Bannon and Kushner Feud Brings anti-Semitism Out of Hiding

Jared Kushner’s Judaism and Ivanka Trump’s conversion are now targets of the so-called 'alt-right,' as some Trump supporters say the Syrian attack was on behalf of Israel

Donald Trump signed an executive order at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 3, 2017.
KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Media reports of a feud between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have triggered what seems to be a new wave of anti-Semitism among far rightists in the United States.

Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, the leaders of the “alt-right” white nationalist movement had carefully avoiding the subject of his Jewish son-in-law Kushner, the conversion of his daughter Ivanka or the presence of Jewish members in key positions on the White House staff. There was also little mention of the burgeoning relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Yet all this changed when Trump’s chief strategist, Bannon, was removed from the National Security Council last Monday and reports surfaced about the alleged feud between Bannon and Kushner, who has become increasingly prominent on Trump’s team.

Then came Trump’s order to attack the Syrian air base that had launched the chemical weapons attack on a town in Idlib province last Tuesday.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner during a dinner with President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, April 6, 2017.
Alex Brandon/AP

It only took a few hours after the reprisal attack for anti-Semitism to raise its ugly head again, as disappointed Trump supporters protested what they saw as a betrayal of the “America First” agenda, and hinted at a “globalism” conspiracy in the White House.

Richard Spencer, who gained international notoriety following his “Hail Trump!” victory speech last November, was one of the prominent alt-right leaders to blame the Syrian attack on Kushner.

In an interview with Haaretz last December, Spencer had been noncommittal on Kushner’s active role in Trump’s inner circle. “I don’t have a strong position on this, that is his business,” he said. “Trump has been a positive thing. It is what it is. He can pick his own advisers and listen to whoever he chooses, that is his prerogative.

Yet on Saturday, Spencer led a demonstration in front of the White House, with Buzzfeed reporting that protesters waved signs saying the Syrian attack had been conducted on behalf of Israel (“No more wars 4 Israel” read one sign).

“No one voted for Kushner. Indeed, many of us voted against people like Kushner having power,” Spencer wrote on Twitter, quoting others who suggested that “If we are going to put #AmericaFirst, then Trump must #FireKushner.” Someone else wrote: “Ivanka should have married Tom Brady,” the New England Patriots quarterback and Trump supporter who has become an Aryan idol for the alt-right.

Indeed, Ivanka Trump’s conversion no longer seemed to be off limits. “When#Kushner forced Ivanka to convert to Judaism, he indicated his loyalty to Judaism was greater than his loyalty to America” was one recent social media comment.

Ivanka Trump was also accused of being behind Trump’s decision to launch the Syrian attack. “It’s them, it’s them – it’s his daughter and son-in-law who are literally enemies of the republic! I can’t help it, I’m just gonna lay it all out there,” raved Alex Jones on his far-right radio show “Infowars.” One of Trump’s most avid media supporters complained that the president has been “infiltrated by his own family” and is on “autopilot.” He also referred to Kushner as “President Kushner.”

Trump’s former campaign adviser Roger Stone appeared on Jones’ show on Friday to warn: “My greatest concern, in all honesty, is watching the Silicon Valley barons wine and dine Jared and Ivanka – the Google people, the Facebook people.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, meanwhile, tweeted, “Ivanka Cried, Kids Died! Trump’s dramatic U-turn on Syria airstrikes ‘sparked by daughter Ivanka’s heartbreak” – referencing a story in British tabloid The Sun.

While accusations of Trump’s ties to businessman George Soros, the Goldman Sachs investment bank and prominent Jewish millionaires all had the air of anti-Semitic dog whistles, #FireKushner became the top trending hashtag on Twitter last Friday. It was full of anti-Semitic slurs and caricatures, some even depicting Trump himself with a hooked nose.

Others shared the photograph depicting Trump in the Situation Room at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, commenting on the number of advisers in the room who were Jewish.

“We don’t need Jared Kushner leading us into another disastrous war in the Middle East for the benefit of Israel,” wrote Trump supporter Pamela Moore, while the far-right activist Baked Alaska – a prominent Trump supporter on Twitter with 155,000 followers – wrote, “We must #KeepBannon & #FireKushner, we voted for America First, not nation building in the Middle East. Period.”

On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League warned that "an anti-Semitic social media trolling campaign aimed at presidential adviser Jared Kushner has escalated from a series of tweets into a full-bore assault perpetrated primarily by white supremacists and anti-Semites of various stripes, according to an online analysis by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism."

“What started as a few isolated anti-Semitic tweets suggesting that Jared Kushner should be ‘fired’ because of his ‘Jewish supremacist views’ has quickly metastasized into a full-blown onslaught of anti-Semitic hate speech,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “It shows how quickly hate speech can multiply and come to light on social media platforms, and reminds us of how much work we need to do to combat hate.”