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Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Anti-Defamation League demands newspaper pull reference to Gottheimer’s Jewish fraternity

ADL leader says reference to congressman’s college fraternity ‘plays into classic anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money’

By David Wildstein, April 30 2021 2:24 pm

The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League called on a Canadian newspaper to drop a reference to Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s membership in a Jewish fraternity from a column published Tuesday, alleging its inclusion plays into anti-Semitic tropes.

“Mentioning a member of Congress was in a Jewish fraternity in college in an article about tax policy is wholly irrelevant and plays into classic anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money,” Jonathan Greenblatt said on Twitter. “The National Post should edit this article ASAP.”

The story, originally published on TK News, an independent newsletter authored by Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi, took aim at Gottheimer and other Democrats pushing for the repeal of the $10,000 cap on state and local property tax deductions.

Gottheimer, along with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) and roughly 30 other House members, earlier this month announced the formation of the SALT Caucus, a group that threatened to oppose President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan unless it repealed the cap.

“Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, made an inspired plea recently,” Taibbi wrote. “The Harvard man and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother is a member of the so-called ‘SALT caucus,’ a group of congress folk threatening to hold up Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill if it doesn’t include a full repeal of a Donald Trump-imposed $10,000 cap on deductions of state and local taxes.”

The SALT cap disproportionately impacts blue states, where cost of living and property taxes tend to be high, though the wealthier individuals reaped the lion’s share of the uncapped deduction’s benefits.

Its repeal has been a rallying call for Democratic Congressional candidates in North Jersey since 2018. Gottheimer, along with Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), campaigned on its repeal that year, and it returned as an issue, if a diminished one, in last year’s races.

The reference to Gottheimer’s membership in Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish college fraternity, remains in the column on both the National Post and TK News.

Jason M. Shames, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, echoed the ADL’s criticism.

“Say what you want about the SALT cap or tax policy, but Taibbi’s unnecessary mention of Gottheimer’s membership in this article for the National Post only serves to perpetuate anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money,” Shames said.

Investment banker Frank Pallotta filed a campaign committee this week indicating his intention to in challenge Gottheimer again 2022.

Pallotta faced criticism during his congressional run last year for his refusal to condemn the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia organization that has been implicated in the uprising at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Bergen County Republicans have moved toward the Oath Keepers than away from them this year.

Edward Durfee, the leader of the Oath Keepers in New Jersey, is the party-endorsed candidate for State Assembly in the heavily-Democratic 37th district.

Incidents of anti-Semitism are at a historic high nationally, with 295 recorded incidents in New Jersey last year, according to Alana Burman, the associate regional director of the ADL.

Burman said that New Jersey was the second highest in the nation in 2020.

The Rutgers University chapter of Gottheimer’s fraternity was vandalized earlier this month during a 24-hour Holocaust Remembrance Day reading.

This story was updated at 2:57 PM with comment from Shames.

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