ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Donald Trump's campaign has been answering charges of anti-Semitism since he tweeted out an image attacking Hillary Clinton that contained a six-pointed star placed over cash. Trump deleted the graphic and blamed the media for creating controversy. Today, the New York Observer's owner, Jared Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law argued that his father-in-law is not an anti-Semite.
But Matt Katz of member station WNYC reports it is not the first time Trump has been accused of fostering anti-Semitism, and we should warn you this story contains content some listeners may find offensive.
MATT KATZ, BYLINE: Hi.
BETHANY MANDEL: How's it going?
KATZ: Good. How are you? Pleasure to meet you.
MANDEL: This is perfect timing...
KATZ: Perfect timing. Are the kids sleeping?
KATZ: I arrive at naptime at Bethany Mandel's second-floor apartment in central New Jersey. She's a full-time mom who works from home, and that's why her laptop - open - is on the couch. But that's not what I came to see.
MANDEL: It's a 22 revolver. It's not loaded, obviously.
KATZ: Mandel, 30-years-old, is a politically conservative writer and an Orthodox Jew who has written in prominent Jewish and conservative publications about her opposition to Trump. That's why she bought a gun. She has faced thousands of anti-Semitic messages online, mostly from self-identified white nationalists who are big Trump supporters. Messages like...
MANDEL: Die - you deserve to be in an oven, the world would be better off without you and like...
KATZ: It's the memes they send her that she has to hide from her children.
MANDEL: They're pictures of - they're Holocaust victims and then they superimpose my face on one of the victim's.
KATZ: Twitter has been criticized for doing little to rid its network of such hate, especially with real-life anti-Semitic incidents on the rise. But ultimately, Mandel blames Trump who, she says, is playing to the bottom rung of society. So a couple of months ago, she packed up the kids and went to the gun shop, and now she feels safer.
MANDEL: Like, come at me. Everybody knows I have a gun now, like - and I'm really not afraid to shoot it.
KATZ: The anti-Semites initial targets were conservative writers who opposed Trump, but they soon created images of decapitated yarmulke-wearing heads of Jewish news reporters who cover Trump. Though, some Jewish writers view the trolls as harmless.
For me, it took just a few days of reporting on Trump before I was called a [expletive], then my name was posted inside triple parentheses which is neo-Nazi code for flagging Jews. I just wanted to know, why?
TONY SANDO: At that time, you know, it - when I did that it was really nothing, you know, personally against you.
KATZ: That's a Trump supporter who called me out on Twitter for being Jewish. He identified himself as a 28-year-old Iraq war veteran. He goes by the handle @tonysando. I tweeted back to see if he would do an interview, and he gave me his number.
SANDO: It is your ethnicity. I don't understand why you would be upset, regardless of, you know, who it is saying it, it's, you know - it's a factual matter.
KATZ: Well, I think it's - I think it comes from the fact that...
I told him that over the centuries, Jews have been identified and scapegoated then murdered.
SANDO: Looking at it logically, that's completely understandable.
KATZ: But then he went on to say that white people are the ones who are scapegoated in modern America. Jews, white supremacists say, have disproportionate power over media, foreign policy and banking. There's a paradox here because Jews are an integral part of Trump's operation. One of his closest advisers is Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and the Orthodox Jewish husband to his daughter Ivanka, who converted.
Trump often mentions that he has Jewish grandchildren. Trump, even when asked, has refused to denounce the anti-Semites who wage online attacks in his name. Jason Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew and chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, highlighted a brief statement Trump released earlier this year denouncing anti-Semitism after an endorsement from David Duke, former leader of the KKK.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JASON GREENBLATT: He's running a campaign. He has a business to run. I don't think it's fair for me to constantly go to him and say this unknown Twitter troll said this. Can you make a statement?
KATZ: But so far, Trump has not made any such statement. For NPR News, I'm Matt Katz.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.