News of white supremacist Stephen Bannon’s appointment to a top job in the next White House has been roiling much of the Jewish press and anti-hate groups, including the ADL. Israel’s most-read newspaper, ‘Israel Hayom,’ decided its readers don’t need to know.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis will have no idea that a bonafide anti-Semite is going to be the next U.S. president’s left-hand man. President-elect Donald Trump announced on Sunday he will be appointing Stephen K. Bannon, a white nationalist anti-Semite and one of the faces of the pro-Trump alt-right movement, as the new White House chief strategist. But you wouldn’t know any of that if you leafed through Israel Hayom, Israel’s most widely-read newspaper on Monday.
The Sheldon Adelson-funded, pro-Netanyahu, free daily newspaper published an article Monday [Hebrew] that mentioned Bannon’s appointment, yet omitted any and all mention of his sordid views on Jews, women, Latinos, and the LGBTQ community.
In the article, Israel Hayom‘s U.S. correspondent Yoni Hirsch dedicated exactly two sentences to Bannon’s appointment, writing that Trump chose Reince Priebus over him for chief of staff, and that as head of Trump’s presidential campaign, Bannon decided to aggressively take on Hillary. The rest of the article focuses on Priebus, who is considered a more moderate, establishment Republican, along with Trump’s stated plan to expel millions of immigrants, and speculation over the president-elect’s future advisors.
That’s it. Not one mention of the conspiracy theories peddled by Bannon, according to which Hillary Clinton’s aid Huma Abedin is a spy for Saudi Arabia or that Planned Parenthood has Nazi ties. Not a word on the fact that he reportedly did not want his twin daughters attending the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because many Jewish students were enrolled there, and Bannon believes that Jews are raised to be “whiny brats.” Nothing about the fact that he was charged with choking his ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard, or that he called feminist activists a “bunch of dykes.” The list goes on and on, yet Hirsch and his editors at Israel Hayom found no reason to mention any of it.
The paper’s outright refusal to pay the bare minimum lip-service to homegrown American anti-Semitism continued in a second article published Monday, also by Hirsch. Under the headline, “It’s time for Obama and Clinton to calm the protesters,” Hirsch reported on the wave of anti-Trump protests that have been sweeping the U.S. since his election. The article lists a number of demonstrations, which have been led by those fearful of Trump’s possible policies on immigrants, minorities, women, and LGBTQ rights, as well as health care and the environment.
Yet somehow Hirsch forgot to mention that many of the very people taking to the streets are the ones most vulnerable to the rising tide of hate crimes against minorities over the past week. Swastikas cropping up across the country, Nazi salutes, anti-black graffiti (a black church was burned down in Mississippi a week before the election, the words “Vote Trump” scrawled on the side of the building), threats of lynches, violent attacks against Muslims — the most widely-read newspaper in the Jewish state deemed none of it worth mentioning as catalyzing factors behind the protests.
A deal with the devil
The news of Bannon’s appointment roiled progressive media outlets and organizations, already beleaguered by an unprecedented rise in hate crimes and the prospect of future violence against minorities in the United States. Bannon, a former U.S. Navy officer, was best known for his polemical right-wing documentaries and for serving as the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a far-right news site, before being named chief executive of Donald Trump’s campaign this past August.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation, expressed concern over Bannon’s appointment. Meanwhile Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt said it was a “a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house’.”
On the face of it there should be absolutely no reason for any Jew to back such blatant bigotry. But the right-wing Jewish establishment in America — bolstered by the likes of Sheldon Adelson — has decided to accept a tradeoff in an era in which traditional Republican policies no longer hold much currency: incur anti-Semitic politicians and attacks in exchange for a president who will come down on Muslims, back reactionary policies on immigrants, and blindly support Israel. This is the same logic that undergirds the thinking of Israeli politicians who back far-right European politicians such as Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilder, and Heinz-Christian Strache: we will politely ignore their Nazi pasts, pesky anti-Semitic cartoons, and outright incitement — as long as they continue to back the Jewish state.
This is what a deal with the devil looks like.