Many observers have expressed concern about the rise of anti-Semitism in America and the lack of a timely, consistent and strong denunciation from President Donald Trump’s administration. Too often, we’ve been surprised by rhetoric and events bubbling up from the sewers of hate as well as the heartbreakingly weak responses from this White House. In part, I think that’s because we’ve spent too much time speculating on President Trump’s personal views and paid too little attention to the connections to anti-Semitism amongst his staff.
There are appointees throughout the administration who have disturbing links to anti-Semitic figures or organizations. The recently fired Steve Bannon and his protégé Sebastian Gorka are the best known, but the anti-Semitism in the administration hasn’t been eliminated with the departure of the two Breitbart-affiliated aides. Anti-Semitic ties are more standard than exceptional in this administration. I’d like to draw your attention to six lesser-known administration officials who, by flying under the radar, have assumed critical administration posts despite troubling links to anti-Semitism.
Domenech serves as the White House senior advisor in the Department of the Interior and is President Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Insular Affairs. Domenech has associated himself with Larry Pratt—including speaking and posing in a picture with Pratt at a press conference for Pratt’s organization Gun Owners of America. Pratt had previously garnered wide media coverage after being forced to resign as Pat Buchanan’s campaign co-chair due to his remarks and attendance at anti-Semitic events.
Feere serves as the advisor to the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security. Feere provided quotes to anti-Semitic writer Keith Johnson for the anti-Semitic newspaper American Free Press. Feere did so despite the fact that Feere’s employer (the Center for Immigration Studies) had previously been criticized for an association with the same newspaper. The American Free Press was founded by the notorious anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Willis Carto.
Kirchner serves as the citizenship and immigration services ombudsman in the Department of Homeland Security. Kirchner served as the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) from October 2005 to August 2015. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, wrote to a major funder to encourage her to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor to give her a “new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews. Tanton remains a member of FAIR’s National Board of Advisors.
Manning leads the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs as deputy assistant secretary. In 2003, Manning edited a collection of essays that included contributions from several individuals with connections to anti-Semitism, including Joseph Sobran. Sobran’s anti-Semitism ultimately led to his dismissal from the National Review in the early 1990s. In April 2002, he wrote that “The 9/11 attacks would never have occurred except for the U.S. Government’s Middle East policies, which are pretty much dictated by the Jewish-Zionist powers that be in the United States.” In June 2002, he addressed the Institute for Historical Review (which has a long history of engaging in Holocaust Denial) conference in Irvine, CA and lavishly praised its leader, Mark Weber.
Commenting on the speech, Deborah Lipstadt, the prominent Holocaust historian, wrote, “Mr. Sobran called deniers ‘courageous’ and their opponents ‘raving, hate-filled fanatics.’” In January 2003, Manning launched her book with an event at the Catholic Information Center, at which Sobran was a featured speaker. Manning’s introduction of Sobran included the following glowing praise: “He has been called the ‘finest columnist of his generation’ as well as ‘a national treasure.’ I wholeheartedly agree with both statements.”
Royce serves as the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Royce’s career is inextricably linked to the anti-Semitic American Family Association (AFA). The AFA has been a key backer of several of her employers and projects, and Royce is personally close to AFA founder Don Wildmon. The ADL has asserted that Wildmon “engaged in anti-Semitism” — blaming the Jews for TV programs and films he found objectionable.
Additionally, Sandy Rios, the AFA’s government affairs director, said that there are “powerful Jewish forces” behind the ACLU and has said that atheist Jews are some of the “worst enemies” of America. Lastly, the AFA published a guide stating that Jews “do not worship the same God” as Christians and offers advice on how to convert them.
Yoest serves as the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, Public Affairs. Yoest appeared on the radio show of Albert Mohler, a figure who has been condemned for anti-Semitic comments by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and even Trump and Bannon-aligned Rabbi Shmuly Boteach.
As described by the Baptist Press, Mohler has argued that not evangelizing to the Jews would be like a doctor not telling a patient they have a deadly tumor. Mohler also argued on MSNBC, that a Nazi who accepts Christ can be saved, but a Jew murdered by that Nazi who does not accept Christ cannot be saved. Despite this, Yoest has described Mohler as “a friend” and “someone that I have always respected” during a later appearance on CNN.
These six less-known members are just some of the administration officials with troubling connections to anti-Semitic individuals. Their continued presence in the Trump administration sends the message that anti-Semitism is no longer a disqualifier for public service.
We must not allow bigotry against Jews back into the mainstream of American life. Time is running out for President Trump to act. He can either clean house and take a clear stand or become the president who made America Hate Again.