We’ve had the Iron Lady, Slick Willie and The Governator. Political monikers are not a new thing. But a new and controversial one has emerged as a result of Republican divisions over the prospect of Donald Trump becoming the party’s candidate for the US presidency.
The term “renegade Jew” is trending after one right-wing news organisation Breitbart News used it as part of a headline attacking William Kristol, the editor of another conservative journal the Weekly Standard.
The full headline reads “Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew prepares third party effort to block Trump’s path to White House”. It accompanies a hostile profile of Kristol by the Jewish writer David Horowitz whose name has also been trending.
Kristol is one of the prominent Republican voices opposed to Trump (although in fairness, Kristol does seem to have softened his support of the #NeverTrump campaign recently). Trump is the last remaining Republican candidate in the Presidential race, although that doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in for the GOP candidacy.
There’s speculation in Washington that Kristol is one of the a group of anti-Trump Republicans – which is said to also include Mitt Romney – allegedly seeking ways to keep the businessman from running for the Oval Office. The conspirators are said to want to elect a third-party candidate to challenge Trump for the nomination in defiance of the will of those who voted for him in the primaries.
However, much of the online conversation resulting from Horowitz’s article has been less about Trump’s personal merits or lack of them and more about the pungent phrase in the headline. For some on social media “renegade Jew” encapsulated how bitter Republican divisions have become.
While others expressed the view that this was nonsense because, they argued, Horowitz couldn’t be anti-Semitic about another Jew.
Some wondered what a ‘Renegade Jew’ could be.
Others did extensive research to find out how a ‘Renegade Jew’ would behave.
But the renowned US political pollster Frank Luntz pointed out that an undistinguished Nineties rapper had also gone by the same name.
While one wag pointed out that great things had been achieved by other figures who fitted the description.
So what does lie behind the phrase? Horowitz has admitted that he came up with the headline as well as the text of the article. So it wasn’t a Breitbart sub-editor who was looking for an eye-catching title that has little to do with the words underneath.
In the body of his Breitbart text, Horowitz doesn’t actually use the word ‘renegade’. He writes, citing several examples, that Kristol’s opposition to Trump risks“splitting the Republican vote”. This, as Horowitz sees it, is Kristol’s real offence as undermining Trump, the argument could hand victory to the Democrats.
In his article he writes “half of world Jewry now lives in Israel, and the enemies whom Obama and Hillary have empowered — Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Hamas — have openly sworn to exterminate the Jews. I am also an American (and an American first), whose country is threatened with destruction by the same enemies. To weaken the only party that stands between the Jews and their annihilation, and between America and the forces intent on destroying her, is a political miscalculation so great and a betrayal so profound as to not be easily forgiven.”
Kristol is unlikely to be chastened by this rebuke. He said of the article: Bill Kristol said of the article: “I haven’t read it, and can’t say I intend to.”