Jewish leaders warn about rising antisemitism in GOP campaigns. AIPAC's 1st ad buy targets a Democrat.

Doug Mastriano
Doug Mastriano Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jewish leaders on Monday expressed alarm about antisemitism they warn is becoming "increasingly normalized in American politics," pointing especially to "a series of bigoted comments from associates or supporters of GOP candidates," The Washington Post reports.

The perceived antisemitism, the Post recounts, includes Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker not rejecting Kanye "Ye" West's endorsement, Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano's "extremist ties and comments about his Jewish opponent," and a recently fired staffer for Nevada GOP Senate nominee Adam Laxalt who had called Judaism a "cult" and tweeted comments attacking Jews.

A Laxalt spokesman on Monday criticized the former staffer's "bigoted opinions." When an Israeli reporter asked Mastriano over the weekend about his perceived antisemitic attacks on Democratic rival Josh Shapiro, his wife, Rebbie Mastriano, answered, "We probably love Israel more than a lot of Jews do."

The rise in antisemitic rhetoric in politics is "disturbing to all of us," American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen told the Post, and "on the right" the nonpartisan advocacy group doesn't "see the kind of leadership it's going to take to stop the growth of this kind of antisemitic hatred." Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) urged Walker to reject Ye's support given his "explicit and vile antisemitism."

The Republican Jewish Coalition defended the GOP candidates — except Mastriano. Meanwhile, the most influential Jewish lobbying group in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), targeted Pennsylvania Democrat Summer Lee in its first general election ad of 2022, The Intercept reports.

AIPAC's new United Democracy Project (UDP) political action committee spent nearly $3 million trying unsuccessfully to defeat Lee in the Democratic primary, and the group announced $300,000 of new anti-Lee TV ads on Monday. UDP spokesman Patrick Dorton told The Intercept the race is close and UDP is "focused on races where we can have an impact."

Lee, a Black progressive angling to become part of the progressive Squad, "has not said much about Israel in her short political career," The Intercept reports. Dorton pointed to a single tweet thread in which Lee compared Palestinian protesters to Black Lives Matters and other marginalized groups, and later comments suggesting U.S. military aid be conditioned on Israel's pursuit of peace talks with the Palestinians.

UDP this year "endorsed more than 100 Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election," The Intercept reports.

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