Politico ripped for ‘anti-Semitic’ illustration of Sanders, who is Jewish, with ‘money tree’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has blasted Politico for using anti-Semitic tropes in its scathing profiling of Bernie Sanders. In a piece focused on his ‘wealth’, the presidential hopeful is put next to a ‘money tree.’

The Friday cover of the Politico Magazine is graced by the image of Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish candidate in the packed Democratic presidential race, standing against a backdrop of a tree with dollar bills instead of leaves and a luxury mansion. The article, titled“The Secret of Bernie’s Millions” contrasts Sanders’ socialist inclinations against him being “a three-home-owning millionaire with a net worth approaching at least $2 million.”

Politico’s Michael Kruse does not pull any punches in his review of Sanders’ political career, with colorful passages like “The champion of the underclass and castigator of “the 1 percent” has found himself in the socioeconomic penthouse of his rhetorical bogeymen.” He describes Sanders’ 2016 presidential run, effectively hijacked by the Clinton camp in brace with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), as “the most lucrative thing he’s ever done.”

It is not the bashing of their preferred candidate alone that sparked progressive activists’ outrage, but the way the imagery used by Politico reinforced anti-Semitic stereotypes related to Jews and money.

In a now-deleted tweet, Politico wrote: “Bernie Sanders might still be cheap, but he’s sure not poor” accompanying it with a photo of Sanders with two houses on his shoulders and one in his hand.

Another tweet, now redacted, read: “Bernie Sanders has become one of those rich people against which he has so unrelentingly railed,” with an illustration showing Sanders flanked by the ‘money tree.’

AOC, who has emerged as the voice leading the backlash against Politico, asked the magazine to explain how “talking about how “cheap’ and rich he is” and photoshopping a ‘money tree’ next to him was not an act of anti-Semitism.

“Or are they just letting this happen because he’s a progressive politician they don’t like?” 

She pointed out that the establishment and media had been quick to disown Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) when she complained of the overreaching role the Israeli lobby plays in US politics.

“Look at how these accusations are selectively enforced on the left, esp when it’s the *alt-right* actually committing antisemitic violence in the US,” she tweeted.

Omar has been ostracized by the Washington political establishment, including the leadership of both parties, accused of using an “anti-Semitic trope” with her remark that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been paying American politicians to champion Israel’s interests. Omar was pressured into apologizing, but maintained that her criticism was directed at the Israeli government’s policy and was not meant to feed into hatred against Jews. “Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic,” she insisted in March.

While Omar has faced a major backlash for her remark, Politico seems to be getting a pass, some pointed out on Twitter.

“I find both Politico’s illustration of the Sanders piece and Omar’s comments about dual loyalty concerning. But to slam one as anti-Semitic while claiming the other was just “taken out of context” reeks of bad faith,” one commentator wrote.

Sanders’ fellow Democrats, House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have so far been mum on the controversy.

Despite the widespread outcry, Politico did not apologize, instead making cosmetic changes to the wording of one tweet, that now reads: “In a strict, bottom-line sense, he has become one of those rich people against whom he has so unrelentingly railed” and deleting the other tweet altogether. The magazine said that its message just “needed more context.”

Many were dissatisfied with the lack of repentance from Politico, which decided to keep the ‘money tree’ cover as well.

Sanders’s chief of staff, Ari Rabin-Havt, accuseding the magazine of anti-Semitism, argueng that what it put out in the end was not any “better.”

As it is typical in Twitter wars, Ocasio-Cortez was also taken to task for her supposedly unconditional support of fellow freshman Democratic lawmakers, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan).

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