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Guest Editorial: Antisemitism has no place in the Republican Party

A year and a half ago, Norm Coleman, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stood alongside his counterpart at the Jewish Democratic Council to share an ominous warning about the resurgence of antisemitism. “Democrats and Republicans should be doing what we can to end the scourge of antisemitism, to slow it where it’s growing,” the former U.S. senator from Minnesota cautioned. “Antisemitism is an evil … not confined to one time, one place, or one ideology. It is woven out of lies about Jews and our history and feeds on hatred, fear and jealousy.”

Since then, antisemitism has only grown worse. There’s basketball player Kyrie Irving promoting an antisemitic film; Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, defending Hitler; and right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos baiting the media into reprinting his vile antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories. The mainstream media coverage of these antics has bolstered the online following of millennial white supremacists such as Holocaust-denier Nicholas Fuentes, who has laughingly compared Jews killed in concentration camps to baking cookies in an oven.

“I would characterize this as the normalization of antisemitism. It has now become part of the political process in a way we hadn’t seen before,” says Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Democrats like to blame all this on Republicans, but Mr. Greenblatt would differ. “And that is not unique to Republicans. It is not just a Republican problem. It is a societal problem.”

The rantings of fringe elements and radical politicians are easily dismissed but too often pave the way for mainstream acceptance of antisemitism. This casual acceptance of antisemitism was dramatically demonstrated in the results of a recent Resume Builder survey that found 1 in 4 hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League reports that there were more than 2,700 incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism nationwide.

University and college campuses dominated by progressives have rather surprisingly become centers of the new wave of antisemitism. The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law found more than half of Jewish college students say they felt the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus and that two-thirds of them had experienced or were familiar with acts of antisemitism in the past four months.

Thankfully, however, a conservative playbook exists for responding to this insidious threat. In the 1950s, when antisemitic groups seemed to be gaining traction among some conservatives, William F. Buckley, the intellectual godfather of the modern conservative movement, responded by adopting what he once described as a “hypersensitivity to antisemitism.” Buckley spent four decades “policing” the conservative movement against both overt and coded antisemitic statements by conservative writers, leaders and politicians. For Buckley, there was no middle ground. He enforced a firm rule — banning all writers affiliated with known antisemitic publications from appearing in his National Review.

Republicans and conservatives today should emulate Buckley. As history repeats itself, so must our reaction to it. If Republicans and conservatives fail to respond as Buckley did in the ’50s, we will be acquiescing in the degradation of the cultural tolerance essential to the functioning of a free society. We cannot sink to the level of indifference that now permeates the Democratic Party, where antisemites like Rep. Ilhan Omar are allowed to spread their vile hatred of the Jewish people with impunity. “To be a good progressive increasingly requires distorting Jewish history and disavowing the Jewish state,” says journalist Bari Weiss.

Republicans must not follow the Democrats in accepting antisemitism. That’s why I will introduce a resolution for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting to unequivocally condemn all antisemitic elements attempting to infiltrate our conservative coalition. We must continue to enforce Buckley’s doctrine: Antisemitism has no place in our political discourse.

In this respect, as with so many things, Republican governors are already leading the way. On his first day in office, Virginia Gov, Glenn Youngkin established the Commission to Combat Antisemitism to address the problem in his state.

Buckley got it. So does Mr. Youngkin. The Republican Party gets it as well and should stand up and say so as former Sen. Coleman did … even if in today’s world, there will be few if any progressives willing to stand with us.

This guest editorial was written by Shawn Steel, a former chairman of the California Republican Party, who serves as California’s representative on the Republican National Committee; it was originally published in The Washington Times.


  1. Democratric Rep. Omar gets the cold shoulder from her party leadership, occasionally a public scolding when her anti-Israel remarks are too much, Note being anti-Israel is critical of a nation, not the religion of its citizens. Republicans have a plague of anti-Semitism in their ranks because a recent party leader with his anti-Semitic tropes rationalized bigoted behavior on a grand scale while in office. Remember Charlottesville? Years later so-called Republican leaders, advisors, advocates, whatever, cannot find the courage to tell that former leader to shut up and go away. Reap what you sow, Mr Steel

  2. Sorry Mr “Michelle” Steel. You and the remainder of the old wave of Republican party leadership and fundraisers have cultivated radicalism as a rational response to your perceived evils of Democrats. Now the radicals have raged on for about 20 years now and turned on those like you that have been feeding their corruption and hate. It is out of control and your spouse is too much of a coward to put a muzzle on the chaos that is now consuming the Republican party. You will have a groveling and subservient House Republican leader lacking in any ethics. You all deserve to be pushed aside by the crazies that now run the Republican party.

  3. When someone writes an article on anti-Semitism and quotes the awful Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL, you immediately realize the writer has little concept of the issue. Instead the writer has gone with a touchy-feely meaningless piece.

    The progressive Greenblatt is exactly where you start if you want to look at anti-Semitism because he and his organization have helped nurture the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. The ADL used to be a valuable organization but like many organizations corrupted by progressive leadership, it exists today primarily to attack conservatives of all faiths.

    Jonathan Greenblatt is an embarrassment to most Jewish Americans who are conservatives. As a Jewish woman, I would not trust Greenblatt on anything.

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