Jewish Groups Differ Over Appointment of Stephen Bannon as White House Chief Strategist
JNS.org – Major US Jewish groups were at odds on Monday over President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to choose Stephen Bannon, the former head of the Breitbart News website, as his chief strategist and senior counselor.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sharply rebuked Trump, calling the decision “a sad day” for those who support pluralism and tolerance.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s statement first praised Trump’s choice of Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, noting his “long career in politics and public life.”
“At the same time, the ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior adviser and chief strategist in the White House,” Greenblatt said. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed antisemites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’”
Greenblatt called on Trump to “nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that make our country great.”
While Breitbart has been criticized for appealing to white nationalists and antisemites, the website also employs Jewish staff members and has largely been pro-Israel in its coverage of the Jewish state.
“I don’t know where [the criticism is] coming from; that’s not the Steve Bannon that I know,” Priebus said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday. “I find him not to be the way that he’s being accused, I find him to be the opposite.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) said last week that the ADL’s frequent criticism of Trump may compromise its future relationship with the president-elect’s administration.
“I think that the ADL has put itself potentially in a compromising position going forward, in terms of its ability to interact with the incoming administration,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a post-election conference call, the Forward reported.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) explained Monday that it does not anticipate publicizing its reaction to each Trump administration appointment, differing from the ADL’s approach.
“Of utmost concern is ensuring that policies proposed and put into place make good on President-elect Trump’s election night promise, for the benefit of all citizens of our too-divided country, and address the central concerns of the American people and our allies around the world,” said Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s assistant executive director for policy. “Presidents get to choose their teams and we do not expect to comment on the appointment of every key adviser.”