Weaponizing Anti-Semitism

Donald Trump’s latest racist tweet storm attempts to draw Jews and Israel onto his battles with Democratic critics by attacking his targets as anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and communists.

His message for them is one we Jews and other minorities and immigrants have heard from the white supremacists for many years: get out of my white, Christian country. I wonder if he realizes this also speaks to more recent immigrants from third-world countries like his wife and in-laws.

“Today’s latest Trump offense was worse than most as it spoke to my late parents and grandparents (a”h).  Ironically, it should have spoken to Donald Trump’s grandparents and his wife and in-laws and his machatunim, the Kushners.  Oh, but they’re all white.  A lot of us have heard this before somewhere,” said Steve Rabinowitz, an advisor to many Jewish organizations,

Trump is using a version of the old “love it or leave it,” if you’re not happy here, don’t criticize, you’re “free to leave.”  This time his targets are Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (AOC), Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. All are U.S. citizens, three native-born and Omar is an immigrant from Somalia. Ironically the four women did something Trump failed to do — win election with a majority of the popular vote.

“We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of Communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own Country,” he tweeted.

Trump has consistently tried to use the Jewish state as a wedge issue to portray Democrats as anti-Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by his fawning obsequiousness, has been one of Trump’s chief enablers.  The president may try to portray himself as a good friend of Israel and the Jews but his years in politics are rife with anti-Semitic tropes and other examples of that bigotry.

Many Jewish organizations condemned the president’s attacks. Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called Trump “America’s ‘Racist in Chief’.”

The silence of GOP leaders in Congress – notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) —  and the tardy criticism of a handful of others speaks volumes of today’s Republican party.

It does the party no honor when its leaders put their integrity in a blind trust to better serve a president who cares nothing about his party or its representatives in Congress beyond what they can do for him.

There is no Republican today like Joseph Welch, the lawyer representing the U.S. Army who 65 years ago stood up to the Trump of his time, the vile demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI).

Welch will forever have an honored place in American history for having calmly looked at McCarthy and said, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”

Netanyahu should be speaking out against making the Jewish state a wedge issue for Trump instead of giving silent acquiescence. Does he not understand how much he already has done to drive many American Jews away from Israel and this will only deepen the chasm?

But Trump isn’t worried.  Support for his attack from his white supremacists followers reinforces his view that “many people agree with me,” he told reporters. The man whose message to his base is “I hate all the people you hate” is confident there will be no political price to pay for his bigotry, not here or in Israel.

Some of the non-white lawmakers he’s attacked are harsh critics of Israel and may even be anti-Semites, but to make Israel an issue in his tweetstorm is a great disservice to the Jewish state and the Jewish people by trying to turn that into a partisan weapon for his racism.

He apparently started this firestorm to distract from a string of setbacks last week on the citizenship question on the census, immigration raids that fizzled, a scrapped drug pricing plan and the resignation of his labor secretary.  He told a group of social media conservatives at the White House that he uses tweets to change the conversation and kick-start a new news cycle.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she intends to bring a resolution before the House this week condemning “the president’s xenophobic tweets.”  I hope she doesn’t let it get watered down as was done an earlier effort to condemn anti-Semitism.  A straightforward condemnation of the President’s racist tweets will give Republicans a chance to take a moral stand.

I wonder if Trump noticed the irony in his own tweets as he attacked his targets for adopting his specialty: “foul language and racist hatred.”

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.