(September 29, 2020 / JNS) Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has compared U.S. President Donald Trump to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.
When asked in a Sept. 26 interview on MSNBC about Trump’s repeated accusation that Biden was pushing a socialist agenda, Biden replied that Trump is “sort of like Goebbels. You say the lie long enough, keep repeating it, repeating it, repeating it, it becomes common knowledge.”
The Trump campaign slammed back against the comparison.
“Rather than launching preposterous accusations against the president, Joe Biden and his team should answer for inviting notorious anti-Semites Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour to speak at the Democrat National Convention,” said Ken Farnaso, the campaign’s deputy national press secretary. “Biden is desperately trying to distract Americans from his disastrous record and socialist policies.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition followed suit and called on the former U.S. vice president “to retract and apologize for that egregious comment.”
“The rule in debate is that if your only argument is to call your opponent a Nazi, you have no argument at all,” said the organization’s executive director, Matt Brooks, in a statement. “Instead of engaging in a debate on policy, Joe Biden has descended to name-calling and Holocaust references.”
“There is no place in political discourse for Holocaust imagery or comparing candidates to Nazis. It’s offensive, and it demeans the memory of the Holocaust, the suffering of the victims and the lessons we must learn from that terribly dark chapter of history,” he continued. “Joe Biden has been in politics long enough to know this. To diminish the horrors of Goebbels and the Nazis by trying to attack the president with that comparison is, as we say, a shanda.”
On Sunday, the Biden campaign doubled down on the comparison.
“His point was that you cannot trust what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. That’s a tragedy,” said Biden deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield on CNN. “Donald Trump is the American president. You can’t trust what comes out of his mouth.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper called the comparison “just really ludicrous” and the ad “almost beyond the pale.”
“The president is not Hitler. Joe Biden is not Castro,” he told JNS, adding that the comparison “degrades the memory of the Shoah.”
B’nai B’rith International also rebuked Biden and told JNS, “Over the years, we have consistently pointed out to all candidates and all parties that one can strongly disagree without using Holocaust-era imagery.”
While Democratic Majority for Israel did not respond to a request for comment about the comparison, the Jewish Democratic Council of America’s political action committee, JDCA PAC, released an ad on Tuesday drawing a direct comparison between the United States under Trump and the rise of fascism in 1930s’ Germany.
The ad, which features side-by-side footage from Nazi Germany and America under the president, consists of the narration: “History shows us what happens when leaders use hatred and nationalism to divide their people. As anti-Semitism and white nationalism rise to dangerous levels in America, we are all less secure. It’s time to show that we’ve learned from the darkest moments in history. Hate doesn’t stop itself. It must be stopped. Vote. Our future depends on it.”
The American Jewish Committee called for JDCA to “take down this ad immediately.”
“The problem of anti-Semitism in the U.S. is grave. Offensive comparisons between 2020 America and 1930’s Germany distract from the urgent need to fight Jew-hatred. They also trivialize the memories of both victims and survivors,” tweeted AJC.
Biden’s Jewish outreach director, Aaron Keyak, also “Liked” a post on Twitter that featured a picture of Hitler and included the words “Heil Trump.” Although he then “Unliked” it, the RJC made a screenshot that Keyak “Liked” the post.
Neither the Biden campaign nor Keyak responded to a request for comment.
‘Hate + extremism in this race is alarming’
Republican Jewish Coalition spokesperson Neil Strauss also blasted the ad and Keyak’s initial liking of that Twitter post, calling the comparison and what subsequently followed “a coordinated attack by the Biden campaign from Biden on down to his Jewish outreach director and the JDCA.”
However, JDCA executive director Halie Soifer told JNS, “JDCA and JDCA PAC are independent, which means we do not coordinate with any campaign or party. This ad was not coordinated in any way, and any accusation otherwise is completely false.”
Nevertheless, insisted Strauss, “when they compare their opponent to a Nazi, they serve to diminish the seriousness of Nazism. Hate the president all you want, but if you continue down this path, you are telling our fellow citizens that they are living in the equivalent of Nazi Germany, and people will start to believe that Nazi Germany was not actually hell on earth.”
“As a general principle, we at the Orthodox Union do not think that analogizing current political matters to the Holocaust is wise or appropriate,” the group’s executive director for public policy, Nathan Diament, told JNS.
In a Twitter thread, Anti-Defamation League national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said the JDCA PAC ad “is the latest in growing references to Hitler, Goebbels or other Nazi leaders. This has no place in the presidential race and is deeply offensive to the memories of 6M+ Jews systematically exterminated during the Shoah.”
“We have said this many times before, and we will say it emphatically again: the hate + extremism in this race is alarming and should be repudiated unambiguously. Elected leaders who engage in lying, scapegoating and routinely call for violence should be condemned, full stop,” he said. “At the same time, we urge leaders & their surrogates to refrain from invoking the #Holocaust in the context of the current election. It is not the same. Stay focused on the issues.”
The video from @USJewishDems is the latest in growing references to Hitler, Goebbels or other Nazi leaders. This has no place in the presidential race and is deeply offensive to the memories of 6M+ Jews systematically exterminated during the Shoah. https://t.co/pvO89COrI6
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 29, 2020
At the same time, we urge leaders & their surrogates to refrain from invoking the #Holocaust in the context of the current election. It is not the same. Stay focused on the issues.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 29, 2020
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