Tracking Nancy Pelosi’s Gazpacho police must be a rigorous chore, yet the idiocy of the congresswoman who fabricated the story hardly compares with blocking the appointment of an antisemitism monitor or undermining the attorney-general over disruptions at local school board meetings that weaponize antisemitism.
Republican members of Congress are playing a perilous game with American Jews. GOP senators wasted the last six months delaying a vote to appoint Dr. Deborah Lipstadt as President Biden’s antisemitism monitor, and last October congressional Republicans employed specious reasons to assail Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s memo addressing disruption of local school proceedings.
It is no surprise that these developments were overshadowed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s campaign against the Speaker of the House’s “Gazpacho police” spying on Republicans. All possible jokes about Greene’s semantic mix-up with “Gestapo” appear to be exhausted.
There is never a right time to manipulate serious policy, and we are all aware of the awful level of antisemitism in North America.
The Jewish community needs all the help it can get right now. If a federal monitor of antisemitism can do any good, then anyone in his right mind would do whatever is possible to facilitate the appointment. If confirmed, Lipstadt will serve as State Department envoy tracking antisemitism and meeting with foreign governments about combating the pattern, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
The president nominated an academic figure who is possibly the most eminent expert on the Holocaust and antisemitism alive today. Her book Denying the Holocaust triggered a libel lawsuit filed by English author David Irving in 1993 for characterizing some of his writings and public statements as Holocaust denial. The justice in the bench trial produced a written judgment detailing Irving’s distortion of World War II.
Lipstadt is a Dorot professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and has authored books on the Eichmann trial, her alleged libel case and American press coverage of the persecution of the Jews from 1933 to 1945.
Then she had to spoil it all by hurting the feelings of one or more Republican senators. Sen. James Risch, an Idaho Republican, placed a hold on Lipstadt’s nomination six months ago because of her past attacks on Republicans, even though she also condemned congressional Democrats, according to JTA.
During a confirmation hearing for Lipstadt last week, Risch acknowledged the delay, noting that he heard the “grumbling” over it, and added that it was a “learning” opportunity for nominees who attack members of the committee who may one day confirm them.
He could not mean that she should suck up to the senators and kiss their behinds, or does he? Or she should never exercise her free-speech rights to voice what she believes is the truth if it will embarrass Risch and his friends?
Risch colleague Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told a talk show host last March that the Jan. 6 (2021) rioters posed no threat and “loved their country” when they terrorized members of Congress gathered to affirm Biden’s presidential election, according to JTA. He added that he would have been concerned if Black Lives Matter protesters were in the Capitol.
“This is white/supremacy/nationalism,” Lipstadt tweeted then, attaching an account of Johnson’s comments.
Johnson attended the hearing, conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he pledged his opposition to her confirmation, saying that her tweet amounted to “malicious poison,” whatever that means. Of course, there cannot be anything “malicious” about distinguishing between white and black protests.
She told the senator that she regretted the tweet, noting that she was describing her attitude on a viewpoint, not Johnson personally, according to JTA. He rejected her explanation, but thanked her for expressing regret.
Lipstadt is expected to be confirmed, whenever the committee votes followed by the full Senate vote. She was granted last week’s hearing after Jewish organizations pressed for it in the wake of the hostage-taking at a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue in mid-January. It took six months for her appointment to get this far because of Risch and Johnson.
Risch’s hold on Lipstadt’s confirmation was permitted under the Senate’s autocratic rules. That would have been an opportune time for senators to reconsider the body’s blundering ways of doing business.
While it can take six months to settle misunderstandings in Washington, a Jewish candidate for mayor on Monday was almost shot in his Louisville, Ky., office, allegedly by a local civic activist. The candidate, Craig Greenberg, was not hurt, and It is not known at this writing if the alleged shooter was motivated by antisemitism.
Last October, Senate Republicans accused Attorney General Merrick B. Garland of intimidating parents who appear before local school boards to voice their concerns on mask mandates and the teaching of race-related themes. Antisemitism was injected into some of these instances.
These concerns did little more than result in physical fights, arrests, charges of disorderly conduct and threats made against board members, faculty and administrators, according to The New York Times.
“The full force of the FBI is now something a parent has to think about before they go before a school board meeting to express their concerns and they get frustrated,” Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, said during a Senate Judiciary Committee, the Times reported.
Tillis asked Garland to rescind or revise a memo telling the FBI and the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices to meet with local law enforcement agencies by early November to review how to address the threats and to open “dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response,” according to the Times.
Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, suggested political pressure prompted Garland to issue the memo after school officials complained to the White House. Garland said that was not the case, but so what if it was? Garland’s office is supposed to operate independent of the president, but has the president no right to contact the AG’s office over a legitimate concern?
Garland offered Cotton a let-me-talk-to-you-like-a-6-year-old explanation: “When we get reports of violence and threats of violence, we need to act very swiftly. I would have hated it to have gotten this letter and then acts of violence occurred in the interim.”
Then again, the average 6-year-old –maybe any 6-year-old – can figure it out for themselves.