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How Republicans Echo Antisemitic Tropes Despite Declaring Support for Israel

U.S.How Republicans Echo Antisemitic Tropes Despite Declaring Support for Israel

The Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, traveled to Columbia University two weeks ago to decry the “virus of antisemitism” that he said pro-Palestinian protesters were spreading across the country. “They have chased down Jewish students. They have mocked them and reviled them,” he said to jeers from protesters. “They have shouted racial epithets. They have screamed at those who bear the Star of David.”

Former President Donald J. Trump chimed in. President Biden, he wrote on Truth Social, “HATES Israel and Hates the Jewish people.”

Amid the widening protests and the unease, if not fear, among many Jews, Republicans have sought to seize the political advantage by portraying themselves as the true protectors of Israel and Jews under assault from the progressive left.

While largely peaceful, the campus protests over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that has killed tens of thousands have been loud and disruptive and have at times taken on a sharpened edge. Jewish students have been shouted at to return to Poland, where Nazis killed three million Jews during the Holocaust. There are chants and signs in support of Hamas, whose attack on Israel sparked the current war. A leader of the Columbia protests declared in a video that “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”

Debate rages over the extent to which the protests on the political left constitute coded or even direct attacks on Jews. But far less attention has been paid to a trend on the right: For all of their rhetoric of the moment, increasingly through the Trump era many Republicans have helped inject into the mainstream thinly veiled anti-Jewish messages with deep historical roots.

The conspiracy theory taking on fresh currency is one that dates back hundreds of years and has perennially bubbled into view: that a shady cabal of wealthy Jews secretly controls events and institutions contrary to the national interest of whatever country it is operating in.

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