Democratic presidential challenger Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is defending himself from claims of antisemitism after a New York Post reporter falsely claimed the candidate said COVID-19 was engineered to protect Jews.
The distorted remark was reported by Jonathan Levine of the New York Post, who claimed that “Kennedy floated the idea that coronavirus had been an “ethnically targeted” bioweapon — designed to spare Jews.”
However, video of Kennedy’s remarks — which Levine later posted on Twitter, again with a misleading headline — show that Kennedy never actually said that coronavirus had been “ethnically targeted” to spare Jews.
What Kennedy does say is he believes that several governments have developed the ability to target bioweapons at particular ethnicities. As evidence that this might be possible, he cites research that suggested some groups were more susceptible to COVID-19 than others — but he adds that he does not know if that was intentional.
In a tweet posted Saturday, Kennedy defended himself and cited an NIH study that documented the disparate impact of the virus. He also said he “never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews”:
Kennedy also accused Levine of violating an understanding that the event would be off the record.
Levine, who admits he was at the dinner, did not report asking any follow-up questions, nor did he walk out in protest.
He posted the video on the Jewish Sabbath — an odd gesture, given that observant Jews would have been offline.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach — whose organization, the World Values Network, announced last week that it would be hosting Kennedy for a July 25 speech titled “The Case for Israel” — defended Kennedy Saturday evening.
He spoke to Kennedy in an interview in which Kennedy clarified his remarks:
Boteach also marched with Kennedy last month in a parade celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary.
He also released a formal statement defending Kennedy:
I sharply disagree with my friend Bobby Kennedy on the Covid-19 vaccines and I am quintuple vaxed. But the suggestion by the media, or indeed Jewish organizations who do not know him, that because of his musings about bio-weapons that he is somehow antisemitic is a disgusting lie. Bobby’s father was murdered by Palestinian terrorist Sirhan Sirhan because of his strong support for Israel and Bobby recently marched with me against the demonization of the Jewish state at the giant “Israel Day” parade in New York City carrying an enormous Israeli flag. He has publicly called upon the Biden Administration not to give Iran billions of dollars in a second Iran deal that would ultimately result in an Iranian nuclear weapon. In our recent interview together Bobby called upon the Democratic Party to return to the strong, unconditional support of Israel that was the hallmark of the party under the leadership of his uncle,
President Kennedy, and Bobby directly criticized the antisemitism and double standards against Israel employed by Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Whatever disagreements anyone may have with him — and I personally have many, including on Ukraine — there is no question that my brother Bobby Kennedy is locked arm-in-arm with the Jewish community in the fifth against antisemitism and is a great champion of Israel.
Kennedy is experiencing the same treatment doled out to Donald Trump, who — as a candidate and as president — was constantly smeared by the media as an antisemite despite defending Jews and supporting Israel strongly.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.