In his play The Tempest, William Shakespeare wrote, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Sometime in the 19th Century, the quote morphed into the proverb, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

It strikes me a deeply apropos in some cases when it comes to today’s GOP and how politically conservative Jews seem okay with their proximity to the far-right. This isn’t to say the left is free from antisemitism — far from it. It’s the paradox of being a Jew in the United States today; we see antisemitism across the political spectrum. 

However, that doesn’t excuse any Jew from supporting antisemites —  regardless of when we find it to be a politically convenient matter of course. Thus is my concern when I see some of the “bedfellows” invited to speaking engagements at the Chabad Jewish Community Center in Aspen. 

In particular, they welcome John Case this week to speak on a topic he’s intimately familiar with — albeit from a questionable perspective. Case is the attorney for Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder. Schroeder is under investigation for alleged violation of elections laws regarding accessing election machine data. Indeed, he admitted to making unauthorized copies of Elbert County’s election machine data in his own affidavit regarding a lawsuit he joined last November against Sec. State Jena Griswold alleging election malfeasance in the 2020 Presidential election, according to a Daily Beast article published on May 10

“Schroeder, who did not return a request for comment, is the second Colorado clerk accused of breaching voting machines under his supervision,” the Daily Beast wrote. “The other clerk, Tina Peters of Mesa County, is currently facing a barrage of criminal charges for allegedly stealing a local tech worker’s identity, illegally copying her county’s election data, and leaking it to election fraud conspiracy theorists last spring. She later appeared at (MyPillow CEO Mike) Lindell’s “cyber symposium” on supposed voter fraud where she implied, incorrectly, that the stolen data suggested election malfeasance against Donald Trump.”

That alone is problematic enough, but here’s where it gets uglier. 

In April, a special investigative report by Reuters provides some more detail around how Schroeder got access to the material he shouldn’t have breached: “Footage obtained by Reuters through a public-records request shows Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder, the county’s top election official, fiddling with cables and typing on his phone as he copied computer drives containing sensitive voting information… Schroeder, a Republican, later testified that he was receiving instructions on how to copy the system’s data from a retired Air Force colonel and political activist bent on proving Trump lost because of fraud… Schroeder said in a legal filing that he believed he had a “statutory duty” to preserve voting records. He declined to comment for this report.”

According to the Reuters report — and the legal filings submitted by Schroeder — the retired Air Force colonel who assisted him was Shawn Smith, along with an IT specialist who plied Schroeder with what he needed. 

“In legal filings, the clerk admitted to making a copy of the county election server’s two hard drives on Aug. 26. He said he got help from Shawn Smith, a retired Air Force colonel and self-styled election fraud activist, and Mark Cook, an IT specialist who supplied Schroeder with a digital forensic imager costing about $4,000 and capable of transferring data at high speeds. Both Smith and Cook then “provided instructions” as Schroeder worked to take the data, Schroeder testified. On Sept. 2, he made a second copy of the hard drives, he said.

And here’s where the antisemitic bedfellows appear to rear their head. Smith is an official with the so-called U.S. Election Integrity Plan who claims to be a nonpartisan election watchdog. However, one glance at the collection of “news sources” they proudly cite reveals a collection of deeply partisan — and frequently antisemitic publishers. These include Bannon’s War Room, One America News Network, and Human Events

Here’s just a snapshot of the kinds of Jew-hate these so-called “nonpartisan sources” have engaged in:

  • Steve Bannon’s exploits with antisemitism are well-documented too. Under his leadership when he ran Breitbart — another far-right, nationalist rag — he trotted out the ol’ “globalist worldview” canard when talking about Jewish reporters who published things contrary to his political agenda — like this quote he lobbed at Washington Post reporter Anne Applebaum in one of his columns: “Hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” In his divorce proceedings, Bannon’s ex-wife alleged other antisemitic comments he made about private schools they were evaluating for their children. According to a report by “At one, Westland School, Bannon’s ex-wife said he ‘asked the director why there were so many Chanukah books in the library…Regarding another academy, The Archer School for Girls, the ex-wife claimed Bannon ‘went on to say the biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend. He said that he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.’”

Peruse the links embedded above — they give a much more detailed and credibly sourced account of the depths of ugliness proffered by these so called “nonpartisan” “news sources.”

[this is where I’ll provide quotes from the JCC — or say they haven’t responded]

In the United States, approximately 70% of Jews tend to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, and that’s long been a fairly consistent standard. It’s also fairly consistent that the more Orthodox-observant Jews tend to lean towards the Republican Party. As in any ethnic group, unanimity is certainly not a guarantee. 

So while it’s certainly no surprise that there are Jews who align themselves with nonsense like the Big Lie, it’s also deeply heartbreaking to know that they’ll also find themselves standing shoulder-to-shoulder with far-right nationalists who would be happy to see us all wiped out. 

Strange bedfellows indeed.