Fox Business host Stuart Varney seemed to get more than he bargained for when he prodded Trump campaign adviser Jeff Ballabon to criticize Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about Israel.
As a Jew, I am not offended by criticisms of Israel. I think Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deserves every bit of criticism thrown at him. I will say Rep. Omar’s recent comment on the subject makes me a tad nervous: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
As Haaretz notes, accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign country is an old anti-Semitic trope.
That said, calling Omar anti-Semitic “Filth” is way beyond the pale. Especially from a Trump campaign adviser. Yes, I know the Birther in Chief has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. I also know he and the Republicans have promoted and perpetuated far more blatant anti-Semitic smears:
After a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017, the president said that there were “very fine people” marching among the neo-Nazis shouting “Jews will not replace us.” He has deployed the pejorative term “globalist,” used as an anti-Jewish slur in far-right circles, to describe those who dissent from his nationalist worldview. He specifically applied it to one of his most prominent Jewish advisers, former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn. And his participation in the vilification of George Soros, a liberal financier and 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, signals how decisively the conspiracy theory, which smacks of anti-Jewish fearmongering given archetypical expression by “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” has moved from the far-right fringes to the mainstream of the GOP. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) is a believer in the Soros claims. So is Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R).
In a since-deleted tweet that was posted before the November midterm election, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), then-House majority leader, accused Soros, who had just been targeted by a homemade explosive, of seeking to “BUY this election!” Also in on the plot, he wrote, were former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, a California billionaire. The two men are Jewish and of Jewish heritage, respectively.
Of course, Varney didn’t question Ballabon on the anti-Semitic tropes among the GOP. Instead, he all but urged Ballabon to go after Omar who, in what I am sure is a 100% coincidence, happens to be Muslim. Noting that Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey had chided Omar for her remark, Varney asked Republican Ballabon, “ Is there room in the Democrat Party for Ilhan Omar and Jewish voters?”
Ballabon took the bait:
BALLABON: I don't think there's room in any reasonable setting for Ilhan Omar and normal people. In Ilhan Omar, the problem isn't, as Lowey says, that she's expressing herself poorly in a matter of debate. The problem is that her beliefs are deeply rooted in hatred and anti-Semitism. She is a hater. I'm going to say it, she is filth. She has no place in the Congress. She has no place on the Foreign Affairs Committee. It's outrageous that Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, the most powerful Democrat in America, appears on Rolling Stone, hand in hand with her smiling this week. It's outrageous.
Varney appeared taken aback. But rather than directly challenge Ballbon, Varney merely said, “Jeff, that is a very strong word that you just used.”
Ballabon doubled down and, as an anti-Muslim bonus, smeared Muslim Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison:
BALLABON: Yes. She is a filthy, disgusting hater. So what if she's in Congress? That's the problem. The problem is they have now taken anti-Semitism in its worst, most base, disgusting force, and they've mainstreamed it. And this started when they let Keith Ellison, who is known to be the Nation of Islam spokesman -- the Nation of Islam is not a normal Islamic group. It is an Islamist hateful group. It is a group founded by Louis Farrakhan, who is a profound hater of Jews, not just of Jews by the way, of many other people as well -- and they mainstreamed it by allowing him to be deputy chairman of their party. It's got to stop.
FACT CHECK: The Washington Post, when it gave Ellison four Pinocchios for claiming he had no relationship withFarrakhan since 2006, made it clear Ellison is no spokesman for the group.
To his credit, Varney did directly challenge Ballabon after that last remark. Varney questioned whether Ballabon was “comfortable” using such language as an adviser to the Trump campaign and pointed out that he doesn’t hear Jewish members of Congress using the same kind of “extreme” language Ballabon was. In response, Ballabon tripled down:
BALLABON: Absolutely correct. They're still playing politics and that's why people are beginning to say there's no room for Jews in the Democratic Party.
Listen, I'm using this [language] as a Jew, I'm using this as someone whose family directly feels threatened, but literally threatened, physically threatened in the culture that's being created now by the mainstreaming by the Democrats of these kinds of people.
Varney ended the discussion not long thereafter.
Watch the guy working for someone who thinks there are some “very fine” Nazis have a filthy meltdown below, from Fox Business’ March 4, 2019 Varney & Co., via Media Matters.
I have difficulty understanding how anyone descended from a people horribly abused for centuries could support a government that would treat another group with such sheer cruelty for so long as the Israeli right-wingers have done to Palestinians.