Treat ‘Friends of Donald’ the same as ‘Friends of Farrakhan’

Anybody who tolerates one but not the other is a hypocrite. This describes the organized American Jewish community
Photo by Wes Lewis on Unsplash

Imagine if there were an American politician who, as a real estate magnate in New York, had systematically refused to rent apartments to Jews, then gotten sued for it by the Nixon Justice Department, and when it turned out five years later that he still wasn’t renting to Jews, got sued for it again by the Carter Justice Department.

And imagine if this same man had entered the American political arena as the leading voice of a notorious “birther” movement, one that sought to disqualify Joe Lieberman’s 2000 candidacy for vice president with the demonstrably false claim that he wasn’t born in the United States, but in Israel.

Now imagine if this same politician later announced his candidacy for U.S. president with an attack on Israeli immigrants in America, saying, “When Israel sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re bringing ecstasy pills. They’re bringing credit card fraud. They’re mafia killers.”

Question 1: What would Jews call such a politician? Question 2:  What would they call somebody who supported such a politician?

The man I’m describing, of course, is Donald Trump – only instead of refusing to rent to Jews, he refused to rent to blacks; instead of claiming that Joe Lieberman was really born in Israel, he claimed (for years) that President Barack Obama was really born in Kenya; and instead of attacking Israeli immigrants for bringing in ecstasy pills and credit card fraud and for being mafia hit men, he attacked Mexican immigrants for bringing in drugs and crime in general, and for being rapists.

This is the politician who, in the four years that finally, mercifully come to an end on Wednesday, was supported to the hilt by the late king of American Jewry, Sheldon Adelson, along with about 20 percent of American Jews. Also by the king of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu, and about 70 percent of Israeli Jews.

They all gave their votes, endorsements, praise and/or money to a loud and proud white supremacist – mainly, it seems, because of his Likud-style policy on Israel and the Palestinians. No doubt at least some of them also shared his contempt for blacks and Mexican immigrants, but Israel was the main issue. No doubt a great majority of them also shared Trump’s contempt for Muslims, which is another prominent theme in his profile as a white supremacist. (The three I listed at the top stand out in my mind, but there are of course so many, many others.)

No Jew (or gentile) ever got in trouble with the organized American Jewish community or, God forbid, with Israel, for throwing in with Trump. Sheldon Adelson, Trump’s biggest donor, was just buried with the highest Jewish honors, and his wife and heiress,  Miriam, will go on being treated like a queen despite her shared enthusiasm for this raging white racist.

Interestingly, there’s another notorious, bellicose American bigot who’s gotten very different treatment from American Jewry and Israel, as has anyone who so much as posted a photo of themselves standing next to the man.

I’m speaking of Louis Farrakhan.

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Farrakhan is everything they say he is – a lifelong, driven anti-Semite. He incites crowds of Black Muslims with tales of “Satanic Jews,” saying things like, “The Jews were responsible for all of the filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out: turning men into women, and women into men” (he’s also a lifelong homophobe). Things like, “In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?” and so on.

He’s a lot cruder than Trump, which is going some. But who is the more dangerous bigot, who has spread bigotry further, who has done more damage with it? As high up the scale as Farrakhan ranks, I’d put Trump higher because of his platform.

And the public figures, nearly all of them black, who’ve been targeted by the organized American Jewish community and media for their links with Farrakhan, or even casual contacts, never endorsed his anti-Semitism. Analogous to Jewish supporters of Trump, some of them may harbor private antipathy toward Jews (among Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam followers it should be assumed that all of them do), but clearly for them the main issue was Farrakhan’s standing as a black American leader, organizer of the 1995 Million Man March, head of a movement built on black pride, industriousness, self-discipline, sobriety.

Furthermore, after their publicized words of appreciation for Farrakhan were discovered– or even just their wordless photos with him (NBA star Allen Iverson) – they were all compelled to denounce anti-Semitism. Two of the leading American Jews patrolling the Farrakhan beat are themselves Trump supporters – pundit Ben Shapiro and Zionist Organization of America head Morton Klein. The latter demanded that Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University and then-commentator for CNN, be fired from both gigs as a “bigot Jew-hater” after he posted a photo of himself with Farrakhan on Instagram and wrote, “Been blessed to spend the last day with Minister Louis Farrakhan, An amazing time of learning, listening, laughing, and even head nodding to music. God is great.”

In the organized American Jewish community, Hill was tainted by that post. Yet Klein (a career Arab-basher to boot) is not tainted for whipping up a ZOA crowd with the words, “God bless you, President Trump, thank God for President Trump.”

Personally, I consider both Trump and Farrakhan to be untouchables, and anybody who goes out of his way to show his appreciation or even just acceptance of either of them is, if not a bigot, then a moral idiot.

And anybody who tolerates one but not the other is a hypocrite. This describes the established American Jewish community, which tolerates any sort of tie to Trump but none to Farrakhan. And they’re hypocrites not just on any issue, but on the issue of bigotry in America, which Jews have quite a stake in.

Obviously, the U.S. Jewish establishment is not going to anathematize Trumpists like they do anybody who ever smiled at Farrakhan. To do so they would have to anathematize millions of Jews in America and most of those in Israel.

But the organized U.S. Jewish community’s koshering of Friends of Donald means they’re in no position to criticize Friends of Farrakhan, and certainly not his mere acquaintances.

They can criticize if they want, of course, but their words are empty.

CLICK HERE to get my new memoir, “Playing Till We Have to Go – A Jewish childhood in inner-city L.A.” At Amazon: $2.99 Kindle, $8.99 paperback.

References

DOJ: Trump’s Early Businesses Blocked Blacks, Daily Beast – June 26, 2017

How Donald Trump Perpetrated the ‘Birther’ Movement for Years – ABC News, Sept. 16, 2016

Poll: Jewish voters favored Biden over Trump 77-21 – ToI, Nov. 4, 2020

By 70% to 13%, Israeli Jews say Trump is better candidate than Biden for Israel – ToI, Nov. 3, 2020

Farrakhan: In His Own Words – ADL

Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers respond to criticism of Hall of Famer’s post with Farrakhan – Jewish Insider, July 16, 2020

Ben Shapiro: Intersectionality and Anti-Semitism – CNS News, March 8, 2018

ZOA to CNN and Temple University: Fire Bigot Jew-Hater Marc Lamont Hill – Zionist Organization of America, Oct. 24, 2018

ZOA: ‘Thank G-d for President Trump’ – The Jewish Star, Nov. 7, 2018

About the Author
Larry Derfner is the author of the memoir "Playing Till We Have to Go -- A Jewish childhood in inner-city L.A.," published November 2020. His first memoir was "No Country for Jewish Liberals" (2017). He is also lead singer for The NightCallers, a '60s-'70s rock 'n' soul cover band, and a copy editor and contributor at Haaretz. Previously he was a columnist and feature writer at The Jerusalem Post. He also blogs at larryderfner.com
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