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RFK Jr. Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt On Antisemitism Accusations

RFK Jr. Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt On Antisemitism Accusations

Since RFK Jr. announced his intention to run for Democratic presidential nominee, he’s been a target of several smear campaigns, some involving accusations of antisemitism.

RFK Jr.’s reputation as a friend of Jews is not limited to his marriage to Larry David’s co-star Cheryl Hines. His decades-old ties to the Jewish community and support of Israel are indisputable. It’s worth mentioning that his late father, Senator Robert F Kennedy, was assassinated by the Palestinian terrorist Sirhan Sirhan in 1968.

Since RFK Jr. announced his intention to run for Democratic presidential nominee, he’s been a target of several smear campaigns, some involving accusations of antisemitism. The Kennedy scion has been in the public eye all his life, but the charges against him amount to the following.

During the COVID closures, he compared Americans confined to their homes by health bureaucracies to the fate of Ann Frank. Although pandemic restrictions were nothing like the Holocaust, at the time many libertarian-minded Americans used the Holocaust as the example of the ultimate evil to warn about the expanding power of the state. RFK, who later apologized, was wrong to use this analogy.

Then there is guilt by association — his friendship with antisemites Ice Cube, Louis Farrakhan and Roger Wagers raised eyebrows. The Democrat presidential hopeful defended Waters’s bigoted performances, but walked back his words when he learned of musician’s Jew hate and deleted a tweet praising him.

That leaves us with the video from July 15 in which RFK discussed the origin of COVID. Headlines in major media made the charges clear. The New York Times: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Airs Bigoted New Conspiracy Theory about Jews and Chinese. Forbes: Democrats Revolt Against RFK Jr. Over ‘Reprehensible Anti-Semitic And Anti-Asian Comments’. The Atlantic: The Most Shocking Aspect of RFK Jr.’s Antisemitism. Family members condemned the man and the White House chimed in, calling the comments “vile” and “false”. But what did he say?

The full clip, embedded on New York Post under another inflammatory headline, the short monologue described a biological arms race between the US and China (my transcription):

And when you talk about bioweapons… I know a lot now about bioweapons because I’ve read [a lot of books on it] in two and a half years and, you know, technology that we now have to develop these microbes, we’ve put hundreds of millions of dollars into these ethnically targeted microbes. The Chinese have done the same thing. In fact, COVID-19, there is an argument that it’s ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionally. The races that are most immune to COVID-19 are… because of the structure… the genetic structure… genetic differentials among different races of the receptors… of the H2 receptor… COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. And we don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not, but there are papers out that show genetic and racial differential of the impact of that. We do know that the Chinese are spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing ethnic bioweapons and that we are developing ethnic bioweapons and all those labs in Ukraine are about collecting Russian DNA. They are collecting Chinese DNA so we can target people by race.

RFK Jr. didn’t argue causality in the original video and certainly didn’t say that Jews are behind the illness. He made an observation that COVID affects ethnic groups unequally and that China is known to be developing of genetically targeted bio weapons. The idea that China might be engineering bioweapons to kill Americans and that COVID might have been such germ is not new. The addition of Ashkenazim, based on the findings of a single study, is. Nevertheless, as Kennedy cited that study explaining his reasoning.

Antisemitic conspiracy theories connected Jews to plagues since at least the time of the Black Death when imaginary Jewish sorcerers were accused of conjuring up the deadly malady. In the case of COVID, some antisemites accused Haredim who refused to abide by pandemic measures of spreading the bug while other Jew-haters looked for Jewish names in public health departments to blame for imposing a one-world government regime. RFK Jr.’s words could be understood as antisemitic if uttered by a person predisposed against Jews, but RFK deserves the benefit of the doubt.

The latest Kennedy to enter politics does dab in conspiracy theories. In his book Conspiracy: The Power of the Paranoid Style in History, Daniel Pipes drew a distinction between conspiracies and conspiracy theories. Conspiracies exist, and they involve all sorts of peoples. For instance, the Bolshevik revolution was a conspiracy — in the midst of the First World War, the German government sent the Marxist exile Vladimir Lenin back to Russia in a sealed train car to stir up some trouble. By contrast, conspiracy theories are often fantastic and frequently involve Jews.

Pipes’s book came out in 1997, when the US was comparatively less paranoid. Lots of trust and goodwill was lost during the COVID closures in particular both because of the physical and intellectuals restrains enacted by the government. At the time, people were kicked off social media for speculating that the virus was developed in the lab in Wuhan. Today, every conspiracy theorists feel redeemed.

In recent years, conspiratorial thinking is replacing serious scholarship, for instance, Project 1619 by Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize. Allen C. Guelzo described the unsubstantiated speculation that America was founded to protect slavery as a conspiracy theory. The same corporations and politicians who suppress legitimate stories promote conspiratorial thinking they find expedient. The mixture of secrecy and ignorance is not conducive to a liberal society free from antisemitism.

The Jew hate that’s penetrating American institutions has little to do with RFK Jr. He’s a celebrity running a doomed presidential campaign as a populist maverick. He got attention as a vocal opponent  of pandemic closures and remained popular with certain anti-establishment types for his critical views of the Ukraine war and the endorsement of conspiracy theories. I tend to agree with the self-styled politico on both the closures and Ukraine but little else.

The most important aspect of RFK’s notoriety is that he is so out of line with the Democrat Party that the Kennedy family was quick to disown his comments and his politics. His enormous fortune and significant influence notwithstanding, at this point he is more of a one-man operation, not a movement and he doesn’t stand a chance in the tightly controlled democratic primaries.

Yet antisemitism flourishes in Democrat institutions. In recent remarks “Squad” member Representative Pramila Jayapal called Israel a “racist state”. Her comrade Rashida Tlaib called it an “apartheid state” and the AOC, who previously admitted that she’s “not an expert” on Israel voted against the resolution in support of the Jewish state. All three are Berniecrat superstars and it was recently revealed that George and Alexander Soros are maxed out Jayapal donors. The Squad members have long, high profile careers ahead of them.

Discarding friends who’d said something awkward does little to combat antisemitism. Focusing on antisemites embedded in American institutions is a better use of time. And as far as conspiracies go, journalists should be encouraged to peruse legitimate topics of inquiry because when they don’t, there will develop an environment in which conspiracy theories flourish.


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E Howard Hunt | July 27, 2023 at 7:06 am

An accusation of antisemitism is akin to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit- an unforgivable sin.

If he was anti-Semitic he will have plenty of company from within the Democrat ranks.

However, given it is the left calling him a Jew race hater then Ill just take that with a pinch of salt given who makes up the Democrat party membership.

    Tiki in reply to mailman. | July 27, 2023 at 1:40 pm

    In four short weeks we’ve gone from “we’re only using F-RFK Jr. as stalking horse and bludgeon on the democrat party,” to “we must give F-RFK Jr. the benefit of the doubt.” There’s been a marked increase in this sort of buffoonery. This isn’t a silly political game, we’re at the precipice staring into the cultural abyss.

    How Come My Dog Don’t Bark (When You Come Around?)

nordic prince | July 27, 2023 at 7:46 am

Flinging about the term “conspiracy theory” is meant to shut down critical thinking and derail rational discourse.

If your opponent is a “conspiracy theorist,” then you don’t have to do the hard work of dealing with actual facts and arguments, and can sit all day lobbing ad hominems against him. It’s the lazy man’s go-to rhetorical device.

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to nordic prince. | July 27, 2023 at 2:31 pm

    There are real conspiracy theories, like Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Or even the UFO’s on which we recently had congressional hearings.

When I hear people called racist, antisemite, or what ever, by the Left my brain filters it such that all I hear is “Blah, blah, blah”. The Left are simply people who project everything. They can steal you blind only to call you a thief for thinking you, with no proof, inadvertently took a pen home from while crying crocodile tears about the unfairness of receiving a diversion sentence after being found guilty of first degree murder.

As long as he’s a threat to their pedophile, the communists will go after him

Everybody deserves the benefit of the doubt on antisemitism charges. It’s a recreational outrage charge.

It’s racism for smart people.

    Sorry, antisemtism isn’t “racism for smart people.” It’s bigotry plain and simple, way out of proportion and fueled by ignorance and outright hatred against a tiny group of humans that have perservered and thrived in spite of it.

    And not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Jayapal?

      Rnhardin and I will often disagree, but notice he (she?) said “antisemitism charges”. Simply being charged with antisemitism doesn’t make one an antisemite. It’s adolescent namecalling and nothing more.

        No. It’s not “adolescent namecalling.” Sounds a lot like “racism for smart people.”

        Charges are more often on target than not, and more often dismissed outright as a shield no matter the behavior.

      The point of recreational outrage is identifying somebody else as stupid and ignorant. Look at the left’s devils, e.g. MAGA, for an easy-to-spot pattern.

        Yes, but charges of antisemitism are not generally recreational outrage, even when dismissed as such.

          I’d say all the time. Jabes has a nice example what actual antisemitism looks like, for comparison

          Car beams light up the front of a building. (In which street? There are so many behind and before him that he cannot remember.) He reads: MORT AUX JUIFS JEWS GO HOME scrawled in white chalk, in caps. In which street? In several streets. On several walls. He tried to decipher all the graffiti. He read and reread MORT AUX JUIFS at each halt, at each corner, at the same corner, at each halt. All he saw any more were those three words on the walls. (Perhaps they did not even exist – I mean, for the other passers-by). All he saw any more were those twelve letters, transparent, on the glass pane of his memory. There have been sirens tracing an arch of anguish into the slithery air. There have been shells exploding around a man and in his flesh. There has been many an exodus on land and on sea, with solitary return to pillaged rooms or to the heart of a soul long put to other uses. There have been graveyards, with grass over them, vast fields. The flowers are in cahoots. They have fed on bones and on bone thoughts. Their perfume is perjured. “My God,” he murmurs. “The hands of the years show always the same hour.”

          (Book of Questions p.52)

          All the time? Trivializing the issue is not much different than claiming that allegations are always manufactured.

          A good screen for antisemites to hide behind.

I love his stance on drug company’s, vaccines, Fauci, free speech and cleaning up the waterways….

But he has a God awful personal life of HEAVY drugs use, womanizing, and being an asshole…

I get the Camelot people are trying to reinvent that never was, and I don’t really know if he’s an antisemite, I don’t think what he said really came close to that. He was explaining how the virus affected certain populations and we know that to be true and we also know the USA is experimenting on the same thing

He is a Climate alarmist and stated we those that don’t believe it belong in jail

Hmm, very constitutional statement I’d say.

Amd don’t believe him, he will take your guns

No one and I mean no one is asking him the relevant questions.

Re: Your headline: RFK Jr. Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt On Antisemitism Accusations

I see no reason to RFK deserves any benefit of the doubt.

Nothing he has said shows any hatred towards Jews.

He merely is stating facts that the left jump to irrational conclusions.

So Chinese and some Jewish people are less likely to get Covid.

This is a fact and it is good to know this fact about Covid.

This reminds me of the 1980’s when it was politically incorrect to say that homosexual males were more likely to get aids.

    ThePrimordialOrderedPair in reply to ParkRidgeIL. | July 27, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    This reminds me of the 1980’s when it was politically incorrect to say that homosexual males were more likely to get aids.

    Yeah … that was a classic. If you said that aids was a gay disease you were a bigot but if you refused to fund aids research with 10 times the money of any other disease then you were a anti-gay bigot.

    And they really tried to push the idea that aids was going to be a heterosexual disease – Fauci was a the big name pushing that junk on the public. Meanwhile, they couldn’t explain why Times Square hookers weren’t dropping dead from aids all over the place, so they just ignored it.

Kennedy has a name. Otherwise, he is not a serious candidate but he is useful. He demonstrates that many Democrats are ready to abandon the senile mediocrity who occupies the WH. The way they abuse him illustrates how contemptible their party has become. Truth in their minds equals whatever furthers their agenda and keeps them in power.

You can read the study here:

The study itself, could be seized upon by anti-semites who would say: “COVID is a Jewish plot. The proof, they’re less susceptible to it.”

RFK, Jr. was, in fact, uncritically repeating a claim: “In fact, COVID-19, there is an argument that it’s ethnically targeted.” He then expressly states, “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people.” He then states (bracketed notes mine): “The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews [known conspiracists for centuries] and Chinese [well, of course, one does not spread around the world a disease to which one would be susceptible].” Note that RFK, Jr. mentioned the Jews before the Chinese.

So, perhaps RFK, Jr. was, in what he claims was an “off-the-record conversation” (see the tweet to which Katya linked), actually indicating his true feelings.

By the way, in the study that was on his mind, each time “Jew” is mentioned, so is “Amish.”

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to Ira. | July 30, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    He *could* or he could not. There is not much to go on to describe RFK Jr. as antisemitic. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | July 27, 2023 at 12:09 pm

I am no fan of RFK, Jr, at all, but he said nothing “antisemitic”. This is just the rest of the dirtbag left lying in order to destroy some target of their insane and boundless ire … again. This is no different when these same lowlifes tried to start their idiotic bleatings about “Asian hate”, when the Wuhan virus was hitting, in order to kneecap conservatives. THey had to give that up when it turned out the only ones who were expressing and acting on real hate of Orientals was the left, itself, in keeping them out of their beloved Ivies, along with the left’s shock troops of urban blacks who had a penchant for beating the snot out of defenseless Oriental women on the street.

It all goes back to the main rule of modern public discourse – anything the left says is a complete lie always fabricated with the worst motivations and usually a straightforward projection.

Bruce Hayden | July 27, 2023 at 12:45 pm

By now, almost all antisemitism is on the left in this country. More right wing Christian theology has come full circle, celebrating the Jewish origins of our Christian faith. Rev Gov Hucklebee is o

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to Bruce Hayden. | July 27, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    Right wing antisemitism exists, though it’s not as casual and fashionable as left wing antisemitism.

I was well aware of the article RFK Jr. cited, long before this interview. He summarized it fairly. He made no accusations whatsoever that Jews had done anything at all wrong — that came from our non-readers in the Democrat-controlled media.

Those who think that Donald Trump is somehow especially awful or polarizing should take note how the Democrats are treating RFK Jr. If the Democrat-controlled media gets a signal to tear a person apart, they’ll do it, and think of a reason, later.

    CommoChief in reply to Valerie. | July 27, 2023 at 1:32 pm

    Sure will, it is their favorite play. Though it is harder for them to execute their playbook if one hasn’t made statements that can arguably be called an example of ‘ist/ism/phobe’.

    Not that the absence of these statements will preclude these sorts of attacks, far from it. Just that the attackers have to go to the trouble of manufacturing them by use of twisted language/bad faith interpretations and selective editing v simply quoting someone’s own words.

      retiredcantbefired in reply to CommoChief. | July 27, 2023 at 4:06 pm

      They don’t need much to work with.

      Look at the alleged racism they extracted from less than one full line in the new Florida curriculum regarding slavery and its history in this country.

        CommoChief in reply to retiredcantbefired. | July 27, 2023 at 6:40 pm

        No they don’t need much, or anything really. As I explained they will make stuff up. However, when they are forced to make stuff up or apply a tortured interpretation to something benign to try and create the charge of ‘ist, ism, phobe’ those charges are more easily disproved.

        The broad public has begun to notice the pattern and Covid + Twitter files have given everyday folks a peek behind the curtain. Now when the lapdog legacy media peddles some BS story about X is and ‘ist’ most people are aware of the 72 hour rule of wait and see what else comes out to either boost or reduce the credibility of the claims. See Jussie Smollett.

    retiredcantbefired in reply to Valerie. | July 27, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    RFK, Jr. did summarize the article fairly—although even he did not stress that the conclusions in the article, about susceptibility to attack by the Wuhan virus version 1.0, needed backup from studies that have, apparently, still not been conducted (and that would be extremely difficult to conduct, given official statistics from, say, the United States, that are largely tilted in one direction and statistics from, say, China, that are massively tilted in the opposite direction.

    I am not sure whether any of the writers at this site still fully understand the origin of these charges against RFK, Jr. Two articles in the New York Post (does the Post now qualify as Left-wing media?—that may depend on who you ask). Article 1 on page 6 with the other sleazy gossip. Article 2 teeing off from Article 1, with reliable sources lined up to deplore what some writer for the Post just told them RFK, Jr. had said.

    Has anyone who participates here, besides Valerie, read the article that RFK, Jr., cited? I didn’t have a chance to read it until I had already witnessed a writer for this site promoting the line that RFK, Jr., hated Jews—and had to give myself much additional time to get the disappointment and disgust out of my system.

    In any event, that writer quickly retracted her promotion for the smear in question. But it is not clear how many others here still accept the smear, or ardently wish it to be true. This particular matter (what RFK, Jr., talked about at some Italian restaurant in Manhattan on July 14, 2023) is *not* one for which RFK, Jr., needs the benefit of the doubt. (If he needs the benefit of the doubt regarding some other thing he said or did, let’s hear about *that* thing instead of this one.)

    I have seen multiple pieces from outlets not identified with the American Left in which the veracity of the New York Post’s recent smear is still being taken for granted. At a minimum, any such piece is the work of someone way too lazy to track down the origin for the smear, or to address the first plausible counter to it.

    You don’t RFK, Jr.—then join the queue. And provide an argument for your position, instead of recirculating what the New York Post ran one day, very likely on direct orders from Rupert Murdoch.

You did not explain away Farrakhan. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this is a big one.

    retiredcantbefired in reply to IsraelP. | July 28, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    What connections has RFK, Jr. had with the Rev. Farrakhan and the NOI?

    What has he said to them/in front of them?

    Without that information, who knows whether he needs the benefit of the doubt, or deserves it if he needs it?

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to IsraelP. | July 30, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    He’s known to have some hardcore antisemites in his circle of friends. I have no explanation for that.

RFK Jr. has been in the public eye all his life and has to be held responsible for knowing who is who and what his words may be taken to imply. He cannot claim not to know that the people whom he praised and with whom he associates are not known antisemites; if he really was as clueless as that would indicate, there may be a lot more that a President needs to know and understand and treat with the appropriate care that he does not know or understand. And it is not one faux pas; he gets embroiled in this over and over.

    retiredcantbefired in reply to RRRR. | July 28, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Well, one thing Donald Trump has learned, and RFK, Jr., has not:

    Stay away from anyone who writes for p. 6 of the New York Post.