In a now-deleted Facebook clip from Friday, D.C. councilman Trayon White Sr. blamed the weather on Jewish people, specifically one prominent Jewish family. The Washington Post reported the D.C. councilman uploaded a clip of himself talking about the cold weather and propagating an anti-Semitic myth that Jewish families like The Rothschilds were "controlling the climate." In his clip, White Sr. said,
Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation. And D.C. keep talking about, 'We a resilient city.' And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.
The Post reported that White Sr.'s comments elicited criticism and condemnation. According to the newspaper, Rabbi Daniel Zemel of Washington's Temple Micah commented on White Sr.'s conspiracy theory, calling it utterly unacceptable.
This kind of anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any public official. This so diminishes what America is about and adds to the oppressive feeling going on in the country right now. We all have to be better. Public officials have to learn not to say the first ignorant thing that comes into their head.
When The Post asked White Sr. to comment on his clip, the councilman at first defended his remarks and said, "The video says what it says."
Later on, White Sr. posted a screenshot of his own apology. In the tweet, he says, "In response to my social media post on Friday, as [a] leader I work hard every day to combat racism and prejudices of all kinds. I want to apologize to the Jewish Community and anyone I have offended. The Jewish community [has] been allies with me in my journey to help people."
White Sr. also wrote, "I did not intend to be anti-Semitic, and I see I should not have said that learning from my colleagues. I have spoken [sic] to leaders and my friends at Jews United for Justice and they are helping me to understand the history of comments made against Jews." He added, "I am committed to figuring out ways [to] continue to be allies with them and others."
Soon after he published his apology, White Sr.'s colleague, Brianne Nadeau shared a post on Facebook saying that she forgave White Sr. as a Jewish woman and looked forward to him not repeating the same remarks. Nadeau said,
As the Council Member representing the most diverse ward in the District, I understand how important it is to build bridges between our marginalized communities. My experiences of persecution as a Jew, and the experiences of my ancestors, are at the core of what drives me to serve the community.
She added, "My Jewish values tell me to help those less fortunate than I am, to work to repair the world and to do something when I see injustice. My Jewish values also teach me forgiveness."
Nadeau went on to say that she looked forward to White Sr. learning "from this experience" and added that she hoped that "we can serve the diverse people of the District of Columbia with a focus on lifting each other up, rather than tearing one another down." Other organizations like Jews United For Justice also tweeted that they forgave White for his remarks.
Anti-Semitic myths like Jewish people "controlling" weather systems are, unfortunately, nothing new. They seem to be part of a larger set of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, like some right-wing thinkers baselessly claiming billionaire hedge fund owner George Soros funds political protests in the United States. Cause for concern is understandable as the Anti-Defamation League said that there had been an unprecedented 57 percent uptick in anti-Semitism between 2016 and 2017.