Called Out

Iowa Jewish leaders slam Steve King: He’s an ‘enthusiastic crusader’ for racism that inspired Pittsburgh shooter

In an open letter published in the Des Moines Register this Tuesday, two Jewish leaders spoke out against Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King for his continuous promotion of white supremacist ideas and propaganda.

Alan Steckman, president of Adas Israel in Mason City, and John Pleasants, president of the Ames Jewish Congregation, wrote the letter in response to the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Live Synagogue this Saturday that left 11 people dead.

“We are writing from the depths of our grief, in horror at the news of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh,” they wrote. “We feel we must speak out because our congressional representative, Steve King, is an enthusiastic crusader for the same types of abhorrent beliefs held by the Pittsburgh shooter.”

As Forward points out, both Steckman and Pleasants’ synagogues are located in King’s 4th congressional district.

Although he’s been disseminating racist dog whistles for years, heat is finally coming down on King from his fellow Republicans. Earlier this week, the head of the House Republican campaign Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) rebuked King, saying that the GOP “must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms.” The rebuke came after King endorsed a white nationalist candidate for mayor of Toronto followed by a meeting he took with Austrian white nationalists while he was on a trip to visit WWII-era concentration camps.

“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate,” Stivers wrote in a tweet posted this Tuesday. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

In their condemnation of King, Steckman and Pleasants wrote that they represent “proud Iowans who span the political spectrum, but we are united in our condemnation of white supremacy and anti-Semitism and the legislator from Iowa’s 4th congressional district who promotes it.”

“King’s actions and the silence of his colleagues in Iowa and in Congress foster a climate that enables the kind of hateful violence that erupted three times in the last week,” the pair wrote.

Pressure has been building on House Republicans to collectively condemn King. On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on GOP leaders to censure King and for House Speaker Paul Ryan to strip King of his subcommittee membership.

Additionally, companies such as Intel, Purina Petcare and Land O’Lakes announced that they were halting campaign contributions to King, who is currently running for reelection.

Speaking to The Hill, a senior GOP aide said that King lacks discipline and is a liability to the GOP.

“But if there is anything the president has taught in all of this it is: Never apologize,” the aide said. “In some ways, King is the proto-Trump. His strategy is say something; if the left comes at you and hits you over the head with it, double down.”

Featured image via Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

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