Liberals' Anti-Semitic Attacks on Steven Menashi Latest Politics of Personal Destruction

Undaunted by the backlash against their personal attacks on Catholic nominees for their religious faith, Democrats and their liberal allies are attacking President Trump's new nominee for the Second Circuit, Steven Menashi, for being...a Jew who defends Israel.  

Mr. Menashi is extremely well-qualified to serve as a judge, having distinguished himself in both private practice and public service.  He has an extensive portfolio of legal writings which demonstrate his commitment to the rule of law and interpreting the text of statutes and regulations as written. That is part of why liberals are so committed to destroying him at any cost.  The other reason is that the seat on the Second Circuit to which he has been nominated is by tradition assigned to New York, although the circuit covers much more than New York.   While they were consulted, neither Minority Leader Chuck Schumer nor 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand did not get to choose.

Ed Whelan describes how Rachel Maddow distorted a 2010 law review article by Mr. Menashi in an attempt to smear him as a racist:

In a lengthy segment on MSNBC last night, Rachel Maddow grossly distorts Menashi’s argument and tries to twist it into “a high-brow argument for racial purity.” (Video at 9:00-9:36.) She falsely claims that Menashi argues “how definitely democracy can’t work unless the country is defined by a unifying race.” (Video at 6:57-7:10.)

But Menashi’s argument about national identity is clearly not about “racial purity” or a “unifying race.” Indeed, the fact that Israelis from Ethiopia are black makes it impossible to take seriously the claim that Menashi is making a case for “racial purity.” Menashi further states that it “is not even clear … that Israel’s national identity can even be described as ‘ethnic’” (in a narrow sense of that concept), as Israeli Jews come from “Argentina, Ethiopia, Germany, Morocco, Russia, and Yemen.”

What actually fosters “ethnonationalism”—what makes a population regard itself as a nation, what gives rise to national self-consciousness—is a complicated matter that is far beyond Menashi’s inquiry. He quotes at length from an International Commission of Jurists that explored whether the people of what is now Bangladesh constituted a distinct “people.” That commission’s discussion, which Menashi clearly finds intelligent, cites multiple elements—historical, racial or ethnic, cultural or linguistic, religious or ideological, geographical or territorial, economic—that might bear on whether a “particular group constitutes a people,” but it also states that none of those elements is “either essential or sufficiently conclusive.”

Carrie Severino further points out that in her haste to attack a nominee from President Trump, Ms. Maddow not only completely ignored the larger complicated and ongoing debates over what constitutes a national identity and Israel's legitimacy, she mischaracterized Mr. Menashi's contribution to those debates so as to equate defending Israel with racism and white supremacy:

Maddow completely ignores the context of Menashi’s article, which was a defense of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish homeland. In fact, her extended discussion of the article does not once mention Israel or the persecution of Jews that played a central role in the establishment of Israel. To add insult to injury, she even began her segment by defining the “ethnonationalism” Menashi wrote about with reference to “white nationalism, which is the new branding that domestic terrorists are using in this country for white supremacy.” . . .

It might not be surprising that the Republican Jewish Coalition is among the numerous critics who have called out Maddow for her defamation. But the reasons for doing so transcend politics. Menashi is himself of Middle Eastern ancestry, with Jewish grandparents who made their way from Iraq to Iran before finding their home in Israel. His grandmother survived a violent pogrom in Baghdad, and his in-laws are Soviet Jewish refugees who emigrated to the United States. Of course, you would have heard none of this background from Maddow, who baselessly claimed that Menashi’s definition of “national community” is “everybody having the same ethnicity.”

A question remains for Maddow: Is her commentary the product of intellectual dishonesty alone, or does she sincerely believe Israel deserves to be associated with the white supremacy of domestic terrorists?

Ms. Severino's question is worth remembering as other Democrats and liberals parrot Ms. Maddow's attacks.

Sadly, this is just the latest instance demonstrating how anti-Semitism has become mainstream in the Democratic Party, but it is nothing new in the liberal playbook for fighting President Trump's excellent judicial nominees: 1. mischaracterize their writings, experience, and judicial philosophy; 2. refuse to discuss or debate issues of statutory interpretation, the rule of law, the role of the courts, application of precedent, etc., that would actually be relevant to their position as a judge; and 3. smear them as a racist, homophobe, enemy of the little people, someone who wants truckers to die, etc.  

Mr. Menashi is only the latest victim of these tactics of personal destruction, but there is hope: the American people want judges who respect the law and will not legislate from the bench.  Republicans in the Senate are committed to confirming judges in that mold, like Mr. Menashi.