WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) took aim at President Donald Trump Chief White House Strategist Stephen K. Bannon on Tuesday, falsely claiming that “white nationalist dog whistles” were being “blown by Steve Bannon in the West Wing.”
“Whether it is the delegitimization of Israel by the United Nations, the intimidation, and isolation promoted by BDS, or the white nationalist dog whistles blown by Steve Bannon in the West Wing, it is up to all of us to stand up, to stand together and speak out against antisemitism in all of its forms,” Menendez said at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Conference (AIPAC) Tuesday morning. “And that includes raising our voices together in rejecting antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia.”
Bannon, who previously served as Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, has denied the false claims spewed against him mostly by those on the left. “I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” Bannon told Michael Wolff of the Hollywood Reporter last November. He similarly told Kimberly A. Strassel of the Wall Street Journal: “I’ve never been a supporter of ethno-nationalism.”
In that same article, he made it clear that both he and Breitbart News had “zero tolerance” for “racial and anti-Semitic” elements that are found in the alt-right movement.
Menenedez, who was indicted by the Obama administration on corruption and bribery charges after he was critical of the Iran nuclear deal, delivered the above remarks while making at speech against the antisemitic boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement which targets the Jewish State Israel. At one point during his talk, he noted, “We must stand together to ensure that the letters BDS are seen for what they are: Bias Directed Solely at one people and one country by those who should know better.”
However, this is not the senator’s first time criticizing Bannon based off of misleading reports in the media. Following Bannon’s appointment to Trump’s team last November, Menendez said on Facebook that his constituents are upset and “frightened that someone who has promoted hateful, bigoted rhetoric and radical ideas through his website has been elevated to such a powerful role inside the White House. Hate has no place in our public discourse, let alone in the people’s house.”
Bannon, and several others in Trump’s administration — including the president — have also been falsely labeled as antisemitic. Last December, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote, “Tell me how a man who publicly fights BDS, fights Iran, and opens a bureau in Jerusalem to support Israel is a Jew-hater? Tell me how a man who appoints some of the proudest Jews I know – like Joel Pollak – to the most senior positions at Breitbart is an enemy of our people?”