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Two Kentucky lawmakers apologize after using anti-Semitic phrase, Kentucky Jewish Council responds

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Posted at 9:01 AM, Feb 24, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Two GOP lawmakers are receiving backlash for using an anti-Semitic phrase during a committee meeting in Frankfort.

Senator Rick Girdler and Representative Walker Thomas both used the phrase “Jew them down” during a Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee hearing. The phrase was used in reference to bargaining for a lower price on a lease.

Jewish leaders describe hearing that phrase in a public forum as shocking.

The Kentucky Jewish Council shared their response with LEX 18 via email. They wrote, "Every elected official should take this as a learning opportunity. This is not a simple turn of phrase. It's a dangerous relic of a hateful bygone era that has no place in Kentucky."

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin also said he met with both lawmakers to explain why the phrase is offensive. The rabbi said the two men apologized and confirmed their support for the Jewish community. He also says both legislators told him that they meant no malice.

Reaction to their comments was swift from lawmakers across the state.

"As a Jew born just after the Holocaust, I can tell you that this increasingly common casual bigotry from today's Republican Party is not just a stain on our Commonwealth and country, it is an urgent threat. Every Kentuckian must do their part to rid our government of this filth," Rep. John Yarmuth tweeted Wednesday.

Morgan McGarvey tweeted, "It’s outrageous to see elected officials using antisemitic slurs anywhere, especially during a committee hearing. This language is damaging and dangerous."