HBO’s late-night political satirist Bill Maher sat down with New York Times op-ed editor and writer Bari Weiss on Friday to discuss last week’s deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. It turned out to be a very powerful few minutes of television.
Weiss’ father was once president of a congregation at the Tree of Life synagogue where 11 people were murdered in an anti-Semitic mass shooting, which was motivated by anti-immigrant hate and the suspected shooter’s belief that Jews were helping to bring immigrants into the United States.
Maher said to Weiss, “I mean, this is a guy who didn't like Trump because he wasn't enough of an asshole.” “Exactly, he was too much of a globalist,” jumped in Weiss.
“But, he's definitely heard his message. He definitely heard Trump's message that the invasion is coming,” continued Maher. “What I learned recently – I think from your article – is that when we heard that chant in Charlottesville, 'Jews will not replace us,' I thought they were talking about a Jew will replace me specifically. But they were talking about the fact that Jews will not replace us with the brown people.”
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Weiss agreed with Maher’s assessment, adding, “What is important to remember is that anti-Semitism is not just a prejudice, it's a conspiracy theory.
“It says that there is a secret hand controlling the world – and that secret hand is called the Jew,” Weiss explained. “So even if Trump himself is not an anti-Semite – and I don't believe that he is an anti-Semite – he is inculcating an atmosphere of conspiracy-minded thinking.
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“So when he says things like 'Enemies of the people,' 'Globalists' – you know we can go on and on, it's been happening every day for two years –in the mind of people like Richard Spencer and David Duke they hear 'Jew Jew Jew,' and it's not a surprise that people like that were drawn to Trump's banner,” she said.
Weiss continued to explain how terms like “globalist” have become synonymous with “Jew” on the right, and are nothing more than an anti-Semitic dog-whistle.
She added that “Israel” is used in a similar way on the left, noting that it “comes to replace 'Jew' as the sort of diabolical controller of all the world's ills.”
Maher then railed against the left's treatment of Israel, which led Weiss to discuss how people on the far right like Steve Bannon now champion the Jewish state for all the wrong reasons.
"One thing that I think was made stark this week is that there are many Jews who have liked many of Trump's policies on Israel," she said, citing the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the scuttling of the Iran nuclear deal.
"But I hope this week that American Jews have woken up to the price of that bargain: They have traded policies that they like for the values that have sustained the Jewish people – and frankly, this country – forever: Welcoming the stranger; dignity for all human beings; equality under the law; respect for dissent; love of truth. These are the things we are losing under this president – and no policy is worth that price," she concluded, to applause from the audience.