Cincinnati Jewish community says West Chester Tea Party spread anti-Semitic rhetoric

WEST CHESTER TWP. — The Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is denouncing the West Chester Tea Party, claiming it spread “vitriolic anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

Council director Rabbi Ari Jun wrote in a Sept. 11 letter that the group hosted a speaker who “disseminated numerous extreme anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” during a meeting at St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church on Sept. 5. The church is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

In his letter, Jun references some of the comments from the speaker and posted on the Tea Party’s social media saying that “Jews: control the media, finance, and politicians; manipulate African Americans; are imposters who have replaced the ‘real Jews’; engage in child sacrifice; and are disloyal to the United States.”

“This instance of antisemitism is probably the worst thing in our region in terms of normalized, hateful, antisemitic rhetoric that I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Jun said. “This is not normal.”

The West Chester Tea Party did not return WCPO requests for comment to their email and Facebook page.

“Focusing on this kind of vitriol against the Jewish community is both untrue and unhelpful,” Jun said.

The Jewish high holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah this week, and Jun said the verbal comments could be physically dangerous. What worries the Jewish community is that they say this is not an isolated incident.

Data from the Anti-Defamation League shows that there were 61 antisemitic incidents in 2022 compared to the prior year, a 22% increase.

“I fear that we are on track for another year of highest recorded antisemitic incidents once again,” ADL Regional Director Kelly Fishman said. “Regardless of party, it’s really disheartening to see anyone pull in someone who espouses such horrific anti-semitic tropes.”

The JCRC said elected Republican leaders have reached out privately to them against the remarks, but the council is hoping they’ll come out publicly against the comments too.

That’s something the Republican party is grappling with nationally,” said UC Associate Professor Kimberly Conger. “Across the board, in the Republican Party right now is an unwillingness to call out certain kinds of problematic behavior or ideas.”

The concern is calling out voters might cause them to lose votes, and “as a whole, it’s really hard for a party to say no to votes,” she said.

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens issued this statement Friday, Sept. 15:

“I strongly condemn the conspiratorial, antisemitic comments at the West Chester Tea Party event. I stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. Moving forward, we must respect one another and improve on the political discourse with our friends and neighbors throughout Ohio.”

However, Conger said the issue is not as widespread as one might think.

“I remain confident that the vast majority of people who call themselves Republicans would find many of the views expressed by that speaker repugnant,” Conger said.

Although this section of the party may be relatively small, Conger said it’s worth noting that these are the messages they are receiving. That’s a concern of Rabbi Jun.

“This is not something that just has no cost attached,” said Jun.

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