The former head of the Anti-Defamation League railed against Donald Trump for asking the audience at a Saturday rally in Florida to raise their right hands and pledge support to him, calling it a “fascist gesture” that he said directly invoked Nazi salutes.
“As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America,” former ADL director Abe Foxman said in an interview with the Times of Israel published Monday.
Trump was widely criticized for asking the crowd at the Orlando rally to raise their right hands and repeat the statement: “I do solemnly swear that I—no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there’s hurricanes or whatever—will vote, on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for president.”
Reporters at the rally posted pictures of Trump supporters with their right arms stretched out in front of them on Twitter:
Donald Trump makes members of his Orlando crowd raise their right hands and swear to vote in the primary. pic.twitter.com/EVenRilJrV
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) March 5, 2016
“Don’t forget you all raised your hands,” the Republican frontrunner added. “You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”
Foxman, who was born in Poland in 1940, said watching Trump’s fans enthusiastically follow his orders made him “quiver.” He dismissed the possibility that Trump did not see a parallel between the gesture of allegiance he asked his supporters to do and Adolf Hitler’s request that his followers physically signal obedience at Nazi Party rallies in the 1930s and ’40s.
“It is a fascist gesture,” Foxman told the Times of Israel. “He is smart enough— he always tells us how smart he is—to know the images that this evokes. Instead of asking his audience to pledge allegiance to the United States of America, which in itself would be a little bizarre, he’s asking them to swear allegiance to him.”
The Anti-Defamation League works to combat anti-Semitism and hate crimes in the United States.