Opinion writer

Perhaps there was some sort of twisted contest at the White House to see who could be most offensive after the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue.

First up was Kellyanne Conway, who sought to take the Judaism out of the worst anti-Semitic killing in American history. She insisted that what was really behind all this was those atheists in the media. “The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue and funny, to make fun of anybody of faith. To constantly be making fun of people who expresses religion,” Conway said. “The late-night comedians. The unfunny people on TV shows. It’s always anti-religious. And remember, these people were gunned down in their place of worship.” She added: “This is no time to be driving God out of the public square. No time to be making fun of people.”

Let’s be blunt: This was about Jews. It was not about killing anyone of faith. Taking anti-Semitism out of the equation would be like leaving Jews out of the Holocaust. (Oh, wait. The White House did that one year in its International Holocaust Remembrance Day message.)

Then President Trump piped up. Surely he could top Conway! Ignoring the alleged gunman’s own explanation — that he was going after the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) because, as he might have learned from Trump or his Fox News mouthpieces, Jewish billionaire George Soros was funding the “invasion” — Trump went right back to raising hysteria about a few thousand migrants (many of them women and children) about a thousand miles from the border:

It was time for another stunt and misuse of armed forces and taxpayer money: Trump decided to send 5,2o0 troops to the border. Nothing says “presidential leadership” like doubling down on the xenophobic lie that provoked the suspected shooter.

The Post also reports that Republicans are still using anti-Soros ads. That’s even though the Anti-Defamation League had warned, “Even if unintentional, politicians and pundits repeating these unsubstantiated conspiracies essentially validate the same hateful myths propagated by anti-Semites. A person who promotes a Soros conspiracy theory may not intend to promulgate anti-Semitism. But Soros’ Jewish identity is so well-known that in many cases it is hard not to infer that meaning.” Even after the slaughter by an anti-Semite, Republicans couldn’t stop. Plainly they don’t care or are intentionally feeding their base’s worst sensibilities.

In the contest for most offensive, however, Vice President Pence came in with the “winning” entry later in the day. The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, reported Monday:

Vice President Mike Pence was joined by a Jews for Jesus ‘rabbi’ who prayed for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at a Republican campaign rally in Michigan on Monday.

Messianic Jewish Rabbi Loren Jacobs of Synagogue Shema Yisrael intoned prayers to “Jesus the Messiah” and denounced the “hate inspired shooting in synagogue in Pittsburgh” before Pence spoke at the rally in Grand Rapids.

In case you didn’t know, Jews (who do not believe Jesus was the Messiah) consider so-called Messianic Jews to be an oxymoron. In calling themselves Jews and seeking to convert Jews, they deeply offend the vast majority of actual Jews.  The faux-rabbi then prayed for a list of Republicans. Pence’s office reportedly blamed a local congressman for the invitation, although he invited Jacobs on stage. At any rate, no apology seems to be forthcoming.

You do wonder how Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, and Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism, could have so totally failed to convey to the administration even an inkling of understanding about how its actions are perceived. You would think that they would explain, for example, that constantly invoking Soros’s name reeks of anti-Semitism. Then again, they apparently could not convince Trump that no “fine” people ever march with neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us!”

Well, maybe Kushner and Ivanka Trump have tried to explain these things but the president, Pence and Conway simply don’t care how many Jews they offend.

Read more from Jennifer Rubin:

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