Updated: Sep 18, 2022
By Blake Fox
The world looked on in horror as pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to overturn the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral victory. While thousands of protesters, both peaceful and violent, had converged on Washington D.C. for many different reasons, for those in the Jewish community, the horror of the antisemitism present at the attack on the world’s oldest democracy was incredibly traumatic. For the four years of the Donald Trump presidency, despite his steadfast support of Israel and the Jewish members in his own family, many have called out what they see as a dangerous rise in hatred towards Jews. In 2017, a neo-Nazi crowd chanted, “Jews will not replace us,” in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia; and in 2018, a white supremacist killed 11 Jews at a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. However, many see the insurrection at the Capitol as the culmination of Trump’s presidency.
Regarding antisemitism, the media gave the most attention to Robert Keith Packer, an insurrectionist wearing a sweatshirt reading “Camp Auschwitz” on the front and “Staff” on the back. Auschwitz was a Nazi concentration camp responsible for the extermination of 1.1 million people, including mostly Jews. Other rioters could be seen raising Nazi salutes or wearing paraphernalia showing support for the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), QAnon is not inherently antisemitic, but “several aspects of QAnon lore mirror longstanding antisemitic tropes. The belief that a global ‘cabal’ is involved in rituals of child sacrifice has its roots in the antisemitic trope of blood libel. In addition, QAnon has a deep-seated hatred for George Soros, a name that has become synonymous with perceived Jewish meddling in global affairs.” Many Jews were also alarmed to see an insurrectionist harassing an Israeli journalist with accusations of being a “Yid,” a “lying Israeli,” and “playing the [rhetorical] game.” At a similar pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally in December 2020, a man was spotted wearing a t-shirt reading “6MWE,” an acronym for “6 million wasn’t enough.”
Many of the notable figures who participated in the insurrection have also been accused of antisemitism in the past. For example, Nick Fuentes, a political commentator and the leader of the Groypers movement, who has denied the validity of the Holocaust, was present at the riot. Also present was Tim Gionet, better known as “Baked Alaska,” who is a neo-Nazi.
Many Jews hope the hatred that seems to have been brought out by Trump and culminated in the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol will diminish under the Biden administration.