On Sunday, Breitbart News posted an article by conservative thinker David Horowitz. The headline: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew Prepares Third Party Effort To Block Trump’s Path To White House.”
This is surprising coming from Horowitz.
It’s unsurprising coming from Breitbart News.
I am a former employee of both Breitbart News and David Horowitz. I left Breitbart under rather public circumstances thanks to their overweening allegiance to Donald Trump, which led to them treating decent people like trash. I founded the website TruthRevolt under the auspices of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and I consider David both a mentor and a friend.
But this article is garbage.
First, the preliminaries. I am an Orthodox Jew. I have worn a yarmulke essentially every waking minute of my life since I was 11 years old. I was married in Israel. My wife is Israeli-American. On Saturday, we held a brit milah for my newborn son (after whose birth, Trump supporters, including Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, spammed me with viciously racist or anti-Semitic material). I’ve spent my career fighting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement; I’ve been a leading critic of the anti-Jewish Obama administration and indeed, of the anti-Israel nastiness of Hillary Clinton. And I haven’t been shy about calling out Jews who have stood with anti-Israel tripe; I’ve stated in the past that Jews who voted for Barack Obama based on allegiance to leftism above the safety and security of the State of Israel are “Jews In Name Only.”
I do not back Donald Trump, and I will not unless he changes dramatically as both a human being and a politician. I feel no moral compulsion as a Jew to back a man who has said in open debate that he would not take moral sides between Israel and the Palestinians (“let me be a sort of neutral guy”); who feigns ignorance of the moral evil of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Semite David Duke; who refuses to rip up the Iran nuclear deal on day one and whose isolationism benefits Iran; who flirts on Twitter with the anti-Semitic, Hitler-celebrating alt-right; who refused to denounce anti-Semitic death threats against a reporter he didn’t like; who refuses to stand by religious freedom legislation that would protect Jews and Christians alike; who has treated women like garbage, lied non-stop, shifted his positions endlessly, and insulted the disabled and POWs.
Hillary is a terror for Israel and Jews. Trump is awful, too – and unlike Hillary, he’s carving out the heart of the truly pro-Israel party in the name of isolationist Pat Buchananism (another true friend of the Jews, there).
But according to David Horowitz, you’re a “renegade Jew” if you don’t back Trump.
Horowitz’s whole article is a specious, dishonest defense of Trump on every score, from his conspiracy-mongering about Ted Cruz’s father killing JFK (“what we have here, obviously, is not a theory, but some Trumpian campaign mischief”) to his attempts to downplay Mike Tyson’s rape conviction (“Mike Tyson had a dramatic change of heart following his release from prison”), from his pandering to dictator Vladimir Putin (“Attempting a serious re-set – a re-set from strength – would seem reasonable and prudent”) to his incoherent Middle Eastern policy (Trump’s policy, writes Horowitz, would only be “described as a ‘national retreat’ by a very unprincipled – and careless – individual”).
All of that pales in comparison with Horowitz’s last paragraph, celebrated in glowing orange font by Breitbart's headline:
I am a Jew who has never been to Israel and has never been a Zionist in the sense of believing that Jews can rid themselves of Jew hatred by having their own nation state. But half of world Jewry now lives in Israel, and the enemies whom Obama and Hillary have empowered — Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Hamas — have openly sworn to exterminate the Jews. I am also an American (and an American first), whose country is threatened with destruction by the same enemies. To weaken the only party that stands between the Jews and their annihilation, and between America and the forces intent on destroying her, is a political miscalculation so great and a betrayal so profound as to not be easily forgiven.
Not to get personal, but Horowitz does not speak from a position of strength here. He’s an avowed agnostic; he doesn’t observe Jewish ritual law in any way, or believe in any of the basic principles of Judaism. That doesn’t make him a bad person, of course, but it makes it rather ridiculous for him to sit atop the Pentateuchal high horse. And opposing Donald Trump for all the failures listed above doesn’t make you a “renegade Jew.” It actually makes you a “renegade Jew” to simultaneously reject all the fundamental principles of Judaism, then cite Judaism as a reason to embrace a candidate who rejects basic moral principles up to and including disassociating from anti-Semitism at home and abroad.
That said, David’s article isn’t anti-Semitic. It’s just wrong.
The same isn’t true for Breitbart.
I’ve made my thoughts on Breitbart clear before. But since my departure, they’ve become something far worse than Trump’s Pravda – they’ve become a cite that openly panders to alt-right anti-Semitism and soft white supremacism (as Milo assures us, “There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence”). This began in the pro-Trump comment section at Breitbart while I was there; now, it’s filtered up. It’s gotten so bad that even Jack Hunter, former paleoconservative, has written how the alt-right supported by Breitbart “turns you into a racist asshole”; he writes, “It’s a movement that is perpetually somewhere between race-obsessed and explicitly racist – with pride.”
Breitbart ran Hunter’s piece so its editorial team can claim that it’s an open forum – they don’t back the alt-right, they just give it a space to riot. That’s the same routine the Trump campaign does. Instead of rejecting racism and anti-Semitism, they pooh-pooh it, claiming that those who oppose such vile material are simply close-minded. In reality, they don’t oppose the anti-Semites or the racists. They’re more than happy to take their clicks (Breitbart) or their support (Trump) if it gets them where they want to go.
That’s how you end up with “RENEGADE JEW” running in giant letters on your front page in order to rip Jews who won’t support Donald Trump. David Horowitz throwing out the term “renegade Jew” to describe those Jews who oppose Trump on pro-Israel and conservative grounds is bad enough; Breitbart using such language in order to drive the septic-system segment of its base is worse.
None of this is totally unexpected. But all of it is deeply depressing to me personally. People I once admired, people with whom I was once friends, have clarified where they stand – and just as importantly, with whom they are willing to stand. And it’s ugly.