It's Hard to Tell Who's Anti-Semitic These Days.

Malek.jpgToday, The Washington Post has a blockbuster story about Fred Malek, a Republican super-lawyer who chaired John McCain's presidential campaign and heads up the American Action Network, a new conservative think-tank/communications organization, which we have discussed before. Malek, while a Nixon White House official, had been involved in some shady work carrying out a "program to enforce ideological and religious purity."

While this has been covered before -- he resigned from the RNC in 1988 when these allegations were first revealed -- new memos from the National Archives have revealed the extent of his role and led to new criticism from Democrats. In this regard, he literally made a list of 13 Jewish employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the intent to move "sensitive analytical and interpretive responsibilities" away from them.

Malek has long ago apologized for his involvement in this process, though the new revelations seem to highlight inconsistencies in his past responses -- notably statements saying he would have refused to alter anyone's employment status.

As we look into this further, it's interesting to note the response of Abraham Foxman, the chief decryer of anti-Semitism real and imagined:

In response to the controversy over Malek's appointment in Virginia, Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a recent statement that "I am pleased to call Fred Malek my friend," and that except for his experience compiling a list of Jews for Nixon, "he has no record of being anti-Jewish."

OK, so making a list of Jewish employees for the purposes of enforcing ideological and religious purity is something you can exonerate later. But if you, like Bill Moyers, question the Israeli government's security strategy, that may make you, in Foxman's words, someone who engages in "moral equivalency, racism, historical revisionism, and indifference to terrorism."

While the motivation is clear -- Malek has consistently supported Foxman's conservative political agenda and Moyers has decidedly not -- it does still appear that the standards of anti-Jewish behavior are hard to keep straight.

Update: Turns out that Slate's Tim Noah had already reported on the latest releases from the National Archives a week before the Post, and has in fact been following the story for years, so if you're interested in the full breadth of Nixon's Jew-counting, he's the man for the job. 

-- Tim Fernholz

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