Fox News host and right-wing media personality Sean Hannity
received a wave of criticism on Friday night after tweeting an article from his website which users have argued features an age-old antisemitic trope.
Hannity tweeted the headline of the article, titled "BOLSHEVIK BERNIE: Sanders Says Dems Just ‘Beginning to Create an Economy That Works For All,’" which covers Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' response to US President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress, wherein the president laid out his vision for the coming years.
Sanders, who is Jewish, identifies politically as a democratic socialist. Hannity's tweet, however, compares him to the Bolsheviks, who stood for a Marxist-Leninist ideology.
People were quick to conflate Hannity's tweet with antisemitism, as the trope of Jews being Bolsheviks is a long-standing pattern in antisemitic rhetoric.
The article itself didn't explain the use of this kind of language, which functions to compare the democratic socialist demands in Sanders' tweet - a $15 minimum wage, health care for all, lower drug costs, student debt forgiveness and a higher corporate tax rate - to the totalitarian state of Stalin, who is many people's first association when the word "Bolshevik" is used.
Instead, the article goes on to discuss the fact that Biden's speech received lower ratings than previous presidential speeches, before diving into Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's analysis of the speech. Cruz - who fell asleep as Biden spoke - classified as being both "boring" and "radical."
Noted Twitter user @AntisemitismCow
, who responds with a cow's cry to tweets it alleges are antisemitic, was one of the first to make the connection between the article and the canard, retweeting the article, accompanied by its signature "moo."
Additional Twitter users were quick to flood the comments on the tweet with comparisons to the Nazis' use of the term.
The antisemitic trope
in question dates back over 100 years to the anti-communist Russian White Party, whose 1917 pamphlet The Jewish Bolshevism
featured in racist propaganda and which featured ideas that eventually made their way to the German Nazi Party, which propagated and popularized them in the German consciousness in the 1930s.
According to Prof. André Gerrits from the University of Amsterdam, the antisemitic canards of "Jewish Bolshevism" [and] "Jewish Communism" - as well as the Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory, which alleges that Jews control world politics - are catchwords falsely asserting that communism is a Jewish conspiracy.
Hannity, who has often stood up for Israel on his show, rejected the accusations that he tweeted something antisemitic and said that "Israel has no greater friend, ally and supporter in the US than me. I have a record of unwavering & passionate support for the state of Israel for 33 years on radio and 25 years on TV."
He later released the following statement:
"There is no member of the press in the United States that has been more supportive of the state of Israel than I have been and will continue to be. I have visited Israel a number of times over the years. Ambassador Dore Gold (a friend) gave me an extensive tour of the old city that I was able to share with my TV Audience. I even had the honor of a second tour with Ambassador Ron Dermer.
"On another trip to Israel I videotaped a helicopter ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem so Americans can fully understand the unique security challenges Israel faces daily, being only the size of the state of New Jersey. Israel’s security challenges are unlike any other country."
"I’ve reported on the border with Gaza in the middle of military flare ups, and spent time inside indoor bunker protected playgrounds that Israeli children play in because of Rockets being fired into border towns in Israel. Again I’ve shared all of this video with my television audience."
"I’ve been able to share with my American audience the incredible protection provided by the Iron Dome. I was also able to share with my American TV audience video of rockets recovered that were fired into Israeli cities over the years. I was also honored to visit with police departments on the security challenges of border cities. I’ve visited with and interviewed IDF soldiers in the field on the heroic work they do daily."
"I believe I am the only American member of the press to show video of the sophisticated tunnels built by enemies of Israel that have been used to commit acts of terrorism against the state of Israel. On multiple trips to Israel I always do my radio show live from Tel Aviv 102 FM. And I have broadcast “Israel only” shows on the station on a number of occasions from the US. And no, I do not get paid for such broadcasts."
"I do this because I’m passionate about the safety and security of America’s closest ally in the Middle East. I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I have had a great relationship with many other leaders in Israel including the late Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and others."
"As for Bernie Sanders, he holds the most radical socialist views in the USA. He actually honeymooned in the former Soviet Union, and has defended Soviet backed murdering regimes like the former Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua. Hence the reason I refer to him and will continue to refer to him as 'Bolshevik Bernie.' A rudimentary amount of research by the Jerusalem Post would have provided the proper context to my name for Bernie Sanders."
"My love, prayers and strong commitment to the state of Israel will never waver. As a top rated host on both radio and television in America my support for Israel has never wavered in 33 years on the radio and 25 years and that will never change."