The Jewish online magazine Tablet has accused the White House of engaging in “Jew-baiting” and “racial and ethnic prejudice” to slander critics of the Iran deal, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.
The magazine's editors compared the behavior of the White House to "the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally."
Schumer, a Jewish Democrat, announced on Thursday that he was breaking with President Barack Obama and would vote to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement.
In the editorial, titled “Crossing a Line to Sell a Deal,” the editors of Tablet on Friday asserted that the "White House and its allies shouldn’t need to smear American Jews — and a sitting senator — as dual loyalists to make their case.”
While the editors noted that they “support the president” and “sympathize” with his efforts to combat Iran’s nuclear weapons pursuit, they wrote, “What we increasingly can’t stomach — and feel obliged to speak out about right now — is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it.”
President Barack Obama speaks to the media before signing the H.R. 1138 Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act. in the Oval Office at the White House, August 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple. Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South,” the editors wrote.
“This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately — some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives,” Tablet wrote. “Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about ‘money’ and ‘lobbying’ and ‘foreign interests’ who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card.”
“It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States — and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it,” the editors wrote.
“Whatever one feels about the merits of the Iran deal, sales techniques that call into question the patriotism of American Jews are examples of bigotry — no matter who does it,” the editors added.
At a meeting last Tuesday at the White House, Jewish-American community leaders confronted Obama about insinuating that opponents of the Iran deal are “warmongers,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported, quoting meeting participants.
The Jewish leaders - who described the meeting as "contentious" - also criticized Obama for telling liberal groups in a conference call that opponents of the deal were funded by billionaires.
Despite the concerns voiced to the president a day earlier, Obama in a speech Wednesday at American University appeared to repeat those money and war promotion accusations.
"Between now and the congressional vote in September, you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising," he said. "And if the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should, for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal."