CNN's Tapper Questions Whether Media Coverage Would've Been Different If Anti-Semitic Hanukkah Stabber Was 'White Supremacist'

On Monday's edition of the CNN program The Lead, host Jake Tapper addressed the rise in anti-Semitic attacks by questioning how reaction to the recent uptick in hate crimes against Jewish people had been committed by "white supremacists."

Tapper's guests for the segment were Jane Coaston, senior political writer for Vox, and Bari Weiss, opinion columnist and editor for The New York Times. Weiss has also written a book called How to Fight Anti-Semitism.

"This is kind of a sensitive question," Tapper asked, "but do you think the reaction by the politicians and the media would be any different if these recent anti-Semitic attacks had been committed by white supremacists instead of who they were committed by?"

"I do," Weiss said, "and the reason for that is because it took a man walking in with a machete the size of a broomstick for there to be any public outrage during the holiday of Hanukkah."

Weiss was referring to the Saturday night attack on a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, New York which sent five Jewish people to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Alleged assailant Grafton Thomas has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, although investigators did find anti-Semitic material in his home and on his mobile phone.

"Remember, when [Thomas] walked into that rabbi's house in Monsey, New York," Weiss continued, "there had already been nine hate crimes against Jews in New York City and Brooklyn that week."

After describing the difficulty in getting people to talk about the attack on a Kosher supermarket in a New Jersey neighborhood Weiss said, "When the person is wearing a MAGA hat or when they can be connected to the alt-right, that's sort of a clean case, right? It is someone who we all—people of conscience see as a villain but what happens when the person who is an attacker is someone when we—I mean when I say 'we,' I mean we people of conscience—see as someone who themselves is part of a victimized group? It seems then that a lot of people don't know how to make sense of that."

"Just to clarify," Tapper interjected, "obviously you're speaking hyperbolically. You're not talking about everyone with a MAGA hat. I just want to clarify because the internet's insane."

Newsweek reached out to CNN for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

anti-Semitism, Judaism
CNN host Jake Tapper asked guests on "The Lead" Monday if they believed media coverage of recent anti-Semitic crimes would be different if those responsible had been "white supremacists." Getty

Coaston expressed concern that the hatred of Jewish people runs deeply within people of all walks of life.

"I think that one of the challenges that we face is that anti-Semitism is a bipartisan issue, it's an all-partisan issue, it is not an issue that is just connected to one particular racial group," Coaston said. "It is something that infects and morphs and defigures people and communities. It's something that we have to be ready to speak out against."

"One of the things that has been really horrifying about these attacks that have been taking place in New York State and elsewhere against Jewish people is that the only similarity has been the subject of the hate," Coaston continued.

"The people have been different. Some have been people of color, some have been white, although that doesn't really matter when all of the victims are Jewish people, specifically people who are Orthodox. I think that that's really worth speaking up on because this is happening to people who are visibly Jewish. This is people who are proud to celebrate their religion and do so in full view and who absolutely should be able to do so. That's part of the foundation of this country."

Tapper called anti-Semitism a "disorder across the political spectrum."

"People should stop using it against each other and start uniting," Tapper said.

Weiss called for public leaders to show their support for Jewish people by organizing marches through neighborhoods where attacks against Jewish people have occurred.

"Anti-Semitism is a culturally inherited disease," Weiss said. "And in times in which the moral guardrails which keep bigotry down, when those moral guardrails are dismantled, we see it cropping up in all kinds of different places. It's not a partisan issue."

"It has no color. It has no political party. But the thing that needs to happen from our elected leaders is that they need to be saying that," Weiss concluded. "And the first way for them to do it is to show absolute solidarity with the Jewish communities that are being attacked."