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Pressure mounts on Trump after Putin’s recent anti-Semitic remarks

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Nov. 11, 2017. (Jorge Silva/Pool Photo via AP)

(RNS) — President Trump is facing rising indignation for his ongoing silence following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Jews were behind tampering with the 2016 U.S. election.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., tweeted on Saturday (March 10), “Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders. Why is Trump silent? Intolerance is intolerable.”

On Monday, Democratic leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives sent a letter to the White House demanding extradition for 13 Russian nationals indicted last month by White House special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into election tampering.

The calls for action came after a March 10 airing of an NBC interview with Putin in which he suggested Russians were being wrongly targeted by the investigation.

“Maybe they are not even Russians,” Putin said, “but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship or a green card. Maybe the U.S. paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement issued a day after Putin’s remarks, “It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'”

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is an early 20th-century propagandist document — originally published in a Russian newspaper — that describes a fictional secret international network of Jews who manipulate world events and finances.

The American Jewish Committee also referenced the protocols in its condemnation of Putin’s remarks.

“President Putin suggesting that Russian Federation minorities, be they Ukrainian, Tatar, or Jewish, were behind U.S. election meddling is eerily reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He should clarify his comments at the earliest opportunity,” the AJC tweeted.

Putin made his remarks two days after Trump came under criticism for calling departing National Economic Council head Gary Cohn a “globalist,” a term many consider a conservative dog whistle referring to powerful Jews. White supremacist David Duke has spoken of a “Jewish globalist agenda” and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has a history of using “globalist” in a way many Jews find offensive.

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

18 Comments

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  • The strategy of blaming some other group that is also contentious enough to shift the conversation and attention off the original issue seems to be used by all politicians. No wonder fake news flourishes in this kind of environment..

  • “Anti-Semitic”, my foot!

    So – going by Cambridge University Dictionary for “anti-Semitic” to mean “having or showing a strong dislike of Jewish people, or treating them in a cruel and unfair way” – Russian President Vladimir Putin must be anti-Semitic, then, for 2nd-guessing the 13 Russian nationals accused of interfering in the 2016 election as …

    (1) As being just 13 of “146 million Russians”?!

    (2) As being “not even Russians”?!

    (3) As being “Ukrainians … just with Russian citizenship … dual citizenship … a green card”?!

    (4) As being “Tatars … just with Russian citizenship … dual citizenship … a green card”?!

    (5) As being “Jews, just with Russian citizenship … dual citizenship … a green card”?!

    (6) As being any of those people above-mentioned that “the Americans … paid … for this work”?

    (Source: Alexander Smith “Putin on U.S. election interference: ‘I couldn’t care less’”, NBC News, March 10, 2018.)

  • If Putin is anti-Semitic, then he’s also anti-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, anti-Tartar, and anti-American. He didn’t single out the Jews, according to Alexander Smith “Putin on U.S. election interference: ‘I couldn’t care less’”, NBC News, March 10, 2018.

  • Didn’t mean to infer that – just a red herring tossed out that landed in the hands of Trump. Now Donald ends up on the hot seat for his response with attention diverted from official Russian government interference. Kinda of like switch and bait.

  • Anti-Semitism is a centuries-old staple in Eastern Europe. Putin’s comment reflects the idea that Jews are not a religion but a separate “nationality” and thus not Russian citizens.

  • In the early 1900s the Russian Czar’s secret police forged a document called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It purports to show how a secret group of Jews is planning world domination. Putin was the head of the KGB. Russia hasn’t changed much in its attitude towards Jews.

  • You don’t have to hate Jews if you believe classic anti-Semitic stereotypes are true.

    Your comment makes no sense to me. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

  • “You don’t have to hate [13 Russians, Ukrainians, Tartars] Jews [and Americans] if you believe classic anti-Semitic stereotypes are true”?!

    Okey-dokey.

  • “Putin’s comment reflects the idea that [the 13 Russians, Ukrainians, Tartars] Jews [and Americans that he identified for NBC News] are not a religion but a separate ‘nationality’ and thus not Russian citizens”?!

    Yeah right and whatever, dude.

  • “Who else didn’t single out the [13 Russians, Ukrainians, Tartars] Jews [and Americans that Putin identified for NBC News]”?!

  • Putin can. And he did.

    Pay attention & learn:

    “So what if [those 13] they’re Russians? There are 146 million Russians. So what? … I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. … They do not represent the interests of the Russian state. Maybe they’re not even Russians. Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

  • FYI.

    (1) US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “There is no allegation in this indictment [of the 13 Russians] that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

    (2) David Stockman, a former member of the House of Representatives and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget: “The nefarious ‘troll farm’ in St. Petersburg that comprises nearly the totality of Mueller’s case is not a Russian intelligence agency operation at all. Nowhere in the entire 37 pages is there even a clause linking Prigozhin’s Hobby Farm to the SVR (foreign intelligence service), the FSB (counter-intelligence and anti-terrorism), the GRU (military intelligence service), any other agency of the Russian State – or even some purported Kremlin back channel to Putin.”

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