Steven Windmueller
Is it Good for the Jews?

Anti-Semitism on Capitol Hill: Why Jews Were Political Targets

Words are simply not adequate to define or contain the emotions following this assault on American democracy. But there is a story behind the story!  What happened last Wednesday in DC has been covered by every news agency in the world.  There is however a second story. The presence of anti-Semites and racists who came to DC with their own dangerous and hateful agenda.

The overlay of racism and anti-Semitism in connection with the storming of the Capitol represented a defining piece of last week’s storyline. Even beyond the actual events of last week, the chatter among on-line hate groups has accelerated. Among those present were neo-Confederates, skinheads, white nationalists, holocaust deniers, and Qanon conspiracists,  On their websites and twitter accounts conspiracy theories abound concerning this moment in our history, as they threaten, even now, a new round of violence.

The emerging mantra from white supremist and alt right factions pointed to their belief that the “patriotic” actions taken in Washington were designed to push back against Jewish domination and influence. While conveying different messages, a number of these hate tags identified either Israel or American Jews as part of this nation’s problem.

Five themes emerged from their actions and statements, based on the materials made available by the FBI, the ADL and other intelligence sources.

Identifying Jews as Political Manipulators:

The Trump rally was defined by particular right wing elements as “fighting for the Zionist quo.” The theme of Jewish manipulation and control has been employed by a number of these hate organizations. Some employed this occasion to express their particular frustration that the President’s supporters were being manipulated by Jews.

Carrying these ideas further, the extreme right saw these events as an effort to unleash a war on America, in order to “destroy any remnant that could fight ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government).”

These hate outfits noted in their messages that January 6th should be understood as a first stage in a war that would employ every possible resource that might be mustered in their fight to bring down ZOG!

Various right wing groups interpreted the events on Capitol Hill as a planned effort “To discredit President Trump so that his opponents could empower a Biden administration to implement a repressive agenda.”

As we know anti-Semitism comes in multiple stripes, yet many extremist groups were united in their belief that the events of January 6, 2021 were either planned by Jews or revealed the extent of Jewish and Zionist influence over the American democratic system.

Reframing the Holocaust: An Incomplete Story

The employment of emblems, symbols, and shirts by those who occupied the Capitol would affirm their identities, as they used this moment to convey their multiple messages to align the events of January 6th that the Holocaust was incomplete.  With adopting such attire as “Camp Auschwitz” and “Six Million Not Enough”, these actors sought to appropriate this moment as a stark reminder that the destruction of Jews remains an integral part of their agenda.

Demonizing Israel:

As some demonstrators entered the Speaker’s office, the following scenario would play out. The presence of a menorah in Nancy Pelosi’s office led to the following assessment,  “It looks like that America is definitely not ‘first’ but the Jewish state of israel is number one priority for Pelosi.”

One group described the demonstrators as “worshippers of the Zionist state of counterfeit Israel,” behaving “not like Christians, but like Israeli settlers.” One twitter operative compared the ransacking of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., concluding “I love it when ZOG loses.”

Defining Jews as Powerful Manipulators:

A conspiratorial message that the insurrection was purposely designed “To discredit President Trump so that his opponents could empower a Biden administration to implement a repressive agenda.”

In keeping with their warped notion of Jewish influence and control, the female Trump supporter killed inside the Capitol was described by one anti-Semitic source as “executed by goons of political operatives for ZOG.”

As we know anti-Semitism comes in multiple stripes, so for example, many extremist groups were united in their belief that the events of January 6, 2021 were either planned by Jews or revealed the extent of Jewish and Zionist influence over the American democratic system.

Treating Jews as Disloyal:

 The following message affirms this pattern: “Trump’s term was giving Israel everything they could—propping up Israel, giving them the tech, giving them the Abraham Accords, giving them all of these goodies, everything on their laundry list—and now they’re going to dispose of Trump after they milked us dry and got powerful enough.”

Reflections:

As we know anti-Semitism comes in multiple stripes, so for example, many extremist groups were united in their belief that the events of January 6, 2021 were either planned by Jews or revealed the extent of Jewish and Zionist influence over the American democratic system.

How close had the United States come to the upending of our democracy? This domestic insurrection was the first of its kind in the nearly 250 years of our history. As we push back against this nightmare, we affirm our belief in the uniqueness of the American experience and our stake in the welfare of this nation.

About the Author
Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Prior to coming to HUC, Dr.Windmueller served for ten years as the JCRC Director of the LA Jewish Federation. Between 1973-1985, he was the director of the Greater Albany Jewish Federation (now the Federation of Northeastern New York). He began his career on the staff of the American Jewish Committtee. The author of four books and numerous articles, Steven Windmueller focuses his research and writings on Jewish political behavior, communal trends, and contemporary anti-Semitism.
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