(JTA) — The Minnesota Republican Party apologized for screening a video that depicted liberal Jewish billionaire George Soros as a puppet master controlling two Jewish Democrats, saying that those responsible were not aware that the imagery had antisemitic connotations.
“We understand that the use of imagery depicting Mr. Soros as a puppet-master at our state convention raised concerns that the imagery perpetuated an antisemitic trope,” state GOP chairman David Hann said Thursday in a statement, noting that the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas had contacted them after the video screened.
“We wish to assure the JCRC and our friends in the broader Jewish community that the image was not intended to invoke hostility toward the Jewish people,” Hann said. “It should not have happened, we apologize, and are committed to working with the JCRC to educate our staff and candidates on antisemitism.”
In a promotional video for her campaign, Kim Crockett, a Republican candidate for Minnesota’s secretary of state, depicted the Jewish Democratic incumbent and another Jewish elections lawyer as being controlled by Soros. It screened last weekend at the state party convention.
“I have concluded after talking with Ms. Crockett that the depiction of Mr. Soros was not intended as antisemitic, and that neither Ms. Crockett nor her creative team were aware that the depiction of a puppet-master invokes an old but persistent antisemitic trope,” Hann said.
JCRC director Steve Hunegs condemned the screening in an op-ed in the local newspaper, the Star-Tribune, and in a statement. He thanked Hann and his counterpart in the Democratic Party for accepting his offer to train their parties and campaigns on antisemitism.
“We have come to appreciate … that antisemitism does not always manifest itself as a hatred and is sometimes more an issue of blind spot,” Hunegs said.
The man charged with killing 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo last weekend reportedly cited Soros in a “manifesto” posted online outlining his views, saying the billionaire is “majorly responsible for the destruction of our White culture.”
The initial GOP reaction to complaints about the video, made to Axios, was to condemn Democrats and their “unapologetic embrace of radicals,” while trumpeting the Republican Party’s support for Israel.
Steve Simon, the incumbent Jewish secretary of state targeted in the video, told a local Jewish news outlet, TC Jewfolk, that the video was “bizarre” and “disturbing.”
“This is the kind of thing you see from extremist social media trolls, not from serious people running for a serious office,” Simon said.
Crockett herself sent an email to supporters Friday with the subject line “Media smears and communist tears,” in which she did not address the video or the apology directly but said that she was the victim of “contrived and bogus political attacks,” adding, “The media is not our friend as Republicans.”
She included a photo of herself at a lake holding a book by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.