GOP senator runs blatantly antisemitic ad against his Jewish challenger
It’s the latest in a long line of antisemitic and racist dogwhistles by Republican campaigns.
A new campaign ad for Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) depicts his Democratic challenger, Al Gross, who is Jewish, leering and wielding wads of cash while standing behind a mountain of $100 bills.
In the background of the ad, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer looks on from the darkness with an approving grin.
Social media users were swift to condemn the ad as an ugly antisemitic trope dating back centuries.
Gross responded, tweeting: “This ad has disgusting antisemitic tropes but it’s what we should expect from a candidate who has hidden how his family does business with communist China and has voted time and again to benefit their bottom line. They should take the ad down.”
Others also called out the ad for its overt antisemitism, with Israeli politician Yair Lapid tweeting: “As Israel’s Leader of the Opposition and the son of a Holocaust survivor I have to express my anger at this antisemitic advert against the Jewish candidate for Senate in Alaska, Dr. Al Gross. It is a disgrace and a stain on the American democracy we all admire so much.”
The Anti-Defamation League spoke up in opposition to the ad as well: “It is offensive to play into #antisemitic stereotypes when attacking a Jewish political opponent,” it tweeted from its official account. “These types of accusations have been used to denigrate Jews for decades and have no place in our political discourse.”
Alaska State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, who is Jewish, told Alaska Public Media: “I have to assume Dan Sullivan didn’t see this. And when he sees it, he’s going to take it down and make a statement that he disavows antisemitism.”
Kiehl added that when a candidate makes use of offensive tropes portraying Jews with secret power and wads of money, “you’re really sending a specific message that’s as old as hatred and has been aimed specifically at Jews.”
Matt Shuckerow, Sullivan’s campaign manager, said in a statement to the Anchorage Daily News that the ad, which he said was done in house, was not about religion: “This ad had nothing to do with race or religion, but focused on the tens of millions of dollars that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Super PACS have funneled into this race to attack Dan Sullivan and aid Al Gross.”
“Any suggestion that the senator or his campaign is antisemitic is just plain wrong,” Shuckerow said.
But this is just the latest antisemitic campaign ad released by a GOP candidate leading into the 2020 election.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America recently released ads condemning Michigan Senate candidate John James as antisemitic.
The Democratic super PAC pointed to a 2018 James campaign ad briefly depicting a swastika hanging from the wall in a school hallway, which James later claimed was an innocent mistake.
The JDCA also noted antisemitic remarks James had made in the past about how both major political parties “genuflect” to the Jewish community.
In September, Donald Trump’s campaign ran an ad depicting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a puppet being controlled behind the scenes by puppet master Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).
“Puppet master” imagery was commonly used in Nazi propaganda leading up to and during World War II.
One 1941 anti-Jewish poster portraying a Jewish puppeteer making Stalin and Churchill marionettes dance is now housed at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A German cartoon from 1942 shows a Jewish puppet master manipulating Roosevelt and Churchill puppets.
Georgia Sen. David Perdue also came under fire for antisemitic campaign ads back in July, when he admitted to running an ad that used photo-editing to elongate and enlarge the nose of his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish. Perdue claimed it was an error by an outside vendor.
While it doesn’t seem the GOP will stop its smear campaigns against Jewish Americans anytime soon, the Biden campaign has strongly denounced the present administration’s use of antisemitic tropes.
Back in September, after the Washington Post reported that “Trump has muttered that Jews ‘are only in it for themselves’ and ‘stick together'” after a phone call with Jewish lawmakers, Biden’s Jewish engagement director Aaron Keyak criticized the Trump campaign’s frequent “use of antisemitic tropes.”
“This should serve as a wake up call to the relatively few Jewish Americans who still insist on standing with and promoting the current occupant of the White House. Our community must stick together to do everything we can defeat Trump in November,” Keyak said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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