Antisemitic Threats to Florida Judge Should Be Bigger Story

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (8/10/22): “Calls for violence have accompanied antisemitic slurs and conspiracy theories.”

The Florida federal judge who signed the warrant for the FBI to raid former President Donald Trump’s property is Jewish, and the far-right is terrorizing him and his community as a result.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (8/10/22) reported that “Bruce Reinhart…has been hit with a wave of antisemitic threats online,” including death threats. And the synagogue whose board he serves on has been attacked as well, the Forward (8/9/22) reported:

What began with Lenny Dykstra, a retired New York Mets legend, questioning the nature of the Conservative synagogue’s Judaism, spilled over onto right-wing social media platforms and message boards, where users published the judge’s name, address and personal information. Threats have been directed at Reinhart’s children and supposed family members as well.

On Thursday, a synagogue member told the Forward that the synagogue’s beachside Shabbat service had been canceled…“because of the social media hate.”

Specifically, Dykstra said on Twitter, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light (8/9/22):

“I hope you all weren’t expecting that the synagogue where go-ahead-and-raid-Trump Judge #BruceReinhart is on the board of trustees is one where the congregation keeps kosher, observes the sabbath, etc. You can bet they’re into ‘social justice’ of course!” Dykstra tweeted to his nearly 87,000 followers.

This is a funny little twist of antisemitism that many non–Orthodox Jews are all too used to: Christians using a professed love for the Jewish religion to vilify Jews whose religious practices are less observant. It’s not a coincidence that many less devout Jews happen to be more progressive in their politics than more religious communities.

Fanning the flames


 Fox News Airs Doctored Photo of Trump Raid Judge With Ghislaine Maxwell

Daily Beast (8/12/21): “[Fox‘s Brian] Kilmeade took to Twitter not to apologize but rather to claim that the fake image was shown on the news network purely as a goof.”

Politico (8/12/22) and Religious News Service (8/12/22) picked up the story, but for the most part it has been hard to find these details outside of the Jewish press. Corporate media have spent more time fixated on the fact that Reinhart represented individuals close to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein (Politico 8/9/22; New York Post, 8/9/22), which has helped fuel the far-right antisemitic theory that Trump’s enemies are a cabal of Jewish pedophiles (Guardian, 8/25/20).


Fox News fanned these flames on Tucker Carlson Tonight when, as the Daily Beast (8/12/21) reported, “fill-in host Brian Kilmeade” used “a fabricated image of two separate photographs appeared on screen depicting [Reinhart] on an airplane receiving a foot massage from convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell,” and that “it took Sean Hannity of all people to plainly spell out the image’s inauthenticity.” In a more reality-based smear, Fox News (8/9/22) insinuated the judge was politically biased by reporting on his past support for former President Barack Obama.

USA Today (8/10/22) reported on the threats against Reinhart, but didn’t mention the anti-Jewish nature of the torment.

Two Jewish communities—Illinois’s Highland Park (CNN, 7/27/22), and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh (WHYY, 10/22/21)—are still reeling from mass shootings, the latter of which was, as FAIR (10/30/18) reported, explicitly inspired by anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant talking points in the pro-Trump far-right media.

Interestingly, in the Highland Park shooting—much like in the case of the Florida judge—the Forward (7/7/22) noted that mainstream media coverage of the attack ignored evidence of the targeting of a Jewish community, making it out to be a random suburban attack that “could happen anywhere.” “Jews  pleading for them to talk about our community and how it was affected were completely ignored,” Elad Nehorai wrote.

There’s a disturbing echo of the Tree of Life shooter’s obsession with the Jewish immigration agency HIAS in Dykstra’s complaint about the Florida synagogue’s concern for “social justice.” And the far-right outrage over the Trump raid has already proven capable of turning violent, as one January 6 insurrectionist was killed by law enforcement attempting to attack an FBI office in Cleveland (WXIX/AP, 8/10/22).

One would think, then, that the anti-Jewish threats against Reinhart would be bigger news.

No longer outliers

 The Rise of Woke Anti-Semitism

For the Wall Street Journal (5/24/21), supporting Israel is the same as “denouncing antisemitism.”

Of course, the corporate press does like to talk about antisemitism—sometimes. The Wall Street Journal (1/17/22) said that antisemitic violence from Muslims and the left wasn’t being taken seriously because “Islamist and left-wing terrorism are closely associated with the Democrats.” The Murdoch paper (5/24/21) also said Democrats were fueling antisemitism with their criticism of the Israeli government.

The New York Times (4/26/22) has reported on legitimate upticks in threats against Jews, but that paper and others have also been found to have erroneously framed antisemitism as an extension of legitimate criticism of the Israeli government (, 8/26/20).

The media’s failure to adequately portrayal what has happened to Reinhart isn’t just a blow to him and his community—it’s a failure to expose how deeply fascistic and hateful the far-right following of Trump’s base actually is. It’s easy to dismiss the threats as meaningless outbursts. But Trump’s base has shown itself to be extremely violent and to act on those threats, from the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally to the January 6 insurrection.

The reason why Reinhart’s role in the FBI is causing such a fervor in the Trump movement isn’t just that he signed the warrant, but he represents the kind of “Jewish problem” the far right perceives in the American government. There’s a steady white nationalist mythology that while Jews are not the public face of liberal, democratic order, they are its puppet masters behind the scenes. Unaccountable to the electoral system, they spend their days thwarting Trump’s efforts to establish Christian dominion in the United States.

Trump himself has stood accused of using antisemitism in his political rhetoric (Vanity Fair, 12/17/21;, 1/28/20), and even though he is out of power, we find more and more Republican candidates and elected officials with connections to antisemitism (CNN, 5/6/22, 7/28/22; New York Times, 6/10/22; New York, 1/28/21). In short, these posters threatening the judge are simply no longer outliers on the right; their values are represented as normal within the party.

Hopefully, Reinhart and his community will experience no physical harm as a result of these threats. But such menaces continue to fester in an ideology that has, indeed, broken out against Jews as well as other minorities. Media need to care about that.

By Ari Paul August 16, 2022