the fuck out of Europe before there was a genocide, which he saw coming after the Dreyfus affair. He said he thought defeating antisemitism in Europe would never happen. Yes, the place that Herzl, and others, envisioned was "The Holy Land," where Israel is now, and that was always a bad idea, but it was originally an attempt to avoid the genocide that eventually happened.

      Now, to Herzl's credit, he tried very hard to negotiate a settlement with the Ottomans for a legal land transfer of Palestine to create a Jewish state. The Sultan turned him down, but he never intended to seize the land through military conquest.

      Herzl also wanted a secular state and was not a religious Jew. In fact, he was an Atheist. He and his wife even refused to circumcise their son. He just wanted to save his ethnicity from being killed off in Europe... and then, about 50 years after he died, that's exactly what the Nazis tried to do.

      Zionism today certainly promotes antisemitism, but the original idea, where it was a peaceful land transfer and a secular state designed to avert a coming genocide, was the opposite of antisemitism.