GOP Lawmaker Slams Golfers on Saudi-backed Tour for 'Selling Themselves for Shekels'

The use of the term 'shekel,' the currency of ancient and modern Israel, refers to treachery and has long been a vehicle of the far right and an antisemitic dog whistle, monitor groups say

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) addresses members of the media during a congressional delegation visit to the southern border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, in April.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) addresses members of the media during a congressional delegation visit to the southern border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, in April.Credit: KAYLEE GREENLEE BEAL/ REUTERS
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – A Republican lawmaker slammed golfers on a new Saudi-backed professional tour as "selling themselves out for their 30 shekels" in an interview on Thursday. Groups that monitor antisemitism and racism have noted that the use of the term "shekel," the currency of ancient and modern Israel, to signal treachery has long been a vehicle of the far right and an antisemitic dog whistle.

Rep. Chip Roy made the comment to the conservative Washington Examiner website with regard to top PGA Tour stars who opted to join the Saudi-funded LIV Golf due to higher salaries and potential winnings. He said that those players are "basically whores and has-beens" willing to take millions in "blood money."

Roy contrasted golfers who joined LIV to Tiger Woods, who reportedly turned down nearly $1 billion to join. “At the end of the day, the guy's, like, loyal to the game while these guys are selling themselves out for their 30 shekels. I think it’s pathetic," the Texas lawmaker said.

Thirty shekels refers to the thirty pieces of silver which Judas Iscariot was paid for betraying Jesus in the New Testament. In modern times, the saying has been used to refer to traitors, often with religious connotations. More recently, talk of people earning "shekels" outside of the actual Israeli currency has been co-opted by the far right.

In 2018, Eric Trump was accused of antisemitism for saying journalist Bob Woodward earned "three extra shekels" for appearing on CNN to promote his book release. Pundits and experts from both parties have described such language as being directly lifted from far-right internet forums and message boards.

"Shekels — not just Israeli currency, but a derogatory term used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis to tie into antisemitic tropes about Jewish people and money," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in response to Trump's comments.

"The use of an ancient antisemitic trope connecting treachery with 'shekels' is appalling and cannot be taken lightly," ADL Senior Vice President for International Affairs Sharon Nazarian said last year concerning a story accusing Jewish businessmen for editing a story on prominent Jewish businessmen in exchange for a "few shekels."

Earlier this month, Roy equated gun control legislation to the Holocaust, saying "Jewish people in Germany were prohibited from owning arms, and 13 million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis." Roy also likened 2020 CDC measures encouraging people to say home due to COVID-19 to policies from Nazi Germany.

Roy also attracted criticism following the 2019 attack on a Chabad synagogue in Poway, California after he quote-tweeted a statement decrying antisemitism by then-Sen. Kamala Harris, and tagged the New York Times and Rep. Ilhan Omar.

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