(JTA) — Josh Mandel, the Ohio state treasurer seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, defended his criticism of the Anti-Defamation League and accused it of assembling a “hit list” of figures on the right.
“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and as a Marine who defended our freedom, Treasurer Mandel believes the ADL is dead wrong for creating hit lists on American citizens,” according to a statement late Thursday from his campaign spokeswoman. “Of all organizations, the ADL should know that making target lists of people based on their political beliefs is a dangerous practice and slippery slope.”
Last week, Mandel expressed solidarity with figures listed by the ADL as having a “hateful impact” on the political scene, including two figures, blogger Mike Cernovich and filmmaker Jack Posobiec, who promoted the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, where involved in a human trafficking and pedophilia ring out of a Washington, D.C., restaurant.
“I stand with @Cernovich & @JackPosobiec,” Mandel tweeted.
The ADL listed Cernovich and Posobiec as among the “alt-lite” — right-wing figures who do not embrace the white supremacy of the “alt-right,” “but whose hateful impact is more significant than their ‘lite’ name suggests.”
On July 20, Posobiec posted a video taken at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, saying “It would be wise of the ADL to remember the history of what happened the last time people started going around making lists of undesirables.”
An ADL spokesperson responded to criticism of the report on the alt-right and alt-lite by Mandel and others in a statement to JTA last week.
“For more than a century, ADL has been guided by its mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and fight for equal justice for all — not by politics,” according to the statement. “We call out those who preach anti-Semitism and bigotry regardless of their background, party, or standing. Our new report identifies the major figures on the Alt Right and the Alt Lite and explains the differences between the various players in these emerging movements. We stand by our report.”
The ADL regularly issues reports on figures it considers on the political extremes. On July 19, the ADL released a report criticizing the far-left group Jewish Voice for Peace as “radical” and using language “that veers uncomfortably close to age-old anti-Semitic canards.”
Mandel lost in his 2012 bid to unseat the incumbent senator, Sherrod Brown, a Democrat. In a 2008 speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mandel said his grandfather Joseph was the sole member of his immediate family to survive the concentration camps, and that his grandmother Fernanda survived the war by being hidden in the mountains of northern Italy.