RNC, Trump campaign double down on antisemitic “puppetmaster” trope

Thursday, July 23
Contact: Logan Smith
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RNC, Trump campaign double down on antisemitic “puppetmaster” trope

WASHINGTON – Bend the Arc: Jewish Action strongly condemns the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee’s repeated use of antisemitic tropes about Jewish “puppetmasters,” the organization announced on Thursday.

Last week, the RNC posted a blog entry calling Joe Biden “a puppet of Bernie and the radical left.” This week, the Trump campaign repeated the trope with a tweet calling Biden “a puppet on strings” and again referencing Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish.

From Bend the Arc: Jewish Action’s Dove Kent:

Right-wing regimes have long broken down the fabric of political protest by using the antisemitic notion of rich Jewish financiers as the “puppet masters” of social unrest. During the Russian Revolution, the Tsar’s secret police disseminated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fictional account of a meeting of rich Jews plotting to break down the society of their “host countries” and rule the world through the promotion of social upheaval. For a period, the Protocols did its job to undermine and destabilize the revolution against the Tsar. Because of its success, it’s been translated and promoted by right-wing ideologues around the world ever since.

As Vox noted in 2018, conspiracy theories about Jewish “puppetmasters” led to the worst massacre of Jewish Americans in history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California in 2019 and other acts of violence.

But the deadly impact of these antisemitic conspiracy theories hasn’t stopped Trump and his Republican enablers from repeating them in order to divide Americans and undermine social movements which threaten their hold on power. Just this month, the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising letter accusing Jewish billionaires of trying to “rig the election.”

“The Trump campaign usually tries to hide their antisemitic rhetoric behind dog-whistles like ‘globalist’ and ‘dual loyalty,’ but lately they haven’t even bothered to disguise their attacks on Jewish Americans,” said Rachèl Laforest, Chief Program Officer of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. “Trump is desperate to revive enthusiasm among his base and distract voters from his abysmal handling of the Covid crisis, and these open appeals to violent white nationalists will only grow louder as he continues to slip in the polls.”

In response to the antisemitic tropes and white nationalist rhetoric coming from the Trump campaign, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action launched the resource HowToFightAntisemitism.com to track the spread of antisemitism and conspiracies from far-right extremists who have taken over the GOP.

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action is uniting a movement of tens of thousands of progressive Jews across the country who are fighting for justice and equality for all. We are the only national Jewish organization focused exclusively on social change in the United States.