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Trump appoints "Jew-counter" at centre of Nixon antisemitic campaign to head think tank

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump announced his intention to appoint long-time Republican operative Fred Malek as chair of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a highly recognised think tank that is part of the Smithsonian Institution.

While the position may be a relatively obscure one, Trump’s selection of Malek — coming as it does on the heels of the president defending neo-Nazis who were involved in a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — is significant, as Malek was involved in one of the most notorious antisemitic episodes in modern American history.

Malek, now 80, served as a special assistant to President Richard Nixon. In that role, in 1971, he put together a list of “important Jewish officials” who were working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Four of those officials were later demoted.

Nixon had come to believe that Democratic Jews in the BLS were conspiring against him after the bureau released a report playing down a drop in the unemployment rate, and ordered Malek to work on purging them from leadership positions.

“We’ve got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish … do you understand?” Nixon told chief of staff H.R. Halderman.

Malek later said he was simply following Nixon’s orders and played no role in the demotions — “If I had even been peripherally involved or asked to alter someone’s employment status I would have found it offensive and morally unacceptable, and I would have refused,” he told the Washington Post in 1988. But Nixon-era memos released in 2007 revealed he was lying.

According to one of those memos, on September 8, 1971, Malek — following up on the earlier memo listing “important Jewish officials” — wrote Haldeman and said, “I had several meetings with [Labor] Secretary [James D.] Hodgson to convince him of the need for fairly drastic moves.” Regarding the transfers of three BLS employees with Jewish-sounding names, Malek added, “These moves do not go as far as I would have preferred but represent a reasonable compromise [with the president’s demand for a Jew purge] that I feel will make the BLS a more responsive and effective unit.”

The Jew-counting episode has dogged Malek throughout the latter part of his career, which included a stint as co-chair of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, another as head of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) Commission, and fundraising for Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.

Click here to read the full article in Think Progress

Friday, September 01, 2017
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