After Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) Executive Director Halie Soifer attacked Richard Grenell, President Trump’s recent choice to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, her comments were met with swift backlash, with Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein releasing a statement condemning her “absurd” remarks.
Soifer attacked the newly-appointed Grenell in a Tuesday tweet by describing him as unqualified, claiming he sought to “empower” far-right parties in Europe and has “emboldened actual neo-Nazis.”
Today, Trump appointed Richard Grenell to the Holocaust Memorial Council. As US Amb to Germany, Grenell sought to "empower" far-right parties & anti-establishment conservatives in Europe. Others have been unqualified, but he's emboldened actual neo-Nazis.https://t.co/ipqZzvZVzt
— Halie Soifer (@HalieSoifer) December 22, 2020
Earlier that day, President Trump announced his intention to appoint Grenell to a position on the Holocaust Memorial Council along with 42 other appointments, according to a White House statement.
In an exclusive statement, Klein noted the offense he took as a child of Holocaust survivors as well as the hypocrisy of Soifer who had defended antisemites in the past.
“As a child of holocaust survivors born in a displaced persons camp in Germany, who lost most of my family to Nazi horrors, I feel that the biased, absurd attack by JDCA’s Hallie Soifer on ardent Zionist Ric Grenell depicting him as promoting Nazis is worthy of shredding any credibility Soifer may have had,” the statement began.
“Shame on her,” Klein continued. “This is especially true in light of the fact that Soifer frighteningly defended Rev. Warnock, despite his embracing Jew-hater, Israel-basher Rev. Jeremiah Wright and followers of Louis Farrakhan, calling Israel an apartheid state, while shamefully and wrongly condemning Jews of murdering innocent Israelis and comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies to those of racist George Wallace.”
Noting his personal associations with Grenell, the ZOA head went on to assure that the recent appointment is far from anything described in Soifer’s comments.
“I’ve known Ric Grenell for years and my wife and I spent a week with him at his Ambassador’s residence in Berlin. I can assure you that Ric despises the Nazis, loves Israel and the Jewish people, and is devoted to human rights and tolerance,” the statement concludes.
Grenell, who was appointed on Tuesday, served as President Trump’s former ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence who later advised Trump’s reelection campaign from a post at the Republican National Committee.
Soifer, who has led the JDCA as its Executive Director since 2018 and now serves as the Chief Executive Officer, served as a national security advisor to Senator Kamala Harris (CA) from January 2017 until May 2018 as well as a senior policy advisor in the Obama administration.
During President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Soifer served as the campaign’s Florida Jewish Vote Director.
The ZOA — the nation’s oldest pro-Israel organization — was not alone in its condemnation of Soifer’s comments.
“Shame on @HalieSoifer for labeling every Republican Israel supporter as a Nazi,” wrote Jewish Voice publisher David Ben Hooren.
— David Ben Hooren (@DavidBenHooren) December 22, 2020
“No #US Ambassador posted to #Berlin in recent history has done more to combat anti-Semitism in #Germany, from neo-Nazis to Islamists linked to #Iran and #Hezbollah than @RichardGrenell,” wrote the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group dedicated to defending the safety of Jews worldwide.
“Shame on you,” wrote Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “This is ugly character assassination. @RichardGrenell has been an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and has done more to combat it in Europe than anyone else.”
.@HalieSoifer Shame on you. This is ugly character assassination. @RichardGrenell has been an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and has done more to combat it in Europe than anyone else. https://t.co/OxjtDDDwPc
— Matt Brooks (@mbrooksrjc) December 22, 2020
While Soifer accused Grenell of emboldening neo-Nazis, JDCA has been accused of supporting antisemites such as Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock, who they are strongly campaigning for.
Last week, the JDCA — which is aligned with the Democratic Party — was accused of trying to whitewash the “antisemitic” views of Warnock by circulating a petition claiming that he was the victim of “baseless claims and attacks.”
Last month, the Jewish Journal noted Warnock’s problematic positions on Israel — an emotive issue for many conservatives.
In 2019, Warnock signed a letter comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa, Jewish Insider reported.
Warnock is also listed as a delegation member on a Progressive National Baptist resolution that called on the United States to cease all military aid to Israel and urged Israel to stop building “illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and apartheid roads in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Fox News reported.
Stephen Lawson, communications director for incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler’s (R-Ga.) campaign, told Fox News that “Warnock has a history of anti-Israel positions, from embracing anti-Zionist Black Lives Matter and defending anti-Semitic comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to calling Israel an ‘oppressive regime’ for fighting back against terrorism.”
Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported that Warnock had previously defended Wright in 2008, saying “that we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the black church, which when preachers tell the truth, very often it makes people uncomfortable.”
Warnock defended Wright again in March.
JNS also highlighted how Wright said shortly after Barack Obama was elected that “them Jews” were preventing Obama from stating “anti-Israel” remarks.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.