The Republican Jewish Coalition is defending Breitbart News chairman and newly-named chief White House strategist Steve Bannon from charges of anti-Semitism.
“I have been shocked and saddened to see the recent personal attacks on Steve,” RJC board member Bernie Marcus said in a Tuesday statement to Time. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) November 15, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump drew criticism on Monday by granting Bannon a senior role in his administration despite Breitbart’s prominent role in promoting the anti-Semitic alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League said that “he & his alt right are so hostile to core American values,” while the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out that Bannon’s appointment was met with cheers from white supremacist websites.
With the exception of the ADL and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, however, many major Jewish organizations have declined to comment on Bannon. The American Jewish Committee and American Israel Public Affairs Committee both told the Washington Post that Trump had the right to make his own staff picks.
The Zionist Organization of America and RJC went much further with their expressions of support. ZOA President Morton Klein said that a review of Breitbart’s articles “confirms Mr. Bannon’s and Breitbart’s friendship and fair-mindedness towards Israel and the Jewish people.”
The RJC’s Marcus also praised Bannon as a “passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel” who was being attacked by critics attempting to “undermine the incoming Trump administration.”
Upon joining the campaign in August, Bannon pushed Trump to embrace a message about a nebulous cabal of global elites working to personally enrich themselves. After the ADL condemned the campaign’s reliance on traditional anti-Semitic tropes, the RJC accused the nonprofit group of putting “their thumb on the scale” against Trump.
RJC executive director Matt Brooks hinted that the tax-exempt organization put itself in a “compromising position” for speaking out about the President-elect’s campaign.