The tweet showed a symbol resembling the Star of David next to an image of Clinton’s face superimposed over a pile of money.
The 2016 presidential election has certainly been interesting so far, to say the least.
One of the most noticeable changes between present-day and past presidential elections has been the presence of social media, namely Twitter — for better or worse.
For many people, an example of the latter came in the form of presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump’s controversial tweet on July 2 declaring that “Crooked Hillary” had “Made History.”
While Trump is no stranger to internet debacles (see: his self-congratulatory tweet after the Orlando shooting), this tweet quickly made headlines because the message “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” appeared on a symbol resembling the Star of David next to a large image of Clinton’s face superimposed over a pile of money.
The news site Mic then discovered in a report released July 3 that the image (of Clinton, the money and the message on the Jewish Star) was not used for the first time in Trump’s tweet, but on a message board created by white supremacists.
“The image was previously featured on 8chan’s /pol/ — an internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump’s rhetoric — as early as June 22, over a week before Trump’s team tweeted it,” Mic’s report said.
Clinton’s team responded to the tweet by calling it “a blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites,” adding that it’s “part of a pattern that should give voters major cause for concern.”
Trump’s social media team deleted the original tweet and then sent the image again, this time with the text inside of a circle instead of a Star of David and with the accompanying message, “#AmericaFirst,” a slogan the Anti-Defamation League had in April urged Trump not to continue using due to “its anti-Semitic use in the months before Pearl Harbor by a group of prominent Americans seeking to keep the nation out of World War II.”
“The most noteworthy leader of the ‘America First Committee’ was Charles Lindbergh, who sympathized with the Nazis and whose rhetoric was characterized by anti-Semitism and offensive stereotypes, including assertions that Jews posed a threat to the U.S. because of their influence in motion pictures, radio, the press, and the government,” the ADL wrote in a press release.
On July 4, Trump tweeted that the “dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!”
The Trump campaign’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr. issued a statement, as Mic reported, that “the social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear.”
However, others don’t see it that way, which is why the tweet is still even in the news.
“The ADL immediately recognized it as an anti-Semitic image, and there was this trifecta of symbols — the Jewish star, next to a political leader, on a pile of money — referencing age-old stereotypes of Jews and money and Jews and government control,” said ADL assistant regional director Jeremy Bannett. “This adds to what we’ve been feeling for months, which is we’ve been troubled by the Trump campaign for what we see as a mainstreaming of bigotry.
“We’re a 501(c)(3) organization, and we don’t support or oppose candidates for office but we don’t think it is a Democratic or Republican issue. This is about the mainstreaming of hate.”
Despite Trump’s defense of the tweet and arguing that the image was not anti-Semitic, he has not directly apologized, which is what Bannett is hoping he does.
“The response we believe has not been the correct response so far,” he said. “We’re calling on Trump to number one, acknowledge the error; number two, to apologize; and number three, to vehemently renounce anti-Semitism and bigotry in his campaign.
“We’re not calling Trump an anti-Semite or a bigot, and we know we cannot control who supports him,” Bannett continued, “but his campaign has emboldened white supremacists and he needs to make it clear that bigotry and hate has no place in his campaign. He must say with the exact same passion that he uses to attack his opponent and to attack the media that hate will never make America great again.”
On the other hand, some do not see why the tweet was ever considered anti-Semitic.
“From my perspective, there’s no question that the intent had nothing to do with the Jewish people or the Star of David,” said Bill Wanger, the Pennsylvania and South Jersey chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
“Under no circumstances was there any hidden meaning and, frankly, any Jew who feels it was designed to hurt them should get a life.”
The meaning behind the tweet, which Wanger feels was referencing Clinton breaking the law and nothing more, has perhaps been exaggerated.
“I think it is a sort of media matter that doesn’t matter to a Trump supporter,” Wanger said, “and anybody who looks at it without wanting to be injured or offended understands what it was intended to do — it was intended to show that Hillary violated the law.
“It was intended to talk about what she has done and sort of convey that she should be subject to the law not above the law as she seems to think she is.”
For him, the tweet’s alleged undertones diminish “real” anti-Semitic remarks, and he likened the perception to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall when Grammy Hall asks, “Would Jew like some food?” and Allen sees it as anti-Semitic.
“Why should somebody apologize for something that was neither intended nor anybody of normal intelligence who reads it should know that it was not intended as a slur,” he said. “It actually diminishes real anti-Semitic remarks; if people want to see anti-Semitic remarks they should read what Palestinians put out and what the Palestinian Authority puts out — they’re real anti-Semitic remarks.”
Wanger is certain of the Republican Party’s support for Israel as a whole, and said he will be interested to hear what Trump has to say at the convention, though he isn’t going.
“He will be a strong supporter of Israel and he will appoint people who will be strong supporters of Israel.”
In the meantime, he hopes maybe people stop talking about the tweet because it’s a “non-issue.”
“Its half-life is already far beyond what it should be merited,” he said. “People would rather talk about Trump’s tweet than Hillary’s emails.”
While the tweet seemed to slowly dissipate from headlines, last week it reemerged as Trump tweeted an image of a coloring book with pictures from Disney’s Frozen that had a symbol resembling a Jewish star on the cover.
“Where is the outrage for this Disney book? Is this the ‘Star of David’ also? Dishonest media! #Frozen,” Trump tweeted.
Continuing the Frozen theme and riffing off “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Clinton tweeted in response, “Do you want to build a Strawman?”
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