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HomeBreaking NewsDEBUNKED: False Claim That Eric Hovde Used Antisemitic Slur

DEBUNKED: False Claim That Eric Hovde Used Antisemitic Slur

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Actually, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is the Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate who has taken anti-Israel positions, including flip-flopping on a ceasefire.

An error-riddled article that falsely trashes Republican Senate candidate Eric Hovde contradicts its own central claim… in the same story.

How irresponsible is the article by Haaretz journalist Ben Samuels?

This is the “shock” headline that is certain to end up in a Democratic campaign ad: “Trump-Backed GOP Front-Runner For Wisconsin Senate Seat Has History Of Invoking Antisemitic Slurs.”

The evidence for this extremely irresponsible accusation is that the pro-Israel Hovde allegedly used the term “shyster.”

However, in the same article, Haaretz admits, “The term ‘shyster’ is not by definition an explicitly antisemitic slur.”

Despite this glaring concession, which destroys the story’s own headline, the Wisconsin Democratic Party immediately leaped on the claim, repeating it in a press release.

Got that? So the publication accuses Hovde of making antisemitic slurs that it admits are not “by definition an explicitly antisemitic slur.” Of course, most people won’t know that because the article is behind a paywall.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice shared the claim unquestioningly on X.

Hovde has been staunchly pro-Israel, whereas Baldwin has called for a ceasefire after being hounded by pro Gaza activists, voiced support for bringing Palestinian refugees to the U.S., has a history of going soft on Iran, and previously supported an Islamic group that now blames Israel for the October 7 attack.

The Haaretz author then claims that the word “is a widely understood dog whistle for which public figures have previously faced criticism and legal action.”

However, it’s easy to find articles that paint a different picture of the word and its origins.

In a lengthy article in the New York Law Journal, Daniel J. Kornstein analyzed whether the term “shyster” is an antisemitic slur. He determined, “To be sure, shyster is a derogatory term. It may even be defamatory. But by itself and without more, it is derogatory and defamatory to lawyers, not Jews. Shysters come in different religions.”

He wrote that, in 1982, a man named Gerald Cohen investigated the word’s origin.

“Cohen found no anti-Semitism in the derivation of shyster. It was coined by a Manhattan newspaper editor in 1843-1844. Cohen described how the newspaper was on a crusade against legal and political corruption,” Kornstein wrote. “During this crusade, the editor formed the word ‘shyster’ from the vulgar German word Scheisse (= excrement), hence ‘scheisser’ became ‘shyster.'” Kornstein later wrote a retrospective looking back on his article, although it’s also behind a paywall.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as a “person who is dishonest especially in politics or in the practice of law.” Dictionary.com notes, “Origin of shyster1 1835–45, Americanism; probably < German Scheisser” and defines it as:

  • “a lawyer who uses unprofessional or questionable methods.
  • a person who gets along by petty, sharp practices.”

The American Jewish Committee has a glossary of antisemitic words. It does not include the word shyster.

Yes, there’s been legal action. In one prominent case, the claim was tossed out.

In 2022, the UK publication Law Futures reported, “The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint about a TV advert for legal support app Legal Utopia using the word ‘shyster.'” Why was the complaint rejected? Because the ASA found it had many possible origins. “The ASA said it sought the views of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which had ‘no concerns about the use of the term in the ad,'” the article says.

Legal Utopia argued “that the interpretation of the word coming from character of Shylock in the Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice was ‘exceedingly remote and unsupported.'”

Haaretz simplifies the debate, using evidence that supports its narrative. For example, you can find counter takes on the word.

“Some etymologists believe ‘shyster’ is a derivative of Shakespeare’s character Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, used to describe a devious, scheming person of Jewish background,” the Observer reported.

However, Tablet Magazine reported that there have been many inaccurate theories about the word’s origins over the years, and Cohen’s was the accurate one.

In 2003, Jonah Goldberg, of National Review, skewered the Observer article, writing:

“The New York Times, by my quick (and limited) Lexis-Nexis search, has used the word ‘shyster’ no fewer than 107 times in the last few decades. The Washington Post, 128 times. Among those who use this execrable slur have been noted anti-Semites Charles Krauthammer, Mary McGrory, and Richard Cohen, who declared ‘The president cannot persist in acting like some shyster who mines the fine print for the gold no one else can see.’ The Jerusalem Post has used the word more than 20 times over the last decade or so, and from what I can tell never once mentioned the pernicious roots of the slur. Other publications railing against perfidious shysters include The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, and similarly notorious Jew-hating rags. And, I even found three mentions of the word in previous issues of that Protocols of the Elder of Zion in tan broadsheet — the New York Observer!”

In addition, the Haaretz article is so error-filled that it calls former Republican Gov. Scott Walker an “ex Sen.” Walker was never a U.S. senator. He was never a state senator, either. He served as an Assemblyman, county executive, and governor.

The Haaretz article falsely states that Hovde “has been primarily based in California.” This is not true. Actually, Hovde was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from high school and college here. Hovde has been a Wisconsin resident again for more than 12 years. He and his wife own a home in the Madison area. That’s where he lives, Hovde says.

The article also alleges that Hovde “repeatedly promoted the ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy theory, noting that ‘the Davos crowd’ are behind it.” It quotes him as saying, “The Davos crowd, there’s no question they want the Great Reset. They’re so blatant and open about it, they talk about it now. And they do believe that we want one central world government,” mentioning “Larry Find at BlackRock.”

“You know, people say, ‘Oh, that sounds [like a] conspiracy,’ [but] they’re very open about it and their whole views – and it’s a push toward socialism. It benefits the very elite in a global world order,” he’s quoted as saying.

The Haaretz article links to a story by the World Economic Forum that argues, “To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

In 2024, Reuters reported that “the annual World Economic Forum (WEF)” was “meeting in Davos.” Larry Fink’s activism has been widely reported. “Larry Fink has emerged as the point man for environmental, social, and corporate governance capitalism, broadly known as ESG,” the Heritage Foundation wrote in a lengthy 2022 article. “As chief executive officer of BlackRock, which holds a $10 trillion global portfolio, Fink leverages this immense power to compel companies that BlackRock invests in to comply with an aggressive climate change and diversity agenda in their operations.” Fink has been controversial in many corners; he was also criticized by a group of rabbis who were arrested protesting his company in 2021.

Yet the article turns this complex debate into evidence of “antisemitic slurs” even though Hovde never mentioned Fink’s religion and uttered no slur against him. The concerns Hovde referenced were centered on his concerns about socialism, a political-ideological difference.

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