Just a month before the Hamas terror attack that killed more than 1,200 people in Israel and resulted in 240 hostages taken, Vivek Ramaswamy’s New Hampshire co-chair took to social media to declare Israel an “apartheid state.”
Bruce Fenton, a one-time U.S. Senate candidate known for promoting his Bitcoin business and trafficking in 9/11 conspiracy theories, stood by his “apartheid” claim — described as antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League. And Ramaswamy stood by Fenton.
“Guess what? I have volunteers on my campaign whom I don’t agree with on everything,” Ramaswamy said at the time, calling Fenton’s statement about Israel “wildly wrong.”
Now, two months after the Oct. 7 attack, Fenton has stepped up his attacks on Israel yet again, going out of his way to defend anti-Israel protesters in Philadelphia. On Sunday night, pro-Palestinian activists targeted Goldie, a restaurant owned by an Israeli-American that serves Middle Eastern cuisine. The protesters shouted, “Intifada Revolution” and “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide.”
The event was organized by the Philly Palestine Coalition, which earlier this year called for a boycott of Zionist-owned businesses, including Goldie and others also owned by Israeli-born chef Mike Solomonov.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro denounced the protest.
“Tonight in Philly, we witnessed a blatant act of antisemitism. This was not a peaceful protest. A restaurant was targeted and mobbed simply because its owner is Jewish and Israeli. Such hate and bigotry are reminiscent of a very dark time in history.”
Shapiro’s view was echoed by President Joe Biden, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), and Jewish groups in Pennsylvania and across the nation. But Fenton took to social media to defend the protesters.
“The usual gaggle of NPC establishment hacks are calling this ‘antisemitism’ & pretending it’s a random Jewish person targeted for religion,” Fenton posted on X. “In reality, owner Michael Solomonov is a supporter of Israeli policies.”
After NHJournal reposted Fenton’s message and noted his position as state co-chair of the Ramaswamy campaign, Fenton deleted his post. However, he left up another.
“The owner of the restaurant, Michael Solomonov, is a supporter of Israeli policies and pledged to give some profits to members of the Israeli military,” that post said.
In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack, Solomonov, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel, donated one day of the proceeds from all his restaurants to the Friends of @unitedhatzalahofisrael, a volunteer emergency medical services program in Israel.
In an interview with NHJournal, Fenton said he believes too much of the criticism of Israel is being unfairly labeled antisemitism. He sees it as a legitimate protest of Israel’s military response to the Hamas invasion.
That was the case in Philadelphia, Fenton argued.
“[Solomonov] wasn’t protested because he’s Jewish. He was protested because of his political positions and his support of Israel and the IDF. That’s why he’s being targeted,” Fenton said. “He chose to act.”
And the fact that the restaurant owner was an Israeli Jew at a time when Jews are under increasing attacks across the U.S.?
“If the business had been owned by a Catholic who supported Israel’s policies and the IDF, it could have been targeted,” Fenton said.
Asked why he removed his post if he didn’t say anything objectionable, Fenton said he “often pulls tweets down” if he believes they are being misunderstood or leaving the wrong impression. “I try to be productive.”
Fenton’s posts come just weeks after pro-Palestinian protesters attacked an Israeli-owned business facility in Merrimack, smashing windows and damaging property.
The Ramaswamy campaign declined to respond to requests for comment about Fenton’s latest statements.