The head of one of the world's most prominent Jewish advocacy groups has accused Rush Limbaugh of making "borderline anti-Semitic comments" by linking Jews to banking.
Discussing the Massachusetts Senate race and President Obama's proposed financial reforms on the Rush Limbaugh Show Wednesday, the controversial commentator said:
To some people, "banker" is code word for Jewish; and guess who Obama is assaulting? He's assaulting bankers. He's assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there?
Limbaugh's invocation of an old stereotype about Jews and their role in banking got the attention of Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
"Rush Limbaugh reached a new low with his borderline anti-Semitic comments about Jews as bankers, their supposed influence on Wall Street, and how they vote," Foxman said in a statement emailed to media on Thursday. Foxman said:
Limbaugh’s references to Jews and money in a discussion of Massachusetts politics were offensive and inappropriate. While the age-old stereotype about Jews and money has a long and sordid history, it also remains one of the main pillars of anti-Semitism and is widely accepted by many Americans. His notion that Jews vote based on their religion, rather than on their interests as Americans, plays into the hands of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.
Foxman added that "Limbaugh should apologize."
Limbaugh "is on uniquely dangerous grounds here," writes M.J. Rosenberg at TalkingPointsMemo. "The 'Jews = Bankers' meme is not that common in this country. It is European, and was put to its most deadly use by Hitler."
Last year, Limbaugh raised eyebrows when he criticized President Obama for bringing up the Holocaust during a visit to Germany. Limbaugh argued that Obama shouldn't be criticizing Germany "for what it did 60 or 65 years ago." That was interpreted by some as demeaning the significance of the Holocaust.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Limbaugh drew the attention of the Jewish community when he said that Jewish Americans' overwhelming support for Obama was the result of "white guilt," among other things.
The following audio was broadcast on The Rush Limbaugh Show, Wednesday January 20, 2010, and uploaded to the Web by MediaMatters.