An op-ed piece in the Atlanta Jewish Times by Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones that was titled “How one Jewish family shaped my views: Vernon Jones recalls the family that inspired him to speak up for Jewish Americans” was removed on Wednesday night from the newspaper’s website after Marisa Pyle, a Jewish aide to Democrat Stacey Abrams, tweeted that it was “disgusting.”
Kaylene Ladinsky, Editor and Managing Publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, issued a follow-up statement saying:
“Rep. Jones’ essay was published by mistake. It is our policy not to publish politically driven opinion pieces such as this one, especially from anyone this controversial. As of 7:05 PM, the article has been taken down from our site. It would have been done sooner, but we had to wait until the Holy Day was complete. The ATJ is a bi-partisan news source and we do not support white supremacists, nor extremists. We apologize for any confusion this mistake may have caused our readers.”
Before we continue with this tale of Cancel Culture, it’s only fair that you, our readers, will get a chance to see for yourselves what raised the repugnance of Stacey Abrams’ staff member and publisher Ladinsky. I fished it out of the Internet cache that doesn’t forget anything, and are running it here under the fair use doctrine—but I also contacted the Jones campaign for approval – and received the enthusiastic approval of the campaign’s Heather Wallace to run the piece as it had appeared for four hours on the AJT’s website. You’re also welcome to read a variation of the same article that was published on NewsMax.
How One Jewish Family Shaped My Views
Vernon Jones recalls the family that inspired him to speak up for Jewish Americans.
By Vernon Jones September 7, 2021, 9:33 PM
The American Jewish community’s strong support of Israel has always helped steer a strong United States-Israel alliance. Unfortunately, as Zionist loyalties have started to dissolve among newer generations, politicians are starting to consider support for Israel detrimental to their political careers. This is shameful. These politicians are afraid to take a stand against anti-Semitism, while other politicians fully embrace it. Ignorance of the importance of a strong relationship with Israel is reaching its boiling point and the onus to speak out against this downward spiral is on public servants like me.
Jewish communities have positively impacted my life for as long as I can remember. It started when I was just a child. I was raised with my siblings in the small town of Laurinburg, North Carolina. My parents were farmers who did their best to provide for us. We never had the best luxuries in life, but they ensured that we had food in our bellies and shirts on our backs. Laurinburg was also home to the Risks, a kind Jewish family that settled down near us. The Risk family owned a merchant store in town, which was common for small rural communities at the time.
Despite my parents being simple farmers, Mr. and Mrs. Risk always treated them with the utmost respect. Our church clothes were usually hand-me-downs, but when we grew out of those and my parents had to buy new dress clothes, they would take us to the Risk family’s store. When Mr. Risk would take my measurements, he made me feel special. And when our parents couldn’t afford the clothes, Mr. Risk would tell them to just pay their debts when they could afford it. This generosity meant so much to us, and I have never forgotten the Risk family’s kindness or the moments we shared.
In fact, my bond with them is one of the reasons why I pushed to recognize Jewish heritage in my time as Chief Elected Official of DeKalb County. Soon after I was elected to the office, I established an annual Holocaust commemorative service in DeKalb County to honor our Jewish communities and the journeys that they made to reach the United States. We must recognize the atrocities that occurred in the past and ensure that similar events never happen again. Too many Americans in the 21st century have no idea of the true horrors that Jewish communities suffered under the terror of Nazi occupation, and we must educate future generations so that history does not repeat itself.
And before I stepped down as the top executive of DeKalb County, I worked to introduce an Anne Frank exhibit in an effort to educate my constituents on the Holocaust, along with the trials and tribulations that Jewish communities faced in the early 20th century. When organizing the exhibit, the owners of the building where the exhibit was originally intended to be located turned me down because they didn’t want it located there. I refused to let that deter me, and instead had the exhibit showcased at the Historic DeKalb Courthouse.
The interactions I had growing up around the Risk family have been a catalyst, but not the sole motivating factor for my determination to speak up for Jewish Americans. This determination is becoming rare. The radical Democrat lobby no longer values our Jewish allies overseas. I am surprised and quite frankly taken back by how the Democrats have cut and run on our nation’s Jewish communities and Israel. Do they not realize the national security implications of their actions?
In May earlier this year, Democrats in the House of Representatives successfully blocked legislation that would have imposed sanctions on foreign entities providing assistance to Hamas. To put that into perspective, the U.S. government officially recognizes Hamas as a “Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” and the terrorist group has made a habit out of frequently targeting Israel. Hamas reportedly fired thousands of rockets at Israel earlier in the summer, but Democrats appeared perfectly fine with allowing the terrorist organization to remain unscathed after such a vicious and disgusting attack.
Rather than support Israel, several prominent Democrats attacked the nation for daring to fight back after the Hamas barrage. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) called Israel’s retaliation “an act of terrorism.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) even appeared to tweet that Israel was an “apartheid state.” And Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) attacked her fellow Americans for simply defending Israel. This is the Democratic Party that America is dealing with today, and I cannot tolerate this bigotry any longer. When I am elected governor, I won’t be cutting and running on Israel and the Jewish community.
Ladinsky apologized some more for running the above, pro-Israel, pro-Black-Jewish friendship, tweeting: “I would like to apologize for publishing the essay submitted from Rep. Vernon Jones, as a holiday community message. We have recently hired new editorial staff, and with the hustle and bustle of the Jewish holidays the essay from this political figure made our holiday pages.”
I would like to apologize for publishing the essay submitted from Rep. Vernon Jones, as a holiday community message. We have recently hired new editorial staff, and with the hustle and bustle of the Jewish holidays the essay from this political figure made our holiday pages. pic.twitter.com/zu24ACqGkl
— Atlanta Jewish Times (@AtlJewishTimes) September 9, 2021
When the article first appeared online, Marisa Pyle tweeted: “Literally during the Days of Awe, @AtlJewishTimes is platforming a far-right extremist who held multiple rallies *LAST YEAR* with anti-Semites Alex Jones and holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, along with the head of the Proud Boys and other white supremacists. Disgusting.”
Literally during the Days of Awe, @AtlJewishTimes is platforming a far-right extremist who held multiple rallies *LAST YEAR* with antisemites Alex Jones and holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, along with the head of the Proud Boys and other white supremacists. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/NXMWWm7mOc
— Marisa Pyle (@marisapk) September 8, 2021
Let’s unpack this information. Is Vernon Jones “a far-right extremist?”
Let’s go to Wiki: Jones served as a Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001 and 2017 to 2021. He became a Republican in 2020 after endorsing Donald Trump for re-election and speaking at the 2020 Republican National Convention. He definitely supported Trump’s claims of being robbed of the 2020 election, but so do about 40% of the country, including the majority of the Republican Congressional delegation. Does it make him a “far-right extremist?”
I checked his platform. He is committed to election integrity, calling for the replacement of the Dominion voting machines. Not going to happen, it’s sheer pandering to the Trump crowd, move on.
A Georgia First Economy, looking to reduce or even eliminate the state income tax. By now this is a fairly centrist position, arguing that taxation inhibits productivity and reduces wealth. Discuss.
The Second Amendment. If elected, Jones will put a gun in every pot, so to speak. He’ll make Georgia a constitutional carry state. It may result in fewer Georgians, but in today’s Republican party it’s quite benign.
Protect Our Children: Jones promises legislation that will ban political and social indoctrination in schools, as well as ban medical professionals from turning boys into girls and vice versa before they are of age. OMG, if this makes him a far-right extremist then I’ve been one for years and no one told me.
Hate Crime 2.0 legislation will make it a hate crime to commit violence against a person over their politics or affiliation. Nothing extremist here (personally, I’m against those hate crime extra penalties, but Jones isn’t).
The Peaceful Protest Act will enhance the penalties for rioting. Do you think it’s a far-right extremist idea that the cops should be permitted to stop protests from turning into looting and burning?
So Pyle was wrong, to be kind, in pinning this ungracious defamation on the gubernatorial candidate from Georgia. In reality, she simply lied.
The late American poet, biographer, journalist, and editor Carl Sandburg has taught us: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.” Pyle did just that. Unable to make the case regarding Jones himself, she went for the tried and true guilt by association. She attacked his association with “anti-Semites Alex Jones and holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, along with the head of the Proud Boys and other white supremacists.”
I looked for news of those appearances and found only one, a November 18, 2020 tweet by reporter Brendan Gutenschwager that went: “Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, Nick Fuentes, and Vernon Jones wrap things up inside the Capitol, honoring law enforcement‘s request to avoid getting too loud inside and take their protest outdoors.” I watched the tape, Jones is seen asking the demonstrators to file out and respect the police that gave them permission to associate there in the first place. If there were more events like this one, “multiple rallies,” according to Pyle, I need to see them.
Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, Nick Fuentes and Vernon Jones wrap things up inside the Capitol, honoring law enforcement‘s request to avoid getting too loud inside and take their protest outdoors #Atlanta #Georgia #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/aaK53bAlMe
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) November 18, 2020
Now, is Alex Jones an anti-Semite? Mind you, I can’t stand the man, he makes me cringe, but is he a Jew-hater? I went to the experts. The ADL published an item headlined, “Alex Jones: Five Things to Know.” They list all the things about Alex Jones that make me look away before I lose my lunch. Anti-Semitism was not on that list. In fact, Item four goes: “Jones’s on-air persona is not demonstrably anti-Semitic, but he has featured anti-Semitic guests on his show.” However, Jones definitely goes after leftist Jews, as I have been known to do on occasion.
Nick Fuentes is a real problem. According to the ADL, he plays fast and furious with the Jewish card, insults Jews (he referred to Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh as “shabbos goy race traitor” because he works for Ben Shapiro). Read it all here: “Nicholas J. Fuentes: Five Things to Know.” The man is definitely what you might call a far-right extremist, to say the least. Ben Shapiro labels Fuentes a “garbage person”.
Nick Fuentes is a garbage person with garbage beliefs. Twitter is also filled with lots of garbage people with garbage beliefs. Only certain people get banned. Nobody should trust Twitter’s supposed free speech neutrality.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 9, 2021
However, the only event that featured Jones and Fuentes together was the same November 18 get-together at the capital. If anyone out there knows better, please send it in and we’ll run it.
Atlanta Antifascist (ANTIFA) did tweet this message: “Vernon Jones (center) poses with neo-Nazi and former Klan leader Chester Doles (L) last year, at an event hosted by Doles’ ‘American Patriots USA.'”
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) September 8, 2021
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has condemned Vernon Jones’s appearance in photos with Chester Doles, “a longtime white supremacist who spent decades in the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi National Alliance. He was sentenced to prison for the 1993 beating of a Black man in Maryland and again on weapons violations in Georgia. He also associated with the Hammerskins, a racist skinhead gang with whom he marched in 2017′s violent United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
Jones for his part suggested earlier this year the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is attacking him because “they know the Governor can’t beat Stacey Abrams and what’s more frightening, they know Stacey Abrams can’t beat Vernon Jones.”
This report is not an endorsement of Vernon Jones, who has been photographed at rallies near some bad people, including some anti-Semites—who appear to be using him as some kind of a token Black Republican, in a weird sort of intersectionality—but is that enough to dub him personally a far-right extremist and kill his astute, very pro-Jewish, pro-Israel op-ed? I don’t think so.
We asked the campaign for a statement regarding Jones’s appearances in some rally photos with white power individuals such as Chester Doles and Nick Fuentes. Here’s what Vernon Jones stated in response:
“I don’t know these people. As a person of color I have always opposed racial supremacy of any kind. I have always stood & will always stand with Jewish people. I wish them a happy & healthy new year.”
That’s quite some unabashed support for Israel and the Jewish people for a supposed extremist.
I’d like to use this occasion to nominate Marisa Pyle and Kaylene Ladinsky as the Jewish Karens of the year 5782.
The JewishPress.com received the following response from Kaylene Ladinsky:
The article that you have published by Daniel Israel is very misleading and defamatory to my reputation.
The article was never “cancelled” see page 34 of our print edition, published on Aug. 31. We only took it down from our website, as I made the mistake of not vetting Rep. Jones and was unaware that he was running for office. Our policy has always been that we only publish political figures that are running for office, if we have everyone on the ticket running side-by-side, the piece still ran the print edition.
Please revise your article to share the truth. You may reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx, if you have any questions. https://issuu.com/atlantajewishtimes/docs/august_31_rosh_hashanah_web/34
Finally, a special place in bad journalism hell should be reserved to the Jerusalem Post editor who picked this nauseating image to accompany the JTA report. Just despicable.
This article has been updated to include the response from Kaylene Ladinsky.