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Rantz: Mayor Durkan finally condemns anti-Semitism in Seattle Council race

Former Seattle City Council candidate Ari Hoffman and his wife. (Courtesy of Ari Hoffman)

UPDATE: Mayor Durkan issued a statement to AJC Seattle Director Regina Friedland on Tuesday, condemning anti-Semitic attacks:

“I want to thank you for all you do to better Seattle, and to join you to make clear in the strongest possible terms that I condemn and reject any anti-Semitic attacks and threats of violence on Mr. Hoffman and his family,” Mayor Durkan wrote to Friedland. “Any threats, especially those with bias, will be investigated and will not be tolerated in Seattle.”

–Original story–

A high profile Seattle City Council race is being overshadowed by violent, anti-Semitic death threats. And instead of leading, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan refuses to condemn the hate. If the candidate wasn’t an Orthodox Jew, would Mayor Durkan turn a blind eye? That’s what one Jewish advocacy group wonders.

Ari Hoffman is running for Council in District 2. He’s been the victim of the usual nonsense of campaign sign stealing, but now the FBI and SPD are involved after a series of vicious online threats appeared on message board 8chan.

“There are some pretty serious anti-Semitic language using the k-word and a few other things on there, specifically targeting my kids and this is a scary thing,” Hoffman told the Saul Spady Show on KTTH. “This is pretty horrifying.”

The anti-Semitic trolls recommend people “literally kill Ari” and call out his young son, claiming he “literally looks like a anti-Semitic caricature.” Another user says “Jews are the most <expletive> cancerous trash on this planet and anyone who defends them is just as trash.”

In a press release this week, Regina Friedland, regional director of the American Jewish Committee, called on Durkan to condemn the threats. Has the AJC heard back?

“No response,” Friedland tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I want the Mayor’s office to condemn, to outright condemn, these attacks on Ari Hoffman and his family. I’d also expect that from other members of the city council. It’s just it’s not acceptable for their silence.”

I’ve sent three emails, three texts and two phone calls to the Mayor’s office for comment, asking if they planned on releasing a statement. They’ve ignored all of these requests for comments. When they don’t like something I broadcast or publish, I get a series of critical emails. When it comes to condemning anti-Semitism, I’m ghosted.

Friedland thinks this wouldn’t be ignored if it was another protected class being threatened and harassed.

“I think if it happened to someone of any of the quote ‘other [protected] groups’, I think that, yeah, Mayor Durkan herself, with a local [TV] station crew, would have probably been at the door offering their support and comfort and everything else,” Friedland said. “What would the reaction be if this was said about a gay candidate, a Muslim candidate, an African-American candidate? What would happen?”

When it comes to condemning Trump, Durkan is quick to act. On Twitter, Durkan “condemned in the strongest possible terms” Trump’s family separation. She went on to “condemn” Trump for his “irresponsible rhetoric meant to tap into fear & hate.” She signed a letter to Jeff Sessions “to condemn his rollback of the Cole Memo.” Then she called out the “hate” coming from a Christian baker, stood with Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta after he personally dealt with an act of racism, and stood with trans and non-binary neighbors against hate and discrimination.

It’s not like she hasn’t called out anti-Semitism before, so why the silence with Hoffman?

“He doesn’t get the same privilege, if you want to call it that — he’s considered in a different category… You know, he’s a conservative,” Friedland explained.

Anti-Semitism on the rise

Locally, we’ve seen a rise in anti-Semitism. Some of it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel, and other incidents are more direct. What’s worse, given the context of the threats leveled against Hoffman, we’ve seen two recent high profile arrests of anti-Semites using online threats to target Jews.

Dakota Reed, a 20 year old from Monroe, was charged in a plot to murder scores of Jews. The FBI was tipped off about a series of hateful social media allegedly by Reed about murdering Jews in a synagogue.

“I’ve been around some Jews in my life,” Reed said, according to the Herald. “There’s a community here in Washington. They’ve done things as far as to — um. Maybe it wasn’t too personal, but I’ve had them lie to me, I’ve had them, um, I guess, well, this one probably wasn’t their fault, but I’ve had girls like them over me.

Chase Bliss Colasurdo, a 27 year old from Kent, was arrested in May for threats against KTTH host Ben Shapiro. The Department of Justice said Colasurdo is accused of making “extremely serious” online threats against Shapiro and his family. When investigators searched his home, detectives found night vision goggles, a gas mask, a Nazi flag with a swastika, and a framed picture of Adolf Hitler.

For Hoffman, while the investigation continues, he’s being offered police protection at events. When Durkan decides condemning anti-Semitic threats against a conservative Jewish council candidate is worth it — especially since she may soon have to work with him — I’ll update this story.

UPDATE: State Senator Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) has released a statement condemning the threats. On Facebook he writes: “As an elected public official who is also Jewish, I feel an obligation to stand with the American Jewish Committee and condemn the anti-Semitic sentiments expressed toward Seattle city council candidate Ari Hoffman. Even though he can be controversial at times, regardless of politics or policy, Ari has a right to safe civic engagement free of this vitriol.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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