Anti-Semitic Threats Against Florida Judge Should Be Greater
The Florida federal judge who signed the FBI warrant to search former President Donald Trump’s property is Jewish, and the far-right terrorizes him and his community.
The Jewish Telegraph Agency (08/10/22) reported that “Bruce Reinhart…has been hit with a wave of anti-Semitic threats online,” including death threats. And the synagogue of which he sits on the council was also attacked, the Forward (08/09/22) reported:
What started with Lenny Dykstra, a retiree New York food The legend, questioning the nature of Conservative Synagogue Judaism, spread across right-wing social media platforms and message boards, where users posted the judge’s name, address and personal information. Threats have also been directed against Reinhart’s children and alleged family members.
On Thursday, a member of the synagogue told the Forward that the Shabbat service on the beach of the synagogue had been canceled… “because of social media hatred”.
Specifically, Dykstra said on Twitteraccording to Jewish Light of Saint-Louis (08/09/22):
“I hope you weren’t all expecting the synagogue where Judge Trump #BruceReinhart sits on the board to be where the congregation keeps kosher, observes the Sabbath, etc. You can bet they’re in ‘social justice’ of course!” Dykstra tweeted to his nearly 87,000 followers.
It’s a funny little twist of anti-Semitism that many non-Orthodox Jews are all too used to: Christians using an outspoken love for the Jewish religion to vilify Jews whose religious practices are less observant. It is no coincidence that many less devout Jews are more progressive in their politics than more religious communities.
Fanning the flames
Politics (08/12/22) and Religious News Service (08/12/22) picked up the story, but for the most part it has been difficult to find these details outside of the Jewish press. The mainstream media has spent more time focusing on Reinhart representing people close to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein (Politics, 08/09/22; New York Post, 08/09/22), which has helped fuel the far-right anti-Semitic theory that Trump’s enemies are a cabal of Jewish pedophiles (Guardian, 08/25/20).
FoxNews fan these flames on Tucker Carlson tonight when, as daily beast (08/12/21) reported, “stand-in animator Brian Kilmeade” used “a fabricated image of two separate photographs that appeared on screen depicting [Reinhart] on a plane receiving a foot massage from convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell,” and that “it took Sean Hannity of all people to clearly state the inauthenticity of the image. In a more reality-based smear, FoxNews (08/09/22) insinuated that the judge was politically biased in reporting on his past support for former President Barack Obama.
USA today (08/10/22) reported on the threats against Reinhart, but did not mention the anti-Jewish nature of the ordeal.
Two Jewish communities – Highland Park of Illinois (CNN, 07/27/22), and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh (WHY, 10/22/21) – are still reeling from the mass shootings, the latest of which was, as FAIR (10/30/18) reported, explicitly inspired by anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant talking points in the media of far-right pro-Trump.
Interestingly, in the Highland Park shooting, much like the Florida judge’s case, the Forward (07/07/22) noted that mainstream media coverage of the attack ignored evidence of targeting a Jewish community, painting it as a random suburban attack that “could happen anywhere”. “Jews begging them to talk about our community and how it was affected were completely ignored,” Elad Nehorai wrote.
There’s a disturbing echo of the Tree of Life shooter’s obsession with Jewish immigration agency HIAS in Dykstra’s complaint about the Florida synagogue’s concern for “social justice.” And far-right outrage over the Trump raid has already proven capable of turning violent, as a Jan. 6 insurgent was killed by law enforcement attempting to attack an FBI office in Cleveland (WXXIX/PA, 08/10/22).
One would think, then, that the anti-Jewish threats against Reinhart would be bigger news.
Of course, the business press likes to talk about anti-Semitism sometimes. The the wall street journal (01/17/22) said anti-Semitic violence by Muslims and the left was not taken seriously because “Islamist and left-wing terrorism is closely associated with the Democrats”. Murdoch’s article (05/24/21) also said Democrats are fueling anti-Semitism with their criticism of the Israeli government.
The New York Times (04/26/22) reported on legitimate increases in threats against Jews, but this newspaper and others were also found to have misrepresented anti-Semitism as an extension of legitimate criticism of the Israeli government (FAIR.org08/26/20).
The media’s failure to adequately portray what happened to Reinhart is not just a blow to him and his community – it’s a failure to expose how far-right grassroots supporters of Trump are deeply fascist and hateful. It’s easy to dismiss threats as meaningless outbursts. But Trump’s base has been extremely violent and followed through on those threats, from the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The reason Reinhart’s role in the FBI sparks such fervor in the Trump movement is not just that he signed the warrant, but he represents the kind of “Jewish problem” that the far right perceives in the US government. There is a consistent white nationalist mythology that, while Jews are not the public face of the liberal, democratic order, they are its puppeteers behind the scenes. Unaccountable to the electoral system, they spend their days thwarting Trump’s efforts to establish christian rule in the USA.
Trump himself has been accused of using anti-Semitism in his political rhetoric (vanity lounge, 12/17/21; FAIR.org01/28/20), and even if he is out of power, there are more and more Republican candidates and elected officials linked to anti-Semitism (CNN, 05/06/22, 07/28/22; New York Times, 06/10/22; New York, 01/28/21). In short, these posters threatening the judge are simply no longer aberrant on the right; their values are represented as normal within the party.
Hopefully, Reinhart and her community will not suffer any physical harm as a result of these threats. But such threats continue to fester in an ideology that has, indeed, flared up against Jews as well as other minorities. The media should be concerned about it.