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GOP congressman condemned for promoting Nazi website attends lunch to honor Golda Meir

Rep. Paul Gosar, a far-right Arizona Republican who has associated himself with neo-Nazis, attended a Jewish event Thursday celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary. The event, a Capitol Hill lunch to promote legislation honoring former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, was held less than two weeks after Gosar linked to a neo-Nazi website in his official House newsletter and compared the Ukrainian government to Nazis.

Organizers of Thursday’s event defended the invitation to Gosar, saying he has a record of supporting Jewish causes and Israel. Gosar praised the U.S.-Israel relationship at the lunch as “one of the most endearing alliances and one of the most important ones worldwide.” 

The bipartisan bill touted at the lunch was introduced in February, and would direct the Treasury  Department to mint coins in recognition of Meir, a Ukrainian native who became Israel’s fourth leader, and to commemorate 75 years of U.S.-Israel relations. Ezra Friedlander, a D.C. lobbyist, and real estate developer Bobby Rechnitz, who chairs the Golda Meir Commemorative Coin Commission, are spearheading the effort.

Gosar has long riled Jewish Americans for associating with white nationalists, attending conferences organized by a Holocaust denier and appearing on the southern border with a pro-Nazi blogger. Media Matters, a left-leaning nonprofit that monitors news outlets, has charged that Gosar, on at least 30 occasions, has embraced antisemitic tropes and antisemites.

He faced backlash last week for promoting antisemitic content in his weekly newsletter, which he distributes each Sunday through his U.S. House email. The April 10 edition featured a link to a neo-Nazi website praising him for opposing U.S. assistance to Ukraine, but omitted an antisemitic reference from the original headline that described senior Biden administration officials as “Jewish warmongers.”  

Gosar defended the email, saying that “it’s not possible to read every article on every website we link to.” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, countered on Twitter that Gosar is trying to “brush off his platforming of antisemitic content and long-standing support for white nationalists” but “we’re not falling for it.” 

Gosar on Thursday called Meir a “legendary figure” and one of the world’s most effective leaders. “The United States will be forever grateful for the crucial role Golda Meir played in shaping our countries,” he said. “I hope we are allies and friends forever.” 

Tim Eckstein, board chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, told the Forward that he hoped the Meir event taught Gosar “something that might shake his deep and long-standing ties to his Holocaust denying, antisemitic, white supremacist allies.”

Friedlander told the Forward he is “not aware” of Gosar’s white nationalist ties and promotion of pro-Nazi links. “I’ve always found him to be very welcoming and supportive of the Jewish community and the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he said. 

Rep. Paul Gosar, (R-Arizona), is greeted by D.C. lobbyist Ezra Friedlander before a lunch to promote a bill  honoring former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir,  on April 27, 2023. Photo by The Lenchevsky Brothers

Gosar was one of 20 House members who attended the event. 

Earlier this month, Friedlander, founder of Project Legacy, a lobbying firm, faced backlash after meeting with Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who have angered many Jewish Americans for their sharp criticism of Israel and for trafficking in what many have deemed antisemitic tropes.

“My entire premise is to invite people with diverse views, and hopefully bring them together with other members in a common pursuit of support for good initiatives, including the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Friedlander said. 

Watch a video of Gosar’s remarks:

The post GOP congressman condemned for promoting Nazi website attends lunch to honor Golda Meir appeared first on The Forward.