FIRST ON FOX: Members of the Jewish community are rushing to the defense of a GOP donor who is friends with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and recently came under fire for possessing Nazi memorabilia in his massive collection of historical artifacts.
Real estate developer and Texas resident Harlan Crow has faced scrutiny from dozens of outlets for an assortment of items in his personal collection after a ProPublica investigation published last week found that Thomas’ close friendship with the billionaire allowed him to accompany Crow and his family on luxury vacations on his private jet and yacht, as well as have free stays on Crow’s vast vacation property.
Crow was labeled by the Rolling Stone as being "Nazi-obsessed," while Vanity Fair accused him of having a "Nazi fetish" due to his collection of artifacts from years past, which includes paintings of Hitler and other memorabilia from the Nazi era. Similarly, the Washingtonian launched an attack on Crow's collection of "Hitler artifacts" in an article and included a quote from one individual who said they "still can’t get over the collection of Nazi memorabilia."
But Crow's collection includes other items, according to those familiar with the lot, that his friends say members of the media overlooked — including a statue of Harriet Tubman, a painting of former President Abraham Lincoln that was painted by former President Dwight Eisenhower, a statue of vocal Nazi opponent Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a painting of Ulysses S. Grant, statues of Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin, a signed first edition of "Measure of a Man" by Martin Luther King Jr., and a statue of Sister Virgilius, who was known for her passion for educating the poor and least educated.
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Following the headlines of Crow in the media, Jewish Americans who know him best are now moving to dispel rumors that he has special interest in collecting Nazi memorabilia.
"Judaism is committed to never forgetting: to always remembering the great moments in history so that we can build upon them; and the horrors of history so that they are never repeated. We even have an entire holiday called Tisha B'Av dedicated to remembering the tragedies and persecutors in Jewish history from the destruction of the Temple to the Holocaust," Rabbi Michael Barclay of California told Fox News Digital. "It's easy for us all to remember the heroes, but as a Jewish leader, I thank God for men like Harlan Crow, who help us also remember the villains and the atrocities they committed so that they never happen again."
"As those who survived the Holocaust die off, it becomes ever more important to remember the true evil of the Nazis and not let Holocaust deniers rewrite history," Barclay added. "Less than one percent of Mr. Crow's collection include a 'rogue's gallery', and this collection is important so that we never forget the evils of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the like. And with God's help and the work of men like Mr. Crow, never let those types of evil leaders come to power again."
Similarly, Josh and Michelle Lobel, both self-described as "strongly identifying, committed and active members of the Jewish Community," said in a statement to Fox that they "cannot help but shake our heads at the profoundly ignorant and savage attacks on our close friends Harlan and Kathy Crow."
The married couple, both of whom have donated to Republicans and Democrats in the past, said they "were immediately befriended by the Crows" after they moved to Dallas two years ago and have "traveled with the Crows, dined with the Crows, been guests at their home, and vice versa."
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"We have gotten to know each other’s children," the pair said. "The Crows have exhibited warmth, camaraderie, hospitality and a genuine affection for us as individuals and as Jews. Harlan and Kathy’s success combined with their love of history has enabled them to assemble a museum-worthy collection of historical books and artifacts that is a treat to behold. The museum, which is professionally curated and managed, contains priceless historical Jewish texts and a Stradivarius."
"Stories have been published implying that the Crows, because their museum contains Nazi artifacts from WWII, are Nazi sympathizers," the couple added. "What we want to address is that, as Jews, we are friends of Harlan and Kathy Crow, and we are letting the world know that this attack on their character that implies they are weird Nazi fetishists is pure foolishness and cannot withstand one shred of scrutiny. The last time the four of us were together was at an event for United Hatzalah, a multi-ethnic life-saving ambulance service operating throughout Israel. Guess which couple has been one of the major donors to this incredible organization? Maybe it’s the same Crows."
Crow's massive collection — which sprawls from his personal residence to his business properties — also includes documents signed by Christopher Columbus and former President George Washington, as well as statues of British political icons Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
Thomas defended his relationship with the Crow family and explained in a statement issued last Friday that he has always followed Supreme Court guidance.
"Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends, and we have been friends for over twenty-five years," said Thomas, who has served on the bench for 32 years.
"As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter-century we have known them. Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable," he continued.
"I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines," he added. "These guidelines are now being changed, as the committee of the Judicial Conference responsible for financial disclosure for the entire federal judiciary just this past month announced new guidance. And, it is, of course, my intent to follow this guidance in the future."
Fox News' Brianna Herlihy, Shannon Bream, and Bill Mears contributed to this article.