An ad by the Jewish Democratic Council of America comparing President Trump’s America to 1930s Nazi Germany has sparked outrage — and support — from antisemitism watchdog czars.
The split-screen 30-second ad released Tuesday features side-by-side footage and images of Nazi Germany rallies in the 1930s and Trump rallies, including neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, as well as images from the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue attack in which 11 Jews were killed. A defaced, present-day synagogue features alongside photos of graffitied Jewish shops in the ’30s.
Entitled “Hate doesn’t stop itself, it must be stopped,” the ad blames Trump for the rise of far-right antisemitism.
A somber narrator opens the clip by saying, “History shows us what happens when leaders use hatred and nationalism to divide their people.”
“As antisemitism and white nationalism rise to dangerous levels in America, we are all less secure. It’s time to show that we’ve learned from the darkest moments in history. Hate doesn’t stop itself. It must be stopped. Vote — our future depends on it,” the narrator continues.
The ad intends to target Jewish voters in swing states including Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to the JDCA.
It comes days after Joe Biden said Trump is “sort of like Goebbels,” comparing the American president to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
The Anti-Defamation League, which routinely condemns Trump over allegations of stoking antisemitism, issued a sharp rebuke of the ad.
“This has no place in the presidential race and is deeply offensive to the memories of 6M+ Jews systematically exterminated during the Shoah,” tweeted ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust. “[T]he hate [and] extremism in this race is alarming and should be repudiated unambiguously. Elected leaders who engage in lying, scapegoating, and routinely call for violence should be condemned, full stop. At the same time, we urge leaders & their surrogates to refrain from invoking the #Holocaust in the context of the current election. It is not the same. Stay focused on the issues.”
The video from @USJewishDems is the latest in growing references to Hitler, Goebbels or other Nazi leaders. This has no place in the presidential race and is deeply offensive to the memories of 6M+ Jews systematically exterminated during the Shoah. https://t.co/pvO89COrI6
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 29, 2020
However, Greenblatt’s predecessor, Holocaust survivor Abraham Foxman, said the comparisons were valid.
“Germany did have institutions and they did have democracy and it did fall apart so, yeah, it’s not Germany, and it’s not Nazism, but our antennas are quivering,” Foxman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“There is serious hate out there which is reminiscent of the hate that we lived through, part of our history,” he said. “Jewish antennas quiver — it doesn’t have to be Nazism to worry us that hate is out there, and hate is not being challenged.”
The American Jewish Committee and Simon Wiesenthal Center called for the removal of the ad.
A Trump campaign spokesperson released a statement in response to the ad. It read:
President Trump is the greatest ally the State of Israel has ever had in the White House. As Democrats increase their false attacks against the President, Jewish Americans can see the truth for themselves through the President’s actions to fight against anti-Semitism, sign the historic Abraham Accords doing what no other President was able to do and bring peace to the Middle East, recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and tear up the disastrous Iran nuclear deal from the Obama-Biden administration.
JDCA’s executive director, Halie Soifer, said Trump’s “Proud Boys moment” proved the ad’s message.“Trump just refused to condemn white nationalism,” she said on Twitter, alongside the ad and continued by misquoting Trump, “He called on Proud Boys and others featured in this ad to ‘stand-up and stand-by’.”
Trump said “Stand back and stand by.”
Following blowback, Trump later told clarified and said, “Stand down.”
“I don’t know who Proud Boys are. But whoever they are they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work,” he said.
Soifer told the JTA, “The president’s blatant refusal to condemn white supremacists — which has clearly incited the Proud Boys — underscores the importance of our message,” she said. “I hope those who are concerned by the president’s words last night understand that the urgent warning in our ad — that hate does not stop itself, it must be stopped — is both accurate and timely.”
“We’re not calling Donald Trump a Nazi,” she said. “We are warning against the ominous parallel of the rise of Nazism and the use of hatred for political purposes and the numerous signs that Donald Trump is doing the same.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition blasted the ad, and also called on Biden to apologize for his Goebbels comment.
“The rule in debate is that if your only argument is to call your opponent a Nazi, you have no argument at all,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement.
The Zionist Organization of America’s president, Morton Klein, said the Jewish Democratic Council’s ad was “disgraceful.”