D.C. officials come under fire for inaction on anti-Semitic remarks
Officials in the nation’s capital have been denounced either for their involvement in anti-Semitic remarks in the recent weeks or for their inaction in condemning those remarks.
In mid-March, Washington Council Member Trayon White claimed in a Facebook video that the Rothschild banking family control the climate to fund their ownership of cities, the Washington Post reports. In later text messages, White expressed surprise that his speech could be considered anti-Semitic and replied that “the video says what it says,” when asked to clarify it later.
White issued an apology to the Jewish community later that day, according to the Post. White later attended a Passover seder, met with Jewish community leaders for breakfast and attended a guided tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to the Associated Press.
White however, left halfway through the museum tour without explaining why, which led to further criticism, according to the Post.
Other details have since emerged concerning similar behavior from White. A video emerged from a February meeting of city officials in which White asked a question based on the claim that the Rothschild family controlled the federal government and the World Bank, the AP reports. Leaders including Mayor Muriel Bowser laughed it off and moved on.
Further criticism followed the revelation that White had contributed $500 from his constituent service fund to a Chicago event during which Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, denounced Jews, the Post reported.
White refused to apologize for his ties to the Nation of Islam in a 36-minute Facebook video posted on April 21, the Post reports.
Five days later on April 26, Washington Housing Authority Commissioner Joshua Lopez organized a “unity rally” to show support for Trayon White (who didn’t attend), WTOP reports. At the event, a speaker called Jewish Washington Council Member Elissa Silverman a “fake Jew” and referred to Jews as “termites.” Silverman, along with several other council members, called on Bowser to fire Lopez.
Criticism culminated earlier that day when Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld interrupted a lawmakers’ meeting on May 1, angrily calling for the council to collectively censure White and to fire Lopez, Washington TV station Fox 5 reports.
While Bowser asked Lopez to apologize, she hadn’t called for his resignation, the Post reports. Moreover, only five council members asked Bowser to fire him. Nevertheless, White resigned later that day, Fox 5 reports.
Immediately following Herzfeld’s condemnatory remarks, Washington Council members held a news conference and denounced hate speech, Fox 5 and the Post report.
"We want to make it clear that the members of the council all of us stand together in condemning that kind of speech," Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said at the conference, per Fox 5.
The Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents in Washington more than doubled in 2017 versus 2015, the Post reports.