Donald Trump, the former president of the United States and the current frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, is peddling incendiary and dangerous rhetoric about American Jewish voters.
On his Truth Social website on September 17, he posted a Rosh Hashanah greeting that was both self-congratulatory and unsettling.
Under his portrait and against the backdrop of the Stars and Stripes, he listed a litany of his achievements with respect to Israel and the U.S. Jewish community which his supporters presumably lauded.
These included recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights, which Israel wrested from Syria during the Six Day War and annexed in 1981, and signing an executive order that expanded the government’s ability to investigate complaints about antisemitism on American university campuses.
Strangely enough, he omitted his role in brokering the 2020 Abraham Accords, which was designed to normalize Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.
Trump’s pro-Israel credentials are indisputable, though some think he should have followed Russia’s lead and recognized West Jerusalem rather than all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Under a two-state solution, if one is still attainable, East Jerusalem would serve as the capital of Palestine.
This caveat notwithstanding, there was nothing really controversial in Trump’s succinct rehash of his pro-Israel policy.
What was patently objectionable in his New Year’s message was his odious reference to American Jews who do not like him or endorse him as a presidential candidate. Generally speaking, they cast their votes for the Democratic Party.
In roundly denouncing his Jewish adversaries, he wrote, “Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed false narratives! Let’s hope you learned from your mistakes and make better choices moving forward! Happy New Year!”
Writing in this vein and referring to his pro-Israel and pro-Jewish initiatives, he caustically added, “Wake up Sheep. What Nazi/ Antisemite ever did this for the Jewish people or Israel?”
Trump concluded with these sardonic words: “Clearly, one of the greatest AntiSemites of our time!”
This is the sort of New Year greeting that the vast majority of Jewish Americans neither welcome nor appreciate.
Trump’s allegation that liberal-leaning Jews are destroying the United States and its ally, Israel, due to their decision to vote for Joe Biden in the last presidential election is absurd, abominable and untrue. It feeds into vicious antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes that Jews are disloyal, cannot be trusted, and should be stripped of their rights as American citizens.
Trump, whose son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish and whose daughter Ivanka is a convert to Judaism, will surely disagree with the accusation that he is out of line. But he should be under no illusions that his most recent remarks are profoundly offensive and deeply divisive and advance antisemitic stereotypes. He should know better than to pander to antisemites, if only inadvertently.
Lamentably, Trump’s record strongly suggests that he genuinely believes his foul insinuation that American Jews are working against U.S. national interests.
Four years ago, he had the gall to say that Jewish supporters of the Democratic Party show either “a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Last autumn, he claimed that Evangelical Christians are more appreciative of his pro-Israel views than “people of the Jewish faith” and warned Jews “to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel, before it is too late.”
What was Trump implying? Only he can answer that question.
Last December, he lambasted “Jewish leaders” after they issued a condemnation of his dinner date in Florida with two antisemitic guests, Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, a notorious Holocaust denier.
Angered by their justifiable criticism of his faulty judgment, Trump testily wrote, “How quickly Jewish leaders forgot that I was the best, by far, president for Israel. They should be ashamed of themselves. This lack of loyalty to their greatest friends and allies is why large numbers in Congress, and so many others, have stopped giving support to Israel.”
A narcissist par excellence, Trump is so self-centered and self-absorbed that he believes that only Republicans are capable of rallying behind Israel.
It is true that Republicans tend to be more pro-Israel than Democrats, as the most recent polls indicate. But this should not detract from the inescapable fact that the Democratic Party leadership from Biden on down is supportive of Israel.
This does not mean that Democrats must slavishly endorse the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition government. Nor does it mean that the Democrats should not support a two-state solution, which Netanyahu staunchly opposes, or criticize Netanyahu’s misbegotten plan to radically overhaul the judiciary and weaken the powers of the Supreme Court.
One must assume that Trump, given his extreme partisanship, does not understand such distinctions.