ADL decries Trump choice of Bannon as top adviser: ‘A sad day’

Ron Kampeas

Stephen Bannon

Stephen K. Bannon talking about immigration issues with a caller while hosting Brietbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League decried Donald Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as a top White House adviser, saying Bannon’s association with “unabashed anti-Semites and racists” is disqualifying.

Bannon, longtime CEO of the right-wing Breitbart news website, a clearinghouse of “alt-right” views, joined Trump’s presidential bid late in the campaign and helped lead it to victory.

The ADL in its statement, first praised the president elect for his other hire announced Sunday, Reince Priebus, currently the chairman of the Republican National Committee, as chief of staff.

“At the same time, the ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior adviser and chief strategist in the White House,” the statement, posted on Twitter by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, said. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ – a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house’.”


Breitbart employs Jews and covers Israel sympathetically, but also has become the nexus of the “alt-right” movement, which includes in it homophobes, misogynists, white supremacists and anti-Semites. In one recent instance, a writer mocked a critic of Polish populism because she is Jewish.

Bannon’s ex-wife in 2007, in sworn affidavits, said he was resisting sending their daughters to a private school because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.” Bannon denied it.

Before the appointment was made official, Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House of Representatives speaker who is expected to play a senior role in a Trump administration, dismissed claims that Bannon was an anti-Semite.

Dismissing concerns about Bannon and the “alt-right” as coming from “nut cakes”, Gingrich, who is close to the right wing pro-Israel community, told CBS on Sunday morning that Bannon could not be an anti-Semite because he had worked on Wall Street and in Hollywood.

Liberal Jewish groups joined in the criticism of the Bannon appointment.

“Those of us who were alarmed by Trump’s campaign when it began over a year ago are starting to see the things we feared come to pass, and this is one of them – the elevation of an avowed bigot to a position of incredible official power,” said Stosh Cotler, the CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a political action committee that had opposed Trump.

The National Jewish Democratic Committee said in a statement that the hire showed that Trump was not serious about Jewish sensibilities, despite his oft-repeated defense that his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish.

“No amount of Jewish family members or potential White House Shabbat dinners will overshadow the fact that Trump has hired a man like Bannon as one of his most senior staffers,” the NJDC said. “We won’t forget.”

Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that is part of the boycott Israel movement, likened Trump to the Israeli government. “From our work on Israel, we are familiar with the deepening violence, hatred and repression that comes from a far right government,” it said. “We cannot sit by and watch that take place here–this is not a time for business as usual.”