Jewish Republicans Excoriate Mitch McConnell, Josh Holmes, Senate Leadership Fund for Running Hillary Clinton Playbook Against Steve Bannon

Bannon, CPAC AP PhotoSusan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Washington, D.C.

Top Jewish conservatives are stepping forward to back up Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who was CEO of President Donald Trump’s successful general election campaign.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies at the Senate Leadership Fund and elsewhere devolve into using failed tactics employed in 2016 by Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) are hammering back at McConnell and his cronies. McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund has, just like Hillary Clinton did, falsely alleged that Bannon is anti-Semitic.

The Senate Leadership Fund, in a move that only hurts Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) even more than the pro-amnesty anti-Trump incumbent is hurting alread , on Thursday tweeted an attack against Bannon:

That came in response to an effort from insurgent anti-establishment pro-Trump Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, who pledged not to support McConnell for Majority Leader—and is calling on Heller to join him. Heller is refusing to answer the question, and has dodged it repeatedly—and as such new polling shows Heller under 40 percent, and Tarkanian with a healthy lead over Heller outside the survey’s margin of error. That is a horrendous position for an incumbent to be more than half a year ahead of a primary next summer.

In addition to the Senate Leadership Fund’s false attacks, McConnell’s ex-chief of staff Josh Holmes—one of the Senate Majority Leader’s closest allies—has made the attack multiple times in public as well.

In a comment to The Hill newspaper, Holmes falsely alleged Bannon is a “white supremacist.”

“In 2018 we ought to revisit this question and find out if these people are still happy to be associated with Bannon,” Holmes said. “When you’re facing voters, I’d take one of the most successful majority leaders in history over a white supremacist any day.”

Holmes has come under significant criticism for the false comments, and was forced to attempt to defend himself in an interview with the Washington Post:

Holmes defended his use of the term to describe Bannon in a recent interview. “If you look at his associations, the people who are ecstatic about his efforts, the long history of conduct that he has been a part of, I will let others come to their conclusions,” he said. “But this is not a guy that just burst on the scene. Let’s not act like everybody doesn’t know exactly who Steve Bannon is.”

Now, just like the failed McConnell-linked attacks against conservative Judge Roy Moore backfired in Alabama’s Senate primary, in which Moore trounced appointed establishment-backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) by nearly double digits, these McConnell-linked attacks are only pulling out a key plank of conservatives from under McConnell, threatening his grip on his leadership position atop the GOP conference in the Senate.

First, early on Friday, the RJC—a group that happens to be backing Heller for the Senate—came out and fired back at McConnell and Holmes and Senate Leadership Fund for the inaccurate attacks.

Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that, while his group does support Heller, McConnell and his cronies are wrong to make this false allegation against Bannon.

“We defended him [Bannon] aggressively when he faced these accusations from the left, and I’ll defend him when he faces these accusations from the right,” Brooks said, per the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news organization, adding: “Dean Heller is a perfect example where Bannon and the RJC are on different sides, but I will absolutely defend Bannon — he is not anti-Semitic.”

The effort only further threatens incumbents like Heller, though, as now later on Friday the ZOA—a group backed by pro-Israel GOP billionaire Sheldon Adelson—is hitting back against McConnell too and even harder.

In a lengthy statement posted Friday afternoon on ZOA’s website, the group’s president Mort Klein stepped forward and called the McConnell-aligned attacks against Bannon “rubbish.” Klein said in the statement:

As the leader of the oldest pro-Israel group in the United States and as a child of Holocaust survivors, who was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after losing most of my family to the evil anti-Semites of Nazi Germany, I am appalled by the reprehensible lies being promoted by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Josh Holmes, and the Senate Leadership Fund, about Steven Bannon’s attitude toward Israel and Jews. Their disgraceful name calling is rubbish.

Bannon is set to speak at ZOA’s annual dinner in New York City in November, alongside Alan Dershowitz, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and Adelson and his wife Miriam. Klein’s statement goes on:

ZOA does not invite anti-Semites to our events. Steve Bannon is the furthest thing from an anti-Semite, contrary to McConnell and Holmes’s shameful lies. Steve is a proud friend of the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel. I know and have worked closely with Steve Bannon. I am appalled by these shameful attempts to smear Bannon’s character and integrity by promoting false allegations about Bannon’s views on Jews and Israel. This is clearly being done because of policy differences between Senator McConnell and Bannon.

He then quotes Dershowitz, a liberal Harvard professor, who says it is not “legitimate” or accurate to make such accusations against Bannon.

“It’s not legitimate to call [Bannon] an anti-Semite because you disagree with his policies,” Dershowitz said, per Klein’s ZOA release. “The evidence suggests that Mr. Bannon has very good relationships with individual Jews and is supportive of Israel. I’ve seen no evidence of personal anti-Semitism on the part of Bannon.”

Klein also quotes Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, a major GOP donor, as saying the attacks against Bannon are a disgrace. “I have known Steve to be a passionate supporter of Israel,” the ZOA release quotes Marcus as saying, adding: “What is being done to Steve is a shonda [disgrace].”

The release from ZOA continues by quoting more people backing up Bannon:

The Anti-Defamation League acknowledged that it has found no written or verbal statements made by Bannon that were anti-Semitic.

Liberal columnist and former editor of the Forward, J.J. Goldberg, recently wrote about these charges against Bannon, “There’s no evidence. The evidence that’s tossed around doesn’t hold up. The more we cry anti-Semitism when it’s not real, the more likely we won’t believe when the danger is real.”

Vanity Fair reported that Bannon valiantly fought to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and refused to attend a meeting with Palestinian-Arab leader Mahmoud Abbas, a Jew-hating, Israel-hating terrorist. Bannon is quoted as saying, “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist.”

The release from ZOA concludes by again praising Bannon and saying the organization is proud to have him at the group’s annual dinner in New York City on Nov. 12. Klein said:

Steve has helped ZOA and our battles against anti-Semitism on college campuses and has invited me, a Jew and a Zionist, to be a regular columnist at his Breitbart News. Anti-Semites don’t provide Morton Klein with a platform. We are proud and fortunate to have Steve Bannon on our side fighting for Israel and against anti-Semitism. And we’re honored that he will be a speaker at ZOA’s 2017 Gala where he will be introducing Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, the greatest pro-Jewish Zionists on the face of the planet.

It remains to be seen if Holmes and Senate Leadership Fund and McConnell will withdraw their false attacks against Bannon, or if they will further infuriate Jewish Republicans including major GOP donors like Adelson and Marcus–and further jeopardize more incumbents like Heller.