Varda Spiegel

Never again, Kellyanne Conway!

Don't let the US president's senior staff get away with pushing a reporter to wear his Jewish heart on his sleeve
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Counselor to US President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, speaks with reporters at the White House, July 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Where are you now? Where have all of you right-fighters against anti-Semitism and guardians of Holocaust terminology, imagery and remembrance gone now that Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway snapped at reporter Andrew Feinberg, “What’s your ethnicity?” Where were you when Andrew Feinberg asked how that was relevant to his request for her comments on Trump’s racist tweets telling four American congresswomen to return to the countries from which they supposedly came? Where were you when Conway shot back, “Because I’m asking you a question,” offering that her own ancestors were from Ireland and Italy.

Feinberg justifiably responded that “My ethnicity is not relevant to the question I’m asking you.” Do you agree with him? Have you said or written or posted so?

You were quick to call foul when AOC used the term “concentration camps” and invoked “Never again!” to describe camps on the US southern border where children ripped from their parents sleep on cement floors, are denied soap and toothbrushes, and forbidden from hugging each other.

You were swift to call it “disrespect” when Pink’s Jewish children played among the pillars of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Was Kellyanne Conway “disrespectful” when she told a Jewish reporter born, raised and working in Washington DC that she is “sick and tired” of “a bunch of Hollywood D-listers who have nothing else to do but sit on their asses on Twitter all day”?

Why didn’t you see yellow stars – like I did – when a White House aide demanded that a Jewish reporter out himself on the White House lawn?

Yes, it’s hot as hell today in Israel, and the temperature in Israel threatens to break a 10-year record. Yes, many of you are seeking relief on beaches in North Tel Aviv, Brighton, and the Hamptons. But surely you could slip into an air-conditioned space as quickly as you do when even the slightest critique of the Trump administration or Israel’s policy causes you to call non-Jews “anti-Semites” and Jews – including myself, a child of Holocaust survivors – “self-hating Jewish collusionists,” at best, and the Jewish K-word for Nazi collaborators, at worst.

Where were those of you who justifiably break the speed of light and the internet when anti-Semites tell Israelis to go back to our nations of origins? Why don’t you object now to Kellyanne Conway’s response to Andrew Feinberg questioning the relevancy of his ethnicity and her defense of Trump’s tweets by saying: “Because you’re asking about…He [Trump] said originally – originally from?” Would you give Conway a pass for telling native Israelis to go back and fix the nations their parents and grandparents came from?

I get that you’re Republican. And you’re reluctant to support Democrats. Would you then support the four brave Republicans — Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Will Hurd (Texas) and Fred Upton (Mich.) — who courageously voted for the resolution to condemn Trump’s tweets? I would.

What would you call the aide of the US president, whom Yair Netanyahu, son of my prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls “a rockstar, best friend Jews ever had”?

I know what I’d call her. I’d call her an anti-Semite.

You demand that Jews retain the copyrights to “Never again!” and that it be invoked only to protect Jews from anti-Semitism and the nightmare that we witnessed in our times. I disagree. But this time, you can have it your way. And so can I.

Never again let Kellyanne Conway speak from the podium at the White House. Never again let Kellyanne Conway force a Jewish reporter to wear his Jewish heart on his sleeve. Never again, Ms. Conway! Never again!

About the Author
Varda Spiegel was Nurse-Director of the Bedouin Mobile Unit of the Negev, later serving as Maternal-Child Health Director for the Ministry of Health Jerusalem District. I am the author of Hershele and the Chicken Skates, was the English Web Content Manager for the Israel Museum and have translated from Hebrew to English for Haaretz and the ANU Museum of the Jewish People. I'm a grandmother, mother, and beachbum.
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