A writer on the Breitbart News site says that former CEO Stephen K. Bannon — newly-appointed chief strategist and senior adviser to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump — doesn’t have an anti-Semitic bone in his body, despite adamant fears to the contrary by liberal Jewish groups.
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish National Democratic Council have both condemned Trump’s appointment of Bannon as his new chief strategist and senior adviser, even while praising the hiring of former GOP national committee chairman Reince Priebus as the new White House Chief of Staff.
“The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) commends President-elect Trump for appointing Reince Priebus White House Chief of Staff. Priebus has had a long career in politics and public life, and we wish him well in his new role,” wrote Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO.
“At the same time, the ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior adviser and chief strategist in the White House. 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.’
“We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that make our country great,” wrote Greenblatt.
Jewish Democrats in particular are deeply disturbed with Bannon’s appointment.
On Monday, the National Jewish Democratic Council released a statement slamming the appointment, and calling for Bannon to “step down” before even formally taking the post.
“As CEO of Breitbart News, Bannon gave voice to white supremacists and the alt-right. His racism and anti-Semitism have no place in the White House, and he must step down,” the Council said in its statement.
“We fear, however, that Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon is just the first appointment of many individuals who have engaged in, or at least, tolerated anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.
“Our community must not adjust our standards in the face of the unprecedented nature of a Trump administration. Republican leaders like Bill Kristol and John Weaver have expressed their concern. We all have a responsibility to speak out,” the group wrote.
Bannon was once accused of anti-Semitism by his ex-wife during their contentious divorce.
While more recently the accusations began because Bannon gave a great deal of Breitbart website space to alt-right.
It has been argued that he did so, not because he personally is a white nationalist or an anti-Semite, but rather, because the alt-right movement was an effective weapon against the Left. Even if true, it’s a very problematic association and decision to give them a platform.
Though it could be compared to accusations of President Obama of being an anti-Semite, just because he was a friend and member of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s congregation for 20 years, listened to his speeches and even used one of Wright’s sermons as the source for a speech of his own.
A claim of anti-Semitism many would reject.
There are also Jews who personally know Bannon and say that he’s no anti-Semite. One is Joel Pollak, a writer who has worked with him at Breitbart.
I've worked closely w/ Steve Bannon at Breitbart. He's an American patriot who also defends Israel & has deep empathy for the Jewish people.— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) November 13, 2016
Another is Jewish writer David Horowitz, who wrote in an article on the Breitbart News site on Monday, in response to all the outrage: “I have known Steve Bannon for many years. This is a good man. He does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body.
“In his new position as Chief Strategist in the Trump White House, Bannon is the strongest assurance that people who love this country can have in America’s future, the strongest assurance that America is in the hands of people who will give this country a chance to restore itself and defend itself against its enemies at home and abroad.”