Given the seismic events shaking up the American political scene, the resignation of a 28-year-old female journalist from Breitbart seems a trifling matter indeed. But in fact it throws into sharp relief why the rise of Donald Trump has Jewish conservatives in an uproar.
It is a tangled tale that began when Michelle Fields claimed she had been roughly manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager in the crowd around the front-runner during his campaign in Florida. The charge led to counter-accusations, then more accusations. Video and photographic evidence was ambiguous, to say the least, and it did not help when it was revealed that Fields has a history of workplace dramas or that she has a book out in June.
This is when things began to get really messy. The editor of Breitbart, Joel Pollack, held off fully accepting Fields claim, subjecting it to proper scrutiny. Then he seemed to walk it back, suggesting in a follow-up Breitbart article that Fields had misidentified the alleged assailant.
Apparently enraged by the editor’s unwillingness to lend full-throated support, this triggered a mass resignation, led by Fields, her main supporter Ben Shapiro, and three other members of staff.
So far, so complicated, but this is where it gets really interesting because, as it now emerges, l’affaire Fields was really just the spark that set off long simmering internal divisions over Breitbart‘s support of Trump.
And what everyone has been too coy to mention is that those who walked out are not only bitterly opposed to Breitbart’s support of Trump, they are also mainly Jewish. While Fields herself is not Jewish, most of the other movers in this affair are, including the Washington Post reporter who claims he witnessed the incident.
Of the five journalists who have resigned from Breitbart, at least three strongly identify as Jews and the fourth is probably Jewish. The fifth is Michelle Fields herself and she is of part Honduran descent. (Fields recently made the list of 9 Hot Jewish Republican Women. She then tweeted: “Very flattered, you guys. But I’m not Jewish.”)
A survey of the Twitter comments have made it clear that a simmering Jewish antipathy to Breitbart’s support to Donald Trump was the real reason behind the mass departure. Both Ben Shapiro and his father David, who wrote for the site under a pseudonym, and who has also resigned, are both Orthodox Jews and strong Israel supporters.
The two remaining resignations include the National Security correspondent Jordan Schachtel who, last year, removed the following tweet from his account: “With my German-Jewish heritage I will always remain a proponent for robust immigration.”
Schachtel’s resignation statement reveals the depths of his opposition to Trump.
“Some of us have been fighting behind the scenes against the party-line Trump propaganda for some time, but without any success, unfortunately.
Breitbart News is no longer a journalistic enterprise, but instead, in my opinion, something resembling an unaffiliated media Super PAC for the Trump campaign. I signed my contract to work as a journalist, not as a member of the Donald J. Trump for President media network. As recent events have proven, there is no longer a point in trying to reform the company from within, so I must step aside with my dignity intact.”
A brief review of Schachtel’s journalism reveals a heavy focus on themes of interest to Jews. Here he is writing about a German pro-Israel group that supports Pamela Geller. Here he is writing about Al-Queda for Germany’s main anti-Semitism blog Searchlight. Here he is writing for Breitbart about how PhD’s have been restored in Poland to Jews persecuted by the Germans.
The resignation statement of associate editor Jarrett Stepman too, revealed that it was antipathy to Breitbart‘s support of Trump that was behind the decision.
In my opinion we are working with or perhaps even taking direction from a presidential campaign, which is unacceptable journalistic behavior. I believe Breitbart News is becoming less of a news site and more of a propaganda organization dedicated to the Trump campaign.
Breitbart News has also now openly embraced the “Nationalist/Populist” viewpoint, which is in direct opposition to limited-government conservatism that channels the philosophy of the Founding Fathers. It is becoming impossible for conservatives like myself to continue working for the organization, which now relentlessly pushes a perspective directly at odds with my fundamental beliefs.
No confirmation on whether Jarrett Stepman is Jewish, though his fiance Inez Feltscher certainly seems to be and she has written of how her parents fled Soviet totalitarianism in Poland. Stepman has written articles such as this one attacking Palestinians for setting light to an Israeli flag.
The important figures on the periphery of this story are strongly identified Jews as well. One is the man who told Michelle Fields she had been manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager. He is Ben Terris, a Washington Post reporter.
Another prominent Jewish supporter of Michelle Fields is her boyfriend Jamie Weinstein who is a prime mover in affair because, as editor of the Daily Caller, he was one of the first to reveal the allegations. He then accused the Trump team of being thugs.
(Another departure was of Kurt Bardella who appears to be of East Asian descent. He was not a staffer but a PR consultant. Again he cited his personal opposition to Trump meant it had been a decision he had been mulling over for some time.)
These divisions expose some of the contradictions that lie at the heart of right-wing Jewish activism. For Jewish conservatives are happy to make all the right noises when they wage war on political correctness; against campus feminists and Muslims – especially in defence of Israel — but when a real uncompromising warrior comes along who wants to tear down the cultural Left, defend the family, Christianity, and borders, that’s a quite different kettle of fish — especially when that warrior refuses to take campaign donations from organized Jewish groups.
Rightly, these same Jewish conservatives think that there is no telling where this will end. Will this newly awakened White constituency look beyond the feminists and illegals to the real root of the problems that have brought the country down?
The indispensable Morgoth’s Review has mulled over all this and pointed out the strategems of the Jewish political right-wing:
In order to perpetuate [the narrative put forward by right-wing, Zionist Jews that the left and Islam are the source of America’s problems], it is necessary to allow Islam to be pilloried relentlessly, [and] we might also get some juicy articles about Black criminality which hint at race realism. In other words, the more Zionist leaning Jews on the Right have been throwing other protected groups under the bus for geopolitical gains and they have done this as being anti-Political Correctness, seemingly having forgotten why Political Correctness was invented.
But why be satisfied with the flabby gristle of feminism or the bloody pork chop of Islam when, in the distance, there’s a huge succulent rack of ribs called ”The Jewish Question” for the, newly awakened, dissident mind to grapple with? All it takes is a surge of confidence, or Donald Trump, and the masses begin to return to the source, and worst of all is that Jews such as Ben Shapiro can no longer count on the brain-inhibitor in the gentile mind to dissuade them because that would be “Politically Correct.”
The new stridency and confidence in the White constituency engendered by Trump has not gone unnoticed. As Shapiro himself has said at his own blog:
There is no question that a disquieting number of Trump supporters hate Jews as Jews. I have criticized President Obama in blunt fashion; I have defended Israel’s right to self-defense against the Palestinians consistently; I have bashed Ron Paul. I have never received the amount of anti-Semitic hate I currently do each day for the crime of criticizing The Great Trump. …
It’s not just me, of course. Jake Tapper of CNN now says he’s received anti-Semitic tweets “all day.” My friend Bethany Mandel, another orthodox Jew who opposes Trump, just bought herself a gun out of fear of unhinged Trump supporters. John Podhoretz of Commentary says he receives tweets consistently from “literally neo-Nazi White supremacists, all anonymous…I don’t think I can attribute being a supporter of Trump to being a validator or an expresser of these opinions, but something was let loose by him.” Noah Rothman of Commentary tweets, “It never ends. Blocking doesn’t help either. They have lists, on which I seem to find myself.”
This isn’t Trump’s fault. Politicians often have supporters they can’t stand and don’t control. But one thing is Trump’s fault: Trump has been reaching out to these supporters. They feel empowered by his rise not merely because they agree with his policies, but because of the language Trump uses and the people with whom he associates.
And that is what is really going on in the Breitbart affair — a yawning gulf between the two Jewish views on how to deal with Donald Trump. For the editor, Joel B Pollack, Trump is someone whom the Jews can work with and eventually control. For Ben Shapiro, Trump represents a huge danger to Jewish hegemony and must be stopped now. In other words the argument between Pollack and Shapiro revolves around the question that is as old as time itself, namely: Is it good for the Jews?
For Shapiro, Trump is guilty of this mysterious force known as “nationalist populism” which is surely the establishment version of “dog whistling” and means that the grassroots ordinary folks are getting too big for their breeches.
It would be fair to say that most of the organized Jewish conservative community takes the Shapiro line. Across the Jewish media the kvetching is endless. Here, in an example from Forward, Noam Neusner cuts straight to the chase:
Donald Trump, the most likely Republican candidate for president, has built within our party the nearest thing America has ever seen to a European nativist working class political movement. Such movements, to put it mildly, have never been good for the Jews or allies of free thought and the free market.
Jewish Republicans are not slow to make the usual comparisons with Hitler and Neo-Nazis. For non-Jews like Glenn Beck in National Review, for whom the only issues are his vision of the constitution and the size of government, this was a wonderful chance to show their loyalty.
Despite Trump’s conciliatory noises towards the Jews, he seems to have very little support among the Jewish conservative community. What is interesting is that no-one doubts that Trump will stand by Israel. Rather, it is his giving a voice to the White dispossessed that is causing concern. Of course, all this is heavily coded as this article makes clear.
Instead, Trump is seen as a threat to the vision of a bigger, more inclusive GOP, which many leading Republican Jews have advocated.
“In order for us to become a party [of anyone] other than white men, we need to be reaching out,” Norm Coleman, a former senator from Minnesota, told the Forward. Coleman, an RJC board member who is supporting Graham’s primary bid, said, “I think Trump’s language and perspective is a long-term negative in terms of building the party.”
In the same article others are willing to be more explicit.
“There are a lot of folks who are, to be charitable, into white identity politics, and to be uncharitable are outright racists, who are supporting Trump,” said Nathan Wurtzel, a Republican political consultant and principal at The Catalyst Group, who is Jewish. “It’s very off-putting and disturbing ….”
Trump has also drawn the backing of an enthusiastic contingent of white nationalists. “You’ll see it a lot on the Internet,” said Wurtzel, who is active on Twitter. In a New Yorker article published in late August, writer Evan Osnos quoted Richard Spencer, head of a white nationalist think tank, saying that Trump embodies “an unconscious vision that white people have — that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country.
Despite the thinness of Michelle Fields’ claims, the mainstream media is still backing her all the way provided she uses her new platform to bash the campaign of Donald Trump. But, given the thinness of her case, it may turn out that filing a police report on her “assault” may be her undoing.
In an incendiary article on his reactions to his former colleague, Breitbart editor Pollack was described as “Shapiro’s friend and fellow Orthodox Jew.” That post was soon deleted but nobody in the know would have missed that reference to the real ethnic contours of what was happening.