Amid all the other attacks on the National Rifle Association blaming the organization and its members for the Parkland, Florida high school shooting on Valentine's Day, the left is now emphasizing another angle of attack: declaring the NRA anti-Semitic.
At Haaretz.com, Rabbi Avraham Bronstein painted the NRA's Wayne LaPierre as an anti-Semitic Christian nationalist who delivered a "chilling call to arms" at the recent CPAC in Washington D.C. LaPierre's speech singled out a number of enemies America faces, a disproportionate number of which, Bronstein notes ominously, are Jewish:
In particular, he called out George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Tim Steyer as avatars of this looming menace. Though none of them are elected officials, they do share Jewish ancestry, along with wealth and influence acquired in the world of high finance.
They also share a dangerous, far-left activism, but Bronstein glosses over that because he is a Progressive Jew.
In a similar vein at Forward.com, contributing editor Jay Michaelson claims that the NRA has "an anti-Semitism problem." He too points to LaPierre's CPAC speech as alarming and anti-Jewish. It was "McCarthyite, John Birch Society style American nativism: we the common people against the cosmopolitan elites." Like Bronstein, Michaelson expresses his horror that LaPierre "disproportionately singles out Jews as examples of the foreign disease afflicting America."
Like all leftists, Michaelson sees Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan as a terrifying appeal to white supremacists to take their country back. He views it that way because leftists are globalists who don't believe America is or ever was great, and they don't want it to be great in the future.
Because LaPierre stressed the necessity for American patriots to cling to their Second Amendment rights, Michaelson claimed that the NRA leader was dog-whistling his support for a "planned massacre of Jews... to be carried out by armed mobs of 'the people' rising up against the outsiders within."
"LaPierre’s speech never mentioned the word 'Jew,'" Michaelson writes. "And yet, nearly every example of the 'enemy' was Jewish." Those Jewish examples include, as Rabbi Bronstein also pointed out, George Soros, Michael Bloomfield, Tim Steyer, and Saul Alinsky.
Perhaps LaPierre didn't mention the word Jew because it wasn't the Jewishness of these men that is the issue. Perhaps it is their radical, cultural Marxism that conservatives care about.
Jonathan S. Tobin at Haaretz stressed this very point in a more sensible opinion piece at Haaretz, "Just Because Jews Don't Like the NRA, That Doesn't Make the NRA anti-Semitic." Tobin is no fan of LaPierre, but he reassured readers that the NRA leader wasn't dog-whistling:
[M]erely tallying up the Jewish names mentioned by as NRA opponents - in a speech that never once mentioned Jews or Jewish issues - isn’t enough to make a case for dog whistling, let alone anti-Semitism.
The notion that the NRA is solely focused on liberal Jews - even though most major Jewish groups and the religious denominations are in the forefront of the fight for more gun control laws - as its opponents is false.
As for LaPierre's mention of Soros, Bloomberg, and Steyer, Tobin states, "It is possible to criticize [Soros] for his politics - as is the case with his counterparts on the right like the Koch Brothers and others - without being anti-Semitic. The same is true for Bloomberg. The former mayor of New York is not just some random billionaire whose name was plucked out of the air by LaPierre. He is the founder of a major anti-gun rights political operation." And "Steyer is the prime donor and the face of the movement to impeach Trump as well as a major backer of liberal efforts on guns."
Tobin concludes with, "It should be possible to oppose the NRA without dragging in such specious charges." Indeed, but the left attacks almost exclusively through the politics of personal destruction, not appeals to reason.
Yehuda Remer at The Daily Wire provides a paranoia-free perspective on this issue from the right, calling the NRA "Freedom’s Safest Place." As for the organization's purported anti-Semitism, Remer describes his positive experience:
[T]he NRA itself does not care if I am Jewish. Actually, let me rephrase that — they very much care that I am Jewish, because they care to make the playing field even. They want me to be able to protect myself from a tyrannical government and defend myself from those willing to harm me only because I am Jewish. The fact that I am Jewish does not exclude me from the NRA. The fact that I wear my Kippah does not restrict me from joining the millions of Americans who care about one thing — to be safe.[...]
The Jews of America need not look any further than the NRA for a safe haven. They provide training, insurance, education, and support. They do not care if you are Jewish. They want to ensure one thing and one thing only. You have the ability to defend yourself against any enemy no matter your background.
I am a proud American Jew. I am a proud member of the NRA. I live in America’s Safest Place. I am the National Rifle Association.