SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Plame is running for Congress in New Mexico and in the past was seen as a victim of the Bush administration. But in 2017 she tweeted an article titled “America’s Jews are driving America’s Wars”.
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson poses during a photocall for the film Fair Game at the 36th American film festival in Deauville September 9, 2010. . (photo credit: VINCENT KESSLER/ REUTERS)
US congressional candidate Valerie Plame, who once tweeted antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming American Jews for causing America’s wars, now claims to be of Ukrainian Jewish descent in a new campaign video. The snazzy new spot shows someone driving backwards in a sports car, while the candidate recalls that she was once an “undercover CIA operative,” whose identity was leaked.
Plame is running for Congress in New Mexico and in the past was seen as a victim of the Bush administration. But in 2017 she tweeted an article titled “America’s Jews are driving America’s Wars” which showed a photo of Bill Kristol. Challenged on the offensive headline and antisemitic tweet, she told people to “calm down, re-tweets don’t imply endorsements. Yes, very provocative, but thoughtful. Many neocon hawks ARE Jewish.” She walked back that claim later and said she had “skimmed” the piece. However she has consistently been contradictory about the tweet, first claiming that the article was provocative and thoughtful, and then claiming that she had just skimmed it. The headline, “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars” is antisemitic. There is no “thoughtfulness” in it. And it doesn’t say “neocons,” a term that has been repackaged too often to mean “Jews.”
Later, on CNN in May 2019 when her candidacy became known she was asked about the tweet. Her story changed again, claiming she hadn’t liked the article and that the “only thing that I focused on in the article was that I thought it was a bad idea to get out of the Iran nuclear deal.” There are tens of thousands of articles arguing why it might have been bad to leave the Iran Deal, why did Plame tweet the one claiming “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars” from an antisemitic site that spreads conspiracies? Asked by CNN she then claimed that she “stupidly did not read the rest of the article.” Which is it? She read the offensive headline and tweeted it anyway? Or she skimmed it? Or just read the part about the “Iran deal” and tweeted the headline anyway? Or she focused on the “neocons.”
She told CNN she was “embarrassed” by the whole episode, as if it was just mistake. But most people don’t make mistakes and tweet that America’s Jews control America and cause America’s wars, unless they hate Jews. No one in recent memory has run for Congress so prominently and claimed Jews cause America’s wars. Plame’s contradictory statements raise questions about her judgement and underlying antisemitism or predilection for believing conspiracies. During the original scandal she had told people “read the entire article, just for a moment, to put aside your biases and think clearly.” So she told people shocked by the antisemitism that they were biased. Then she claimed that she had “missed gross undercurrents to this article.” Undercurrents? The article’s headline said Jews drive America’s wars.
Now Plame is trying to whitewash the issue again with her video claiming to be related to Jews. “I come from Ukrainian Jewish immigrants,” her new campaign video claims. It’s unclear why someone who now takes pride in their Ukrainian Jewish background would ever tweet an article headlined “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars.” Like Plame’s claim, some of my ancestors came from Ukraine. If your ancestors came from Ukraine then wouldn’t you be particularly sensitive to conspiracies like the Elders of Zion that claim Jews cause wars? Plame doesn’t seem to have internalized how horrid her tweet was, blaming a small American minority group, rather than the majority, for America’s wars. Plame has never explained it. She’s never really apologized or even shown an interest in listening to Jews concerned about it. She’s tried at every juncture to add a new excuse, from pretending it was a re-tweet, which it wasn’t, to asking people to put aside the headline and read it, to telling people to “calm down,” as if being offended is the problem.
The more disturbing question remains. Why did Plame ever share a tweet from a conspiracy-laden website? Did she read the website often? Does she still read it? If she shared it because someone sent it to her, who sent it to her and why is she linked to people who share antisemitic articles? Will she end those connections to conspiracy theorists and antisemites now that she is running for Congress? How can someone who wants to be in Congress and reads the headline “America’s Jews are driving America’s Wars” and doesn’t notice the racism, convince people of anything else? In a period of rising antisemitism in America Plame has never taken seriously how offensive the article was, claiming in 2017 it was a mistake and a “doozy” to share the “problematic” article. She said she will read “thoroughly” next time. Plame still hasn’t explained how she can both take pride in her Jewish immigrant ancestors and have shared an article headlined “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars.” It’s not a question of reading thoroughly or being a “doozy,” it’s pure, obvious, racist antisemitism. And she tweeted it.