Amid the uproar sparked by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments Tuesday denying the Nazi regime’s use of chemical weapons during World War II, some opponents of the Trump administration predictably accused Spicer, and Trump by proxy, of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments.
But at least one prominent Democrat, jurist Alan Dershowitz, pushed back against the claim, arguing that Spicer’s comments at the Tuesday press conference were a verbal blunder, not an intentional dismissal of the Holocaust.
“What happened here is the guy [Spicer] screwed up. He apologized, and he apologized from his heart. And I’m prepared to give him a pass on this.”
Since then, one of Israel’s most prominent journalists has also rejected the allegation that malice towards Jews was behind Spicer’s faux pas.
Noah Klieger, himself a survivor of the Holocaust, now a veteran Israeli journalist, argued in a piece published by Yediot Aharonot late Wednesday night that Spicer’s comments reflect a troubling pattern of ignorance among public figures today, not anti-Semitism.
“Often times people in the government and politicians don’t really know the history,” wrote Klieger.
“Even if Spicer’s comments deserve to be condemned and criticized, there needs to be a limit to the accusations against him. It’s totally obvious that he didn’t mean to diminish the Holocaust or Hitler’s crimes.”
The race to condemn Spicer and the calls for his dismissal, added Klieger, stem not from a serious desire to combat anti-Semitism, but from the distaste Trump’s political opponents have with everything and anyone associated with his campaign and subsequent presidency.
“More than anything else, the calls for Trump to fire his spokesperson are just an expression of hypocrisy. The same is true of those recently demanding Prime Minister Netanyahu pressure the American president to fire Spicer.”
Trump’s critics, Klieger said, “leapt upon Spicer’s comment as if it were some newly unearthed treasure chest, and labelled it as anti-Semitism, and then added that this kind of anti-Semitism apparently represents the positions of the president and his whole administration. But Trump obviously isn’t anti-Semitic, and not just because his daughter converted [to Judaism] and keeps Shabbat.”