The pro-Donald Trump right-wing polemicist who coined “renegade Jew,” the anti-Bill Kristol slur of the moment, is not your everyday Breitbart bloviator.
In successive posts Sunday and Monday, David Horowitz attacked Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol for his last-ditch efforts against Trump, tagging him a “renegade Jew” in his headline and claiming that his opposition to Trump “is a betrayal of the Jews.”
The rhetoric drew unusual mainstream opprobrium for a Breitbart post, including a scolding tweet from the Anti-Defamation League.
Mostly unnoticed in the blowback, however, was the piece’s byline. David Horowitz is one of the most consequential figures on the American Jewish far right. He sits at the helm of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an activist group with a $7 million annual budget that helps promote some of America’s loudest pro-Israel and anti-Muslim voices.
Here are seven things you should know about David Horowitz:
His David Horowitz Freedom Center employs Robert Spencer, who the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “one of America’s most prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists.” Also on the payroll is hawkish Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick. Horowitz’s group publishes the right-wing websites Frontpage Magazine (tagline: “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out) and Truthrevolt.
Like Bill Kristol’s father, Horowitz grew up on the far left before swinging hard to the right. A red diaper baby, he attended Berkeley in the 1960s, was an editor at Ramparts magazine and hung out with the Black Panthers. He says that his turn towards the right began with the murder of Ramparts staff member Betty van Patter, a killing many blame on the Panthers.
David Horowitz’s son Ben is the co-founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, one of the largest tech investment firms in the country. Andreeseen Horowitz now has $4 billion under management, and stakes in Twitter, Skype, and Oculus VR, among hundreds of other companies. Ben Horowitz founded the VC firm in 2009, after selling his software company to Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion in 2007.
In the early 2000s, David Horowitz was a columnist for Salon.com, which is hard to fathom.
In an interview posted this past May to one of the sites he publishes, David Horowitz called President Obama an “American traitor” who had “given nuclear weapons to the Hitlers of the Middle East, and thereby signed Israel’s death warrant.”
Horowitz’s memoir “Radical Son” received a friendly review in The New York Times in 1997. The reviewer called the book “warmly human and abrasive.”
Horowitz promoted something called “Islamofascism Awareness Week” in 2007, which sent Ann Coulter, Senator Rick Santorum, Christopher Hitchens and others to U.S. campuses. Left-wing Jewish groups launched protests of the event.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.