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Politico takes aim at Bernie Sanders—Was illustration anti-Semitism ?

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at his campaign rally in Fairfield, Iowa, April 6, 2019. Photo courtesy of Scott Olson/Getty Images.

By MARCY OSTER
NEW YORK CITY (JTA)
–The cover story in a recent Politico magazine, about how Jewish presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came to be a millionaire, shows him standing next to a tree sprouting leaves made of money.

Progressives on Twitter, including Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called the illustrations anti-Semitic.

Politico originally tweeted the article under the heading “Bernie Sanders might still be cheap, but he’s sure not poor,” leading to criticism about promulgating the anti-Semitic tropes of both cheap Jews and rich Jews.

Politico later changed the tweet of the article to read: “Bernie Sanders has three homes and a net worth approaching at least $2 million. In a strict, bottom-line sense, he has become one of those rich people against whom he has so unrelentingly railed.” The tweet included the explanation that: “For the record: This replaces a deleted tweet that needed more context. Our apologies.”

Ocasio-Cortez also used the opportunity to slam the right-wing for explaining away the Politico article and tweets, “yet when Ilhan’s words are taken out of context, they are the 1st to jump on her. Look at how these accusations are selectively enforced on the left, esp when it’s the *alt-right* actually committing anti-Semitic violence in the U.S.”

Ocasio-Cortez is referring to the backlash against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota who was criticized for tweeting: “It’s about the Benjamins, baby,” when referring to the influence of AIPAC on U.S. lawmakers, among other controversial social media posts.

“Can @politico explain to us how photoshopping money trees next to the only Jewish candidate for president and talking about how “cheap” and rich he is *isn’t* anti-Semitic? Or are they just letting this happen because he’s a progressive politician they don’t like,” she first tweeted, and included a screenshot of Politico’s since-deleted tweet.

The Anti-Defamation League criticized the magazine, tweeting: “In this dangerous climate of rising #anti-Semitism, all media organizations have a responsibility to be careful not to perpetuate #anti-Semitic tropes, such as those about Jews and wealth.”

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