A media scandal around an image tweeted by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump keeps gaining steam as critics blast the candidate for using a six-pointed star, identical to the Jewish Star of David, in an anti-Hillary ad suggesting the Democratic candidate’s financial corruption.
Trump’s original tweet, sent on Saturday from his official Twitter account, featured an image of opponent Hillary Clinton against a backdrop of $100 bills and a red, six-pointed star containing the text, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”
The image immediately drew fire from social media users, who instantly associated the star with the highly-recognizable Jewish star, called the “Magen David” (“Shield of David”) in Hebrew, and pointed out that the positioning of the star on a background of money unavoidably suggested an ages-old anti-Semitic message of Jewish usury.
A Star of David, a pile of cash, and suggestions of corruption. Donald Trump again plays to the white supremacists. https://t.co/sEvSs6zX8P
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 2, 2016
Within two hours, Trump’s campaign deleted the image, replacing it with a revised version in which the star was switched out for a more neutral circle.
However, the move did not kill the media uproar. On Sunday, Mic News reported that the meme was actually from a neo-Nazi web forum, called /pol/, which Mic described as “an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists”. The image had been posted on June 22, well before Trump tweeted it.
Clinton’s campaign strongly condemned the ad, saying that the use of “blatantly anti-Semitic image from racist websites to promote [Trump’s] campaign” was “part of a pattern [that] should give voters major cause for concern.”
Trump called the criticism “false attacks” and said that Clinton’s attempt “to link the Star of David with a basic star” was “ridiculous”.
He insisted that the star was actually a sheriff’s star, not a Jewish star.
Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2016
But this claim received some Twitter blowback as well.
Pretty cool that Israel honored the American frontier spirit by putting a sheriff’s badge on their flag! https://t.co/PU9yAoRoX7
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 4, 2016
Trump flacks say star of David was a “sheriff’s badge.” Right! So in 1942, Hitler just appointed all the European Jews as deputy sheriffs…
— Joe Conason (@JoeConason) July 4, 2016
Trump’s social media director, Daniel Scavino, added his defense on Monday, saying that he had not found the image on an anti-Semitic website.
“The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site…It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear,” he said.
Jewish leaders were not convinced.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in response that the image was “the classic trope of Jews and money implying that she’s raising Jewish money”, the Times of Israel reported.
“I get tweeted pictures like this all the time from anti-Semites and racists and white supremacists,” he added.
Greenblatt called on Trump to “stop playing the blame game and accept that his campaign tweeted an image with obvious anti-Semitic overtones.”