Ron DeSantis ally David Horowitz on Monday blamed the toxic political culture that led to Saturday’s massacre inside a Pittsburgh synagogue on the synagogue’s former president.
Horowitz, a Jew and conservative author whose anti-Muslim and racist rhetoric has been problematic for DeSantis in his campaign for governor of Florida, said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that the former Tree of Life synagogue president, Lynette Lederman, was more to blame than President Donald Trump.
“The hate against Trump dwarfs anything that you could say that Trump — Trump is kind of actually funny in his attacks and light-hearted and everybody understands what he’s doing,” Horowitz said, as first noted by Media Matters for America.
He then turned to Lederman, whom Ingraham and Horowitz misidentified as a former rabbi. “The hate is coming from people like this rabbi who insist on demonizing the president of the United States,” he said.
After the White House announced Monday that Trump would travel to Pittsburgh to visit with victims of the massacre, Lederman told CNN that, as far as she was concerned, he wasn’t welcome.
“We have people who stand by us, who believe in values — not just Jewish — but believe in values, and those are not the values of this president and I do not welcome him to Pittsburgh,” she said, calling Trump a “purveyor of hate speech.”
Eleven people — ranging in age from 54 to 97 — were murdered during Shabbat service at Tree of Life on Saturday morning.
Federal prosecutors charged Robert Bowers, 46, with 29 counts, including 11 counts of murder. According to The New York Times, Bowers told a SWAT officer at the scene that he “wanted all Jews to die.”
Political tensions have been high for more than a week, but DeSantis — like Trump — doesn’t appear interested in toning down his rhetoric.
Days after it was reported that police discovered a pipe bomb in the mailbox of the billionaire investor and Democratic funder George Soros, DeSantis warned a crowd at a Baptist church that a Soros-funded conspiracy could take root if he lost, The Daily Beast reported.
“He could be seeding, into our state government, you know, Soros-backed activists,” DeSantis said of his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League denounced the inherent anti-Semitism in Soros conspiracies. (Soros is Jewish.)
“In the United States, Soros long has been a favored target of the so-called alt right and other right-wing extremists,” the ADL posted on Oct. 11. “Their online echo chambers reverberate with conspiracies about Soros, accusing him of attempting to perpetrate ‘white genocide’ and push his own malevolent agenda.”
This wasn’t the first time Horowitz appeared insensitive to his fellow Jews while defending Trump.
In May 2016, he wrote an article labeling conservative author Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew” over his opposition to Trump’s presidential candidacy.
Writers at Slate and the Atlantic noted that Horowitz’s attack on Kristol was helping to normalize anti-Semitism and longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.
Between 2013 and 2017, DeSantis attended four conferences hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, including one in 2017 that prominently featured Gavin McInnes, who has questioned the severity of the Holocaust and whose violent organization the Proud Boys participated in last year’s deadly right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., where members chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”
Several Proud Boys members enthusiastically cheered DeSantis at a rally in Sarasota, Fla., last month, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
The Republican has said he is not responsible for the opinions of his supporters despite previously professing his admiration for Horowitz’s Freedom Center, describing it as “an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing” during his 2015 address to the group.
At a debate Wednesday, DeSantis appeared agitated that he was being asked about the words of Horowitz and another supporter who called former President Barack Obama the N-word.
“How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?” DeSantis said. “I am not going to bow down to the altar of political correctness.”