State Assembly candidate Tyler Diep is under fire by some members of Orange County’s Jewish community who contend his campaign used anti-Semitic themes to attack his opponent, Josh Lowenthal.
Some of Diep’s mailers depict Lowenthal — who is Jewish — with what some say is an enlarged nose and clutching hundred-dollar bills. A hospital patient in the background has her eyes closed with one hand against her head. The flier reads “Businessman Josh Lowenthal recklessly cut corners, putting customers and employees at risk just so he could make a quick buck.”
Anti-Semitic caricatures of Jewish people often include characteristics such as big noses and being greedy.
“While the fliers don’t reference religion, it links him to the age-old offense about Jews and money and Jews and greed,” said Peter Levi, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Orange County and Long Beach. “While we can’t be certain about the motive, the impact on the Jewish community has been seen before, and we’re seeing comparable images elsewhere in the country.”
“I can’t believe in today’s day and age someone would do this,” Rabbi Shmueley Marcus of the Chabad of Los Alamitos & Cypress said in a statement. “This is so outrageous and un-American; truly a sad day for our community.”
Rabbi Stephen Einstein of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley called the material “highly offensive.”
“It is completely inappropriate and should have no place in a political campaign that ought to focus on candidates’ positions on the important issues facing our state,” Einstein said in a statement. “This attempt at character assassination tells us much more about Tyler Diep than it does about the individual he is denigrating.”
Diep’s campaign issued a statement denying that it enlarged Lowenthal’s nose in the photo. It also provided a side-by-side comparison of the original photo used for the flier.
“Allegations to the contrary are despicable and incorrect,” the statement said. “Tyler is Vietnamese and fled communist persecution — he is highly sensitive to attempts at exploiting stereotypes to score political points.”
Diep’s campaign did not address the money pictured in Lowenthal’s hands.
Axiom Strategies, a consultant for Diep’s campaign, previously came under fire over an ad that upset a Missouri official who committed suicide in 2015.
Jeff Roe, founder of the Kansas City-based campaign consulting firm, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Diep, a Republican, and Lowenthal, a Democrat, are vying for the 72nd Assembly District seat in Tuesday’s election. The area covers Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Midway City, Rossmoor, Santa Ana, Seal Beach and Westminster.
Diep is currently vice mayor of Westminster.
Lowenthal is a business owner and president of FreeConferenceCall.com.