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Steven Richard Sheffey's

Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update

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October 30, 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • The parallels between the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany and the fascism of today's Republican Party are undeniable, including the attack on Paul Pelosi--political violence and intimidation is a hallmark of fascism. 

  • If you wonder why Germans voted for fascists in the 1930s, ask your right-wing friends why they are voting for Republicans in the 2020s.

  • The Republican Party is infected with antisemitism, from Donald Trump to GOP leadership to the candidates the GOP has fielded for major offices in next month's election.

  • Pretending "both sides" have an antisemitism problem or that this is not a partisan issue is irresponsible. Democrats marginalize and condemn antisemitism in the rare instances it occurs within their ranks. Antisemitism is rampant in the GOP and is not condemned from within the GOP.

  • Four years after the Tree of Life massacre, the deadliest antisemitic act in America's history, we cannot ignore the Republican Party's antisemitic rhetoric. 

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Hi Steve,

The differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have never been more stark, which means we cannot separate the person from the party. Party affiliation is a choice, not something anyone is born with. Any candidate who chooses to affiliate with the Republican Party is promoting an agenda antithetical to our values. 

President Biden was right when he called out MAGA Republicans for fascism. One hallmark of fascism is violence and calls for violence against political opponents. Brian Klass notes that this week alone, "three men were convicted of trying to kidnap Gov. Whitmer, a man pleaded guilty to threatening Rep. Eric Swalwell, a right wing conspiracy theorist tried to murder Speaker Pelosi, shortly after Bannon, who called to behead Fauci, was sentenced to prison. This isn’t random...This isn’t remotely a both sides thing."

If you think it is a both sides thing, if you confuse Democrats who are the exception with Republicans who are the rule, then you owe it to yourself to read this thread from Rex Huppke. Heather Cox Richardson explains that "whipping up supporters against a perceived enemy to create a statistical probability of an attack without advocating a specific event is known as 'stochastic terrorism.'” That's what Republicans are guilty of and it is not happening on the other side of aisle.

I don't usually send you to Fox News, but if you want a sample of the swill half the country is swallowing, watch this short clip. Then watch and share this 30-second ad from the Jewish Democratic Council of America, which draws undeniable parallels between the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany and the rise of MAGA Republican fascism in America today. If you wonder what you would have done back then, it's what you are doing now. If you wonder why Germans voted for fascists in the 1930s, ask your right-wing friends why they are voting for Republicans in the 2020s. Not convinced? Read this Newsweek oped from JDCA CEO Halie Soifer.

No one is arguing that Republicans are planning genocide, but if every comparison to the rise of fascism in Germany is inappropriate, then “never again” means nothing because by definition it can never happen again. Can we make these comparisons only if the candidate in question has a Charlie Chaplin mustache and speaks German?

We insult the memory of those who perished if we do not apply the lessons of the past to the challenges we face today. Republican rallies increasingly resemble Nazi rallies. Major Republican politicians unapologetically feature prominent antisemites and work with them.  If you don’t think the GOP is a fascist cult, watch this (the music is from the rally, not added).

Nothing is more frightening than the possibility that on November 8, Americans might vote yes to antisemitism, racism, fascismbanning abortion, keeping assault weapons legal, cutting aid to Ukraine, cutting Medicare, and cutting social security. In other words, voting Republican.

The leader of the GOP, the man it twice nominated for president and who leads the polls for its 2024 nomination, Donald Trump, has a long history of antisemitism. Yet not one Republican in Congress, running for Congress, or running for statewide office has ever condemned Trump for any of his antisemitic remarks.

Jacques Berlinerblau explains that "Trump is making subtle innovations in antisemitic rhetoric, all the while deploying time-tested, old school, anti-Jewish tropes" by using classic antisemitism to distinguish "good" Jews from "bad" Jews. Spoiler Alert: The vast majority of Jewish Americans fall into his bad Jews category. Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano's campaign applies similar standards for Jews.

The Republican Party is infected with antisemitism. It's not just Trump, although that's a big "just." The #1 House Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is an election-denier who tweeted the day before the Tree of Life synagogue massacre that three Jews, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and of course George Soros, were trying to buy the 2018 election. McCarthy will be Speaker of the House if Republicans win enough seats on November 8.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to directly condemn Replacement Theory when recently asked to do so. Adam Serwer explains how this racist, antisemitic theory, embraced by GOP Senate candidates Blake Masters (AZ), Eric Schmitt (MO), and JD Vance (OH), has entered the Republican mainstream. McConnell will be Senate Majority Leader if Republicans win enough seats on November 8.

The #2 House Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), is an election-denier who blamed “radical, Soros-backed elements of the Democratic Party” for violence against Republicans in 2018 and described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.”

The #3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), is an election-denier who supports Replacement Theory, the same racist, antisemitic conspiracy theory that the shooter who killed ten Black Americans in Buffalo believed in. Former South Park writer Toby Morton created a version of Stefanik's website that is more accurate than hers.

You will not find antisemitism among Democratic leadership in the White House, the Senate, and the House. You don't see Republicans running ads like this because they know their base too well. Instead, you see Republicans like Florida's Ron DeSantis, refusing to call out, and sometimes engaging in, antisemitism.

If you are speaking out against Kanye West's antisemitism and the complicity of those who support or take no action against him but you are not speaking out against Donald Trump and the complicity of those who support or take no action against him--which includes almost the entire Republican Party--then you are missing the point and ignoring the most significant antisemitic threat we face: Government sponsored or condoned antisemitism. 

Democrats condemn and marginalize antisemitism within their ranks. Republicans reward antisemitic rhetoric with leadership positions. Insider recently asked dozens of Republican leaders about their silence on GOP antisemitism. Their response? More silence. 

The Tree of Life massacre was four years ago last Thursday. The Washington Post reminds us that "the Tree of Life massacre came just before the 2018 midterm elections and that the suspect had posted on the far-right social media site Gab that he was angry about 'filthy' Jews who work to resettle refugees, especially Muslims." As President Biden noted, this was the "deadliest act of antisemitism in American history." Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters have ties to Gab. The man who attacked Paul Pelosi subscribed to antisemitic conspiracy theories common within the Republican Party.

The guards at our synagogues are not there to protect us from BDS supporters at Berkeley or to ensure no one smuggles Ben & Jerry’s ice cream into shul. They are there to protect us from Tree of Life copycat shooters, the man who attacked Pelosi, and other violent right-wing extremists that the GOP is emboldening. Yet some of our communal institutions play the “both sides” false equivalency game, driven by an almost pathological need to be seen as “nonpartisan.” Pretending both sides pose the same threat level is partisanship at its worse because by falsely asserting that "both sides" have a problem it gives an undeserved pass to the side with the worse problem.

Each side should call out its own side, but only the Democratic Party--where antisemitism is unusual--does it. Better yet, if we want unity, let's unite around attacking the most dangerous and powerful antisemitic threats no matter which side they come from, which by any objective standard today emanate from the Republican Party.

We cannot afford to be silent. Speak up, vote, and encourage your friends to vote. It not only can happen here, it is happening here--but we can stop it if we vote our values, which in this election means voting Democratic. If that strikes you as partisan, congratulations: You understand that this is an election, and elections are partisan by definition. The only question is which side of the partisan divide--Democratic or Republican--you will choose. Elections are not nuanced. It's one or the other.

I'm voting for democracy and for abortion rights. I'm voting against assault weapons and antisemitism. In other words, I'm voting Democratic--and I'm asking my friends to join me. How about you, Steve?

Last Week's Newsletter.

ICYMI. It's good to be a Republican antisemite and from Jonathan Jacoby, The mistake in equating right-wing and left-wing antisemitism.

Good News of the Week. Israel and Lebanon finalized their agreement, facilitated by the United States, to establish a permanent maritime boundary.

Tweets of the Week. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Amy Spitalnick, and Sacha Haworth.

Twitter Threads of the Week. Michael Harriot--read the whole thread to see not only that democracy has been on the ballot before but which voting bloc has always voted against democracy. And Dov Waxman on the dangers of drawing false symmetries between antisemitism on the right and antisemitism on the left, between neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Zionists.

Facebook Post of the Week. Larry David.

Video Clips of the Week. Amy Schumer and Ariel Elias

This is the newsletter even Republicans have to read and the home of the viral Top Ten Signs You Might be at a Republican Seder (yes, I wrote it).

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The Fine Print: This newsletter usually drops on Sunday mornings. Unless stated otherwise, the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of any candidates or organizations I support or am associated with. I value intellectual honesty over intellectual consistency, and every sentence should be read as if it began with the words "This is what I think today is most likely to be correct and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but..." Read views opposed to mine and make up your own mind. A link to an article doesn't mean I agree with everything its author has ever said or even that I agree with everything in the article; it means that the article supports or elaborates on the point I was making. I read and encourage replies to my newsletters but I don't always have the time to acknowledge them or engage in one-on-one discussion. I'm happy to read anything, but please don't expect me to watch videos of any length--send me a transcript if it's that important. Don't expect a reply if your message is uncivil or if it's clear from your message that you only read the bullet points. 

Dedicated to Ariel Sheffey, Ayelet Sheffey, and Orli Sheffey z''l. Copyright 2022 Steve Sheffey. All rights reserved.