Donald Trump’s closing ad is drawing criticism from Jewish groups, who say it plays on Jewish stereotypes.
The two-minute ad, “Donald Trump’s Argument for America,” rails against “those who control the levers of power in Washington” and “global special interests” and includes shadowy footage of several prominent Jews, including financier George Soros, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs.
The references to the “global power structure” imposed over the Jewish figures “create thinly-veiled allusions to centuries-old anti-Semitic propaganda,” said rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He said the ad is part of a pattern of anti-Semitic tropes that have been perpetuated by the Trump campaign.
“There is no place in civil political discourse for the perpetuation of harmful and baseless stereotypes,” Pesner said. “It is the responsibility of every candidate for elected office to promote the interests of all Americans, without resorting to dangerously xenophobic and otherwise bigoted rhetoric or insinuations.”
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who is Jewish, called the ad a “German shepherd dog whistle” to certain groups in the United States. He likened the ad to other anti-Semitic propaganda about an “ international banking plot or conspiracy,” led by Jews.
“Trump has retweeted a lot of that sort of thing,” Franken told CNN’s State of the Union. “And I think that it’s an appeal to some of the worst elements in our country as a closing argument.”
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted that “whether intentional or not” the use of such images and rhetoric “needs to stop.”
Jason Greenblatt, co-chair of Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee, accused the ADL of involving itself in partisan politics and said it should “focus on real anti-Semitism and hatred, and not try to find any where none exist.”
He said Trump’s campaign had raised “important” ideas, and the suggestion the ad was anti-Semitic is “completely false and uncalled for. Mr. Trump’s message and all of the behavior that I have witnessed over the two decades that I have known him have consistently been pro-Jewish and pro-Israel and accusations otherwise are completely off-base.”
Trump himself has been accused of trafficking in Jewish stereotypes, including telling the Republican Jewish Coalition in December: “I’m a negotiator, like you folks.”
Trump also retweeted an image of what appeared to be a Star of David surrounded by cash. It was unclear where the campaign found the image, but it previously appeared on a white supremacist message board filled with anti-Semitic messages.
Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump often find themselves targets of Trump supporters. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has publicly defended him, saying that as a Jew and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, he has never found Trump to be anti-Semitic. Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism.
Clinton, too, has a two-minute closing ad that will air tonight during The Voice on NBC and and Kevin Can Wait on CBS. Her ad features Clinton speaking to the camera, making a case that voters need to reject a campaign “defined by fear and division” and choose one that is “hopeful and inclusive.”
Anita Kumar contributed to this report.