Recently Great Falls Republican Senator Jeremy Trebas was challenged by the Montana Jewish Project, the Montana Human Rights Network and WTF 406 for sharing an antisemitic post on his Twitter feed. Trebas has so far declined requests to apologize but did take the offending post down. Please see related WTF406 post for more information: https://wtf406.com/2023/12/trebas-fails-to-apologize-for-anti-semitic-tweet/
Antisemitism is on the rise nationally and here in Montana. Unfortunately, the rise of the current right wing and the intrusion of conspiracy-driven political activists has brought antisemitism out of the back rooms and increasingly into the political mainstream. Donald Trump leads the way with repeated comments which trade in antisemitic tropes, from wealthy Jews (George Soros) to accusing “liberal Jews” of voting to destroy America and Israel.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which tracks antisemitic incidents reports that in 2022, there were 3,697 antisemitic incidents across the United States. This represents a 36% increase from the 2,717 incidents recorded in 2021 and is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
In the last session of the legislature, Rabbi Ed Stafman’s scheduled prayer opening the day’s legislative session was canceled at the last minute without explanation by Republican House leader Matt Regier. Stafman, who is also a legislator, was replaced by a Christian delivering a Christian prayer. Stafman said from the house floor that he felt he had been “shut down,” because “I’m not a Christian or delivering a Christian prayer.” He would not lead a prayer, it turned out, for the rest of the session. https://forward.com/news/547677/montana-lawmaker-rabbi-invocation-prayer-legislature-ed-stafman-legislature-house/
House Speaker Matt Regier refused to respond to numerous questions about canceling Stafman’s invocation. Several weeks later, Regier published an editorial about the incident explaining why the action was not antisemitic . The focus of Regier’s response pointed to several bills which were pro-Israel. For the record, many Jews do not support Israel’s policy in a number of areas, such as Netanyahu’s effort to “restructure” Israel’s court system and, of course, Israel’s bombing in Gaza. But the conflation of Israel’s political stances and the interests of Jews worldwide is a staple of American right-wing politics.
Most Christian Evangelicals strongly support Israel, because their “end times” theology requires that Israel’s political boundaries be reestablished to what God promised the Israelites according to the Bible,” Polling shows that 80% of Evangelicals believe that the creation of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that would bring about Christ’s return. If you have wondered why so many Evangelicals support the sinner in chief, Donald Trump, it is the same belief that he is fulfilling biblical prophecy. It is no surprise that Regier ended his editorial explaining why he is not antisemitic by saying, “May God continue to bless Israel and may God bless the United States of America.” A Jewish man at a community meeting in Hamilton put it succinctly, “Republicans love Israel. They just don’t like Jews”.