Any student of Jewish history and anti-Semitism will tell you that philo-semitism is often just a slight distance from anti-Semitism. President Trump is a good example of this. This weekend he spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition, a Jewish Republican activist group. He was a big hit, not surprisingly. But he repeatedly talked about Jews as though they were a monolith not giving him enough credit for helping Israel or indeed actually Israeli citizens.
At one point he started asking the very right-wing crowd, how did “you” support Obama and the Democrats? The very much trying to cheer crowd could be heard saying, um wait, no we’re Republican Jews. We never supported Obama or the Democrats. Later he asked the Jews in the crowd “Maybe you can explain that to some of your people, who say, ‘we don’t like tariffs!'”
Far more jarring, when Trump bragged about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, he told the crowd – all American Jews – “I stood with your Prime Minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Trump tells Jewish Republicans: “I stood with your Prime Minister at the White House.” pic.twitter.com/h15oC7jYep
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 6, 2019
This comes up again and again.
Back in October when the President visited Pittsburgh after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, the White House arranged for the President to meet Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer at the front gates of the synagogue. It was as though American Jews are somehow an expat community of Israelis resident in the United States. This is a vision both Trump and the current Israeli government are eager to cultivate.
This is a touchy subject. Many will disagree with me. But I find it offensive and bizarre that this was choreographed so that the Israeli Ambassador is the one who greeted the President first at the Tree of Life synagogue. The Prez is not visiting Israel. pic.twitter.com/VFH9Y45Qq8
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 30, 2018
Rep. Ilhan Omar was I believe rightly criticized for using stereotypes and charged language freighted to a history of anti-Semitic charges of dual loyalty. But President Trump blows right past that. Trump doesn’t talk about dual loyalty. He doesn’t seem to see American Jews as Americans at all. Just Israelis who happen to live in the US. This may sound like hyperbole. But again, he repeatedly calls Benjamin Netanyahu the Jews Prime Minister and refers to Israel the actual country of Jews who live in America. Your Prime Minister. He pats Ron Dermer on the head to express condolences when his spun up with supremacist supporters massacre Jews in a synagogue. He tears into American Jews for supporting Democrats even after he moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Many right wing Jews are happy to chuckle and look away or just ignore this stuff because he’s delivering on things that matter to them. Certainly the current Israeli government could not be happier with the current bargain.
This is why Trump was happy to close the 2016 campaign with a campaign commercial rife with anti-Semitic imagery and stereotypes and festooned with Jewish financiers feasting on the patrimony of real Americans. Because Jews are outsiders and the wrong kind of Jews are a convenient scapegoat and it doesn’t matter because they are outsiders.
Trump’s an anti-Semite. The fact that he has Jews handle his money or even has a Jewish son-in-law doesn’t change that. Indeed, quite the contrary. I mean, just remember, Islamophobia was one of the calling cards of Trump’s entire campaign. It’s one of the main themes of his presidency. And yet he’s now best buds with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Don’t be looking for consistency here or distracted by it’s opposite.
To Trump, Jews are outsiders. In some cases helpful outsiders but outsiders nonetheless. Trump’s an anti-Semite.