Donald Trump’s final campaign advertisement appears to employ classic anti-Semitic innuendo.
“The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election,” the GOP presidential nominee warns in the two-minute video. “For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind.”
As Trump says “levers of power in Washington,” we see footage of George Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist. And when Trump says, “global special interests,” Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen appears on screen.
Both Soros and Yellen are Jewish.
The audio for the beginning of the ad comes from remarks Trump made at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, in October that critics had already condemned for anti-Semitism. (Toward the end of the video, we see Trump making the speech.)
Splicing the remarks together with images of Soros and Yellen, however, heightens this anti-Semitic effect. The combined use of the troubling rhetoric and images of those individuals resembles more explicitly anti-Semitic narratives throughout modern history. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a late 19th-century publication likely commissioned by the Tsarist Russian government, helped spread the conspiracy theory that a Jewish-run cabal of global financial elites dictated world affairs. Some version of this theory continues to inspire anti-Semites.
Soros, a major funder of progressive political causes, has long been the target of conservative vitriol that veers into anti-Semitic invective.
The Federal Reserve, whose past three leaders including Yellen have been Jewish, is also a frequent object of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. In fact, an Islamic State propaganda video calling for a return to the gold standard portrays the central bank as a front for Jewish global domination.
Politico reporter Glenn Thrush noted that the video also features an image of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who is also Jewish.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thanks to Trump’s unabashed use of bigoted rhetoric to describe Mexican immigrants and other minority groups, the GOP nominee’s campaign has aroused the enthusiasm of a once-marginal contingent of white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
These Trump supporters are also prejudiced against Jewish people. They’ve taken particular aim at Jewish journalists, whom they harass on social media. A Trump supporter at a rally in Phoenix last week turned to the media pen and chanted “Jew-S-A.”
“Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that antisemites have used for ages. This needs to stop,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement on Sunday.
Later on Sunday, the Trump campaign denied that the ad is anti-Semitic and suggested the Anti-Defamation League should “focus on real anti-semitism and hatred.” The Anti-Defamation League maintained that its criticism was nonpartisan.
Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist advocacy organization, called Trump’s video a “powerful ad.”
“Trump has certainly not run an anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist campaign,” he said.
Spencer said it’s likely the speech used in the ad was written by Trump adviser Stephen Miller, “who’s Jewish.”
“That said, any serious person, of the Right or Left, who honestly examines the financial and geopolitical power structure will, sooner or later, encounter the reality of Jewish power ― and the Jewish identity of so many making up this structure,” he added, before noting that there are “other important players in the game.”
This article has been updated to include a statement from the Trump campaign and Jonathan Greenblatt.