FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 12
Contact: Logan Smith
Trump once again uses antisemitic “puppet master” trope
In need of a distraction from COVID failures, Trump uses antisemitic dog-whistles to appeal to the worst elements of the GOP base
WASHINGTON – President Trump is once again using antisemitic tropes about “puppet masters” to attack Democrats, continuing the Trump campaign’s repeated attacks on Jewish politicians and donors in recent weeks and months.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that Vice President Joe Biden’s “puppet masters are willing to destroy the U.S. Supreme Court.” While the tweet does not specifically label those so-called “puppet masters” as Jewish, Trump and his campaign have repeatedly done so in the past -- making the target of his dog-whistle clear to his followers.
In September, the official Donald J. Trump and “Team Trump” Facebook pages ran ads depicting Joe Biden as a puppet controlled by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish. In July, the Trump campaign posted a tweet calling Biden “a puppet on strings” and again referencing Sanders. The RNC repeated the trope with a blog entry calling Biden “a puppet of Bernie and the radical left.”
In addition to the “puppet master” trope, the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising letter in July accusing Jewish billionaires of trying to “rig the election.” And in September, the campaign was criticized for using antisemitic dogwhistles to attack Jewish donor Michael Bloomberg.
“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 use of antisemitism to generate fear,” said Stosh Cotler, Chief Executive 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.”
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 “puppet masters” 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.
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.