Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite
Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-SemiteiStock

A Florida organizer of the right-wing activist group Moms For Liberty who successfully pressed her school district to remove a version of Anne Frank’s diary recently appeared on a livestream banned from YouTube because of its pastor host’s antisemitism.

Jennifer Pippen, who chairs the group’s chapter in Indian River County, Florida, appeared in September on the show TruNews, which is hosted by End Times preacher Rick Wiles. Wiles is a conspiracy theorist who has claimed that Jews and Zionists have “attacked Christian culture” and railed against the “Jewish lobby” and “Kabbalah wizard rabbis.”

Wiles, who like Pippen is based in Vero Beach, Florida, has also stated, “That’s the way the Jews work, they are deceivers, they plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda.” He has claimed that “Israel” was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 2019 he stated, “It’s not Muslims that are going to kill us. It’s the Jews.”

The following year he called the first attempted impeachment of then-US President Donald Trump a “Jew coup,” adding that Jews would “kill millions of Christians” after they overthrew the president. The Trump administration credentialed the outlet multiple times, leading to major pushback from Jewish groups. The channel was permanently banned from YouTube in 2020 over Wiles’ antisemitic rants.

Speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Monday, Pippen said she had not been aware of Wiles’ antisemitism before she appeared on his show and would not have agreed to it if she’d known.

“Honestly, I’ve never heard of him before,” she said. “And I wasn’t aware of anything that he said against any organizations or group of people or anything like that.”

Yet when she was asked if she was sorry for appearing on TruNews, Pippen responded, “Absolutely not. No.” She said she did not necessarily endorse the views of everyone she speaks to about her efforts to ensure that school libraries contain only “age-appropriate” material.

“My interview was a representation of me and our work with Moms For Liberty,” she said. “Just because somebody says or does something years ago that I don’t agree with doesn’t mean that just because I did an interview with him, I agree with every single little thing that he said or what his news outlet has put out.”

Although Moms For Liberty has some Jewish members in its leadership, the group borrows much of its rhetoric from Christian nationalist organizations and one local chapter has quoted Hitler in its communications to parents. The “parents’ rights” movement the group represents has largely targeted books about race, gender and sexual identity, but some Jewish and Holocaust books have also been caught in the dragnet.

This spring Pippen’s school district on the state’s Atlantic coast, acting on her challenge, made national headlines when it agreed to pull “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” from high schools. A spokesperson told JTA at the time that the 2018 illustrated reimagining of Frank’s diary was “a fictional novel” and “not age-appropriate.”

Since then, opposition to the book has only grown. A Jewish parent at another Florida school district successfully petitioned for the book’s removal last month, while a middle-school teacher in Texas was recently fired for reportedly assigning and reading aloud passages from the book. Politicians and other public figures have since claimed that the book’s depiction of Frank’s attraction to another girl, and her descriptions of her own genitalia, were “pornography”; a local Florida news outlet claimed Pippen had called the book “sexually explicit” in her own challenge.

Pippen told JTA that the quote attributed to her was incorrect and that she did not object to the book’s sexual content, which she recognized came from Frank’s original diary. “I didn’t challenge it for the sexually explicit content because this was actually what she wrote,” she said. “This is what she was thinking in her teenage years, during the Holocaust.”

She instead said she objected to the book’s presence in her high school for a different reason: that it was a highly abridged version of the diary’s original text, and she and a local Holocaust education group jointly believed high school students should be expected to be able to read the original instead.

“They agreed that this one book, the graphic adaptation, should be permanently removed because they felt that children in high school should be reading the true diary of Anne Frank, and not the graphic adaptation, to get the actual, factual information from the diary,” Pippen said, adding that she supported “age-appropriate” Holocaust education in schools.

Pippen said Wiles had reached out to her to ask about her challenge to the Anne Frank book specifically, although she said she did not think his questions about the book were antisemitic in nature and the two did not discuss the book in their live conversation.

Wearing a Moms For Liberty T-shirt, Pippen spoke to Wiles for around 30 minutes on his show, chiefly promoting the work of her group, which Wiles said he fully supported. “I will do everything I can to help you,” he told her. “I will help raise money, I will help organize, I will help you get a lawsuit against the school board.”

Wiles introduced his interview with Pippen by stating, “Marxist Communists are waging war against America’s innocent children in almost every state in the USA. They have infiltrated our nation’s local school districts and public libraries.” He concluded it by comparing Moms For Liberty’s battles with school boards to the French Revolution, adding, “If we don’t stop it really soon, none of us are going to survive over the next 10 years, because these people are violent. … They’re going after our children now.”

Pippen told JTA she did not agree with Wiles’ characterization of her activism and had tried to steer the conversation back to books.

TruNews has broadcast in various forms for more than two decades, and Wiles has taken aim at Muslims and LGBTQ individuals as well as Jews over time. In recent weeks, since his broadcast with Pippen and Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Wiles has posted almost exclusively content targeting “godless, atheistic, antichrist Zionism” on social media and called on the Israeli government to “stop the Palestinian pogrom.”