Hate surges in Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MICHAEL GOLDFARB …

A FIFTH wave of an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents was un­leashed ear­lier this week in the US, and it hit me where I used to live. A Jewish ceme­tery in Philade­phia was des­e­crated. I had to check if it was the one where my par­ents are buried. It wasn’t.

A JCC and a Jewish pri­mary school in Wyn­newood in the Philly sub­urbs, the town ad­ja­cent to where I grew up, re­ceived bomb threats. Thank­fully, no more than threats. So far, 100 such in­ci­dents across Amer­ica have been recorded since Don­ald Trump was in­au­gu­rated Pres­i­dent, ac­cord­ing to the Anti-Defama­tion League.

These in­ci­dents took place as a meet­ing of Jewish Repub­li­cans in Las Ve­gas was end­ing. The group had gath­ered un­der the aus­pices of bil­lion­aire casino owner and ma­jor Trump donor, Shel­don Adel­son.

Many in the Repub­li­can Jewish Coali­tion, founded with Adel­son money, are ner­vous about the Pres­i­dent’s re­sponse to these provo­ca­tions. At the Ve­gas gath­er­ing, at which Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence said that an­ti­semitism had “no place” in Amer­ica, they were told to be pa­tient.

That may be eas­ier said than done. At a Trump press con­fer­ence two weeks ago, Jake Turx, a Cha­sidic re­porter, asked him this ques­tion: “De­spite what some of my col­leagues may have been re­port­ing, I haven’t seen any­body in my com­mu­nity ac­cuse ei­ther your­self or any­one on your staff of be­ing an­ti­semitic. We un­der­stand that you have Jewish grand­chil­dren. You are their za­yde How­ever, what we are con­cerned about and what we haven’t re­ally heard be­ing ad­dressed is an uptick in an­ti­semitism and how the gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to take care of it… There are peo­ple com­mit­ting an­ti­semitic acts or threat­en­ing to— ”

At which point, Mr Trump told the re­porter to sit down and then be­rated him be­fore go­ing into the clas­sic “I’m not an an­ti­semite” de­fence.

It was the sec­ond time he had gone into a de­fen­sive crouch about an­ti­semitism rather than sim­ply state that he de­plored an­ti­semitic acts.

This, com­ing on top of a Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day mes­sage that some­how did not men­tion Jews, has even his sup­port­ers anx­ious.

Asked about the bomb threats in a meet­ing with state at­tor­ney gen­er­als on Tues­day af­ter­noon, Mr Trump ram­bled into con­spir­acy the­ory and said re­port­edly said, “the re­verse can be true”, a state­ment in­ter­preted by some as sug­gest­ing Jews them­selves could have been to blame.

Just as Mr Trump has split Amer­ica into war­ring camps with no mid­dle ground on which to meet, he seems to be di­vid­ing US Jewish opin­ion. Or re­con­fig­ur­ing it.

In the anti-Trump camp are the tra­di­tional lib­eral, Demo­cratic vot­ing Jews who never sup­ported the Pres­i­dent. They are joined by the neoCon­ser­va­tives like Bill Kris­tol and the two El­liots: Abrams and Cohen, in­tel­lec­tual ar­chi­tects of us­ing US mil­i­tary might to re­con­fig­ure the Mid­dle East so that it is more hos­pitable to Is­rael.

Then there are the Repub­li­can Jews, whose voices are loud and whose num­bers are hard to es­ti­mate. Just as there are shy Tories who will not tell poll­sters their vot­ing in­ten­tions, there are many shy Jewish Repub­li­cans who keep sh­tum about their vot­ing choices.

And that’s be­cause Mr Trump offers them, as Leon Hadar, a Trump sup­porter and colum­nist for var­i­ous con­ser­va­tive web­sites points out, the most pro-Is­rael stance of any pres­i­dent, “more ‘pro-Is­rael’ than many Is­raelis …”

The prob­lem is that with Mr Trump’s sup­port comes the Ban­non bag­gage. The Pres­i­dent’s most se­nior ad­viser, Stephen Ban­non, is a lead­ing fig­ure in white na­tion­al­ist cir­cles or the “alt-right”.

Be­fore jump­ing on the Trump train,

Mr Ban­non was chief ex­ec­u­tive of the on­line pub­li­ca­tion Bre­it­bart. He ac­knowl­edges that the alt-right has an­ti­semites among its ad­her­ents but de­nies the move­ment it­self is an­ti­semitic.

The key to un­der­stand­ing the split among Amer­ica’s right-wing Jews can be found in this irony.

The epony­mous founder of the web­site, An­drew Bre­it­bart, was Jewish. He de­cided to set up Bre­it­bart while on a trip to Is­rael. It was meant to be “a site that would be un­apolo­get­i­cally pro-free­dom and pro-Is­rael. We were sick of the anti-Is­rael bias of the main­stream me­dia and J-Street.”

Mr Bre­it­bart died ex­actly five years ago and, un­der Mr Ban­non, the site be­came Amer­ica’s most open space for nakedly an­ti­semitic con­ver­sa­tions. In the last year, sev­eral Jewish staffers left the pub­li­ca­tion over its tol­er­ance for the alt-right. Oth­ers have stayed out of loy­alty to Mr Ban­non and the Pres­i­dent.

The ques­tion is: how many acts of van­dal­ism and bomb threats will they tol­er­ate for a “more pro-Is­rael than many Is­raelis” for­eign pol­icy?

Trump seems to be re­mould­ing US Jewish opin­ion

Ma­jor an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents in the US since Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Vice Pres­i­dent Pence vis­it­ing the dam­aged Ch­esed Shel Emeth Ceme­tery in Philadel­phia last week

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