Rep. Eric Swalwell, who represents Pleasanton in the East Bay’s Alameda County, wrote an op-ed in the Forward this week highlighting California’s recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents and condemning President Trump and some of his associates who he believes have “tacitly or explicitly empowered extremism in ways not seen in generations.”
“Hate is on the rise in America, oozing like poison into our national business — and even into our government’s official business,” wrote the 39-year-old member of Congress, who vaulted onto the national political stage recently with a spirited presidential bid that ended in July, and who began his political career nine years ago with a seat on the Dublin City Council. “It’s on all of us to call it out, and tone it down.”
Swalwell, who has played a highly visible role in impeachment proceedings against the president as a member of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, cited an FBI report released in November showing that anti-Semitic incidents soared to a 16-year high across the nation in 2018, and a July report from the California attorney general that showed anti-Semitic hate crimes in the state climbed by 21 percent from 2017 to 2018.
He also cited recent anti-Semitic incidents in the Bay Area covered by J. that alarmed him, including robocalls attacking Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018 and conspiratorial fliers discovered in Novato in August that suggested Jews were responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. J. later linked the Novato fliers to a notorious YouTuber called “Handsome Truth.”
“This isn’t happening in a vacuum,” Swalwell wrote in the piece, published Tuesday. “It’s happening as President Donald Trump and his allies dabble in hate-baiting propaganda.”
Swalwell mentioned Trump’s claim that there were “good people on both sides” after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally organized by white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville in 2017, and recent comments suggesting that Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal” to Israel.
It’s happening as President Donald Trump and his allies dabble in hate-baiting propaganda.
He went on to list a litany of offenses by Trump associates, such as his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and “far-right allies” Glenn Beck and Rep. Steve King, who have advanced anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, particularly about the Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
In 2018, Trump propped up the pernicious theory that Soros, a major Democratic donor and Holocaust survivor, was funding a caravan of migrants seeking to enter the country from Central America. Robert Bowers, the suspected shooter at the October 2018 Tree of Life synagogue killings, made reference to a related myth in online posts before his attack, that the Jewish nonprofit HIAS was bringing dangerous “invaders” into the country “that kill our people.”
In September, Giuliani said in an interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox News that an “organization … run by George Soros” is somehow central to the Ukraine affair that has embroiled his client in impeachment proceedings.
“George Soros was behind it. George Soros’s company was funding it,” Giuliani later said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sept. 29.
“No matter the purpose, the rhetoric is resonating with some of America’s worst bottom-feeders,” Swalwell wrote, “emboldening them to speak louder with even more vile lies.”
The op-ed was published one day before Trump signed an executive order that was praised by the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups. The order, titled “Combating Anti-Semitism,” expands Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit “forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism” at public universities and other institutions that receive federal funding. Critics say the measure could curb free speech and limit legitimate criticism of Israel by using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance examples of modern day anti-Semitism that cite Israel.
Swalwell, a former soccer player who attended Dublin High School before earning undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Maryland, also brought up former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone’s claim that Fiona Hill, former Russia analyst on the National Security Council and an impeachment foe of Trump’s, was a “mole” for Soros in the White House. During an impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, Hill called the suggestion “an absolute outrage.”
“Simply put, Trump and his allies are so eager to double down on divisive politics that they will embrace anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” Swalwell wrote.
“Words matter,” he continued. “Hate must not be stoked, lest innocent people die. As a country, we must hold Trump and his minions accountable for their conduct, and we must do more to protect the communities facing the greatest risk.”