Jewish leaders have condemned President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Steve Bannon, his campaign chief and head of the racist, misogynist, anti-LGBTQ, antisemitic site Breitbart News, to a senior adviser and strategist role in the White House.
In addition to hiring Bannon—whose site once labeled conservative pundit Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew,” and called for the Confederate flag to be flown proudly in the days following the 2015 massacre at a black church in Charlestown—Trump also appointed Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus his chief of staff.
“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’—a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists—is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,'” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.
The ADL’s condemnation comes just weeks after it published a report on the antisemitic targeting of journalists during the 2016 presidential campaign. Of the 2.6 million antisemitic tweets sent last year, 19,253 were directed at Jewish journalists, the ADL found.
“No amount of Jewish family members or potential White House Shabbat dinners will overshadow the fact that Trump has hired a man like Bannon as one of his most senior staffers,” the National Jewish Democratic Committee said in a statement, referencing that Trump’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Jewish. “We won’t forget.”
The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is reportedly “privately apoplectic” at Bannon’s appointment, but will not make a public statement on the matter. Yehuda Yaakov, Israel’s consul general to New England, declined to comment on domestic affairs, but said Trump and those who surround him remain friends of the Jewish state.
In sworn affidavits, Bannon’s ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard, who claimed he choked her, said he refused to send his twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles private school because too many “whiny brat” Jewish students were enrolled there. Bannon has denied this. The late Andrew Breitbart, the site’s namesake, reportedly called Bannon the “Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement,” referring to the German director and Nazi propagandist.
Bannon, 62, received his MBA from Harvard Business School and promptly landed a job in mergers and acquisition at Goldman Sachs in the ’80s. Bannon and several colleagues from the New York investment giant formed Bannon & Co., which helped negotiate the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to media mogul Ted Turner. In return, Bannon received a stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld, and still receives royalties for reruns of the classic sitcom to this day.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the president-elect’s connection to the so-called “alt-right” movement, of which the Bannon-owned Breitbart Media is a central player, is fabricated by the media, and lauded the Bannon-Priebus tandem on Twitter as a “tremendous choice” by Trump. Gingrich added that Bannon couldn’t possibly be an antisemite, as he previously worked in finance and entertainment, two industries highly associated with Jews.
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