Published originally in The Guardian.
After a wave of antisemitic comments as the 8 November midterm elections loom, Jewish politicians and leaders are calling on Republican candidates to condemn such remarks made, in many cases, by high-profile supporters and associates.
A recent example centered on Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who faced criticism for not condemning support he received from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
The artist posted a picture of Walker on Instagram last week, with the caption: “PRO LIFE”. Ye has made a number of antisemitic comments in recent weeks, prompting several business and fashion associates to cut ties.
The Pennsylvania US Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz received criticism for campaigning alongside the state’s Republican candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, who has been accused of making antisemitic remarks specifically aimed at his opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro, the New York Timesreported.
Mastriano has also been criticized for his associations with the far right, including $5,000 his campaign paid to a social media website where a mass shooter posted antisemitic rants, the Post first reported.
The former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate on a major presidential party ticket, in 2000, told the Post that though he believed most Americans do not accept such bigotry, political leaders should publicly reject it.
“If the leaders are not explicit and right out front against it, it can grow,” said Lieberman, Al Gore’s running mate, adding that Walker should decline Ye’s support.
Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, warned the Post about the normalization of bigotry in the US, especially in politics: “We are in a particular time in our country where bigotry like antisemitism is being normalized, where people can make statements and there are no real repercussions in the political sphere.”
The American Jewish Congress association president, Jack Rosen, called recent antisemitic comments “disturbing to all of us”, adding to the Post that “on the right … we don’t see the kind of leadership it’s going to take to stop the growth of this kind of antisemitic hatred”.
Neither Walker or Oz have commented on support they have earned from those accused of bigotry, but their Democratic opponents have been quick to point out the endorsements.
The campaign of the US senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent opposing Walker, pointed out Walker and Ye’s connection in a recent newsletter, which said Walker “should tell Georgians: does he accept Kanye West’s endorsement despite his divisive, racist and antisemitic comments?”
(Photo by Erik S Lesser/EPA)