What Steve Bannon and Keith Ellison Have in Common

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed “The Anti-Semitic Awareness Act,” which endorses the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in investigating ethnic and religiously motivated crimes on campus.

The is as follows:

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Based on this definition both Keith Ellison, the Congressman running for head of the Democratic Party, and Steven Bannon, special advisor to President-elect Donald Trump, are anti-Semites.

Ellison’s past defense of and support for the identity politics of Farrakhan as well as his own call for the creation of an African American nation in the South of the U.S., his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (and not against any other nation) and his recently uncovered 2010 speech containing faint praise of Israel with stereotypic representations of Israel are important marks of Ellison’s anti-Semitism as well as his close connection to the same political ideology of Stephen Bannon.

Bannon, for all his vaunted support for Zionism and the State of Israel, is also an anti-Semite under the State Department definition. Both he and Breitbart have aided, abetted, and supported the views of others who are clearly advocating harm to Jews. Bannon has empowered the alt-right and has normalized and enabled hate speech against a host of minority groups including Jews. As an enabler of hate, Bannon clearly fits into the State Department’s definition. But there is more to understand about Bannon’s own ideas about economic identity politics and his support for identity politics in general. Many in the alt-right support Zionism and Israel because they believe that Jews should be forced out of the U.S. and sent to Israel just as they support Farrakhan’s ideas for the creation of an all African American place in the U.S. But if we view Bannon’s pro-Zionist support of Israel in terms of the alt-right identity politics, then his support of Zionism becomes more a sinister anti-Semitic manipulation. White identity political leaders like Richard Spencer call for the physical, intellectual and economic separation of whites from other ethnic groups. So their support for Farrakhan is not out of the ordinary—nor is their support for Zionism. In fact they are following in the footsteps of the Nazis who pioneered identity politics and whose first efforts were to force Jews to leave Europe until the anti-Semitism of Great Britain and the United States closed off any chance for Jewish emigration from Europe and set in place the final solution.

Bannon’s silence in the face of these egregious ideas and his concurrent offering the alt-right a platform for their makes him an anti-Semite.

Ellison has many progressive Jewish supporters; as does Bannon have many conservative Jewish supporters. The State Department definition will not make anyone on the left or the right happy. But it does provide us all with what has been needed in both the left and the right—a heavy dose of reality. The right has been critical of the Democratic Party for considering Ellison as party leader and the left has been critical of Trump and the Republicans for supporting Bannon. Yet both groups need to look at themselves. Their respective hypocrisy is mind boggling.

What we should fear in this post-election period is the main streaming and normalization of anti-Semitism into the fabric of our politics and our society and our educational system. Ellison and Bannon represent opposite sides of the same identity political coin. They represent the new anti-Semitism of the merging of the hate of the left and the hate of the right. If we do not as a Jewish community make a stand now it will not be long until those anti-Semites on the left and the right turn their full attention to us in the Jewish community.

Let us begin by helping Ellison and Bannon see what they really are as enablers and empowers of hate and help them see the errors of their ways and stop helping the enablers of hate whether on the left or the right.

This story "What Steve Bannon and Keith Ellison Have in Common" was written by Samuel M. Edelman.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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What Steve Bannon and Keith Ellison Have in Common

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