Religion News

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.

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