NEW YORK (JTA) — Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is being criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for remarks on Jews and the banking industry.
During a Jan. 20 broadcast following Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, Limbaugh wondered if Jews — nearly 80 percent of whom backed Barack Obama in 2008 — were having second thoughts about the president.
"There are a lot of people, when you say banker, people think Jewish. People who have prejudice, people who have, you know — what’s the best way to say — a little prejudice about them," Limbaugh said, according to the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters. "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 — if there’s starting to be some buyer’s remorse there."
The comment drew a rebuke from the ADL.
"Limbaugh’s references to Jews and money in a discussion of Massachusetts politics were offensive and inappropriate," said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman. "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. When he comes to understand why his words were so offensive and unacceptable, Limbaugh should apologize."
Media Matters initially failed to note that Limbaugh had started out by saying that it was "people who have prejudice" who equate Jews and bankers.
Norman Podhoretz, the author of "Why Are Jews Liberals?" — the book Limbaugh was describing and agreeing with when he made his remarks — defended Limbaugh in a statement that appears on Limbaugh’s Web site.
Limbaugh "pointed to the undeniable fact that for ‘a lot of people’ — prejudiced people, as he called them twice — the words ‘banker’ and ‘Wall Street’ are code words for ‘Jewish,’" Podhoretz wrote, adding later that Foxman had committed a "vile attack" on Limbaugh.