Don­ald Trump is no an­ti­semite

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Me­lanie Phillips

PRES­I­DENT DON­ALD Trump seems to be a man who thinks (and tweets) from his gut. He ap­pears emo­tional, self-ab­sorbed and im­pul­sive. His lan­guage is care­less and in­ac­cu­rate. He shoots his mouth off re­peat­ing some­thing he’s seen or heard on Fox News or talk ra­dio which as of­ten as not turns out to be false.

All these things are alarm­ing and in­de­fen­si­ble. Nev­er­the­less, the un­prece­dented dis­tor­tion, fab­ri­ca­tion, se­lec­tive re­port­ing, dou­ble stan­dards, wrench­ing out of con­text and char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion by as­so­ci­a­tion in the main­stream me­dia’s gen­eral ap­proach to Trump has cre­ated a false and self-repli­cat­ing nar­ra­tive.

As a rule, I don’t use my columns to crit­i­cise re­marks made by a col­league on the same pa­per. I con­sider it rather bad man­ners. How­ever, since Jonathan Freed­land sin­gled me out for wrong-head­ed­ness in his col­umn last week, I fear I must re­ply.

Jonathan is clearly as­ton­ished that I should think Trump is one of the most pro-Jewish US pres­i­dents ever to be elected, since Jonathan seems to think Trump is one of the most anti-Jewish pres­i­dents ever to be elected.

He cites as ev­i­dence the omis­sion from the White House state­ment mark­ing Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day of any men­tion of Jews or an­ti­semitism. He claims as a fact that Trump of­fi­cials stripped all such ref­er­ence from an ini­tial State De­part­ment draft. He jux­ta­poses these of­fi­cials’ claim that they wanted to be “in­clu­sive” to­wards all who suf­fered un­der the Nazis with his ob­ser­va­tion that the omis­sion de­lighted “Amer­ica’s far right and white su­prem­a­cists”.

He fails to men­tion that a White House of­fi­cial said Trump’s team had not seen the State draft be­fore pub­lish­ing its own and had ad­vised it not to re­lease the sec­ond state­ment late in the day.

I said at the time that omit­ting Jews from the Holo­caust state­ment was very wrong. But I also noted the wide­spread lib­eral ap­proach, which sim­i­larly down­plays Jewish vic­tim­i­sa­tion in the Holo­caust in or­der to be “in­clu­sive”.

In­deed Hil­lary Clin­ton, when Sec­re­tary of State, is­sued a state­ment on Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day 2013 which made no men­tion what­ever of Jews or an­ti­semitism –— although it did men­tion the “Roma, gays, per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties and oth­ers deemed in­fe­rior or un­de­sir­able by the Nazis” whose lives were “bru­tally taken”.

Did Jonathan note at the time that Clin­ton’s omis­sion sim­i­larly de­lighted “Amer­ica’s far right and white su­prem­a­cists”?

Next, Jonathan cites the way Trump ac­cused a Jewish re­porter, Jake Turx, of ly­ing and told him to shut up when Turx sought his views on the an­tisemitic in­ci­dents surg­ing across the US.

Trump’s be­hav­iour was in­deed shock­ing. But if you look at it in con­text, with Trump mad­dened by near-daily charges of an­ti­semitism, it’s quite clear that he sim­ply heard that word and went off like a rocket — not even hear­ing that poor Turx said he wasn’t blam­ing Trump for the out­break.

Trump’s out­burst was a char­ac­ter flaw. He sim­ply hadn’t lis­tened. To see this as ev­i­dence of an­ti­semitism, how­ever, makes no sense of what ac­tu­ally oc­curred.

The clincher, though, ac­cord­ing to Jonathan, is that when asked about the wave of bomb threats to Jewish cen­tres Trump spec­u­lated that, rather than tak­ing these in­ci­dents at face value, peo­ple should con­sider that “some­times it’s the re­verse, to make peo­ple — or to make oth­ers — look bad.”

Ac­cord­ing to Jonathan, Trump could mean only one thing by this word “re­verse” — that Jews them­selves had in­vented these threats in the “clas­sic an­tisemitic trope” that they were falsely claim­ing to be vic­tims of at­tack to win them­selves un­de­served sym­pa­thy.

But this is demon­stra­bly ab­surd. If Trump had lit­er­ally meant the “re­verse” of an­tisemitic at­tacks, he would have been claim­ing Jews were at­tack­ing non-Jewish tar­gets. Which clearly wasn’t hap­pen­ing.

Trump speaks loosely and in­ac­cu­rately. From the con­text, it was ab­so­lutely clear he was sug­gest­ing these were “false flag” at­tacks — black-ops by un­spec­i­fied en­e­mies to dam­age him. Rightly or wrongly, Trump firmly be­lieves his en­e­mies per­pe­trated such at­tacks at his ral­lies to smear him with the taint of vi­o­lence. That, not an anti-Jewish ca­nard, was ob­vi­ously what was in his mind.

He is cur­rently con­fus­ing many by cud­dling up to the Pales­tini­ans after love­bomb­ing Is­rael. Whether this sig­nals an im­pend­ing Mid­dle East pol­icy car-crash or deal-mak­ing ge­nius re­mains to be seen.

Trump’s sym­pa­thy for the Jewish peo­ple, how­ever, is re­vealed in what he has writ­ten, said and done over the years. The an­ti­semitism charges are just fake news.

Hil­lary’s 2013 HMD state­ment also did not men­tion Jews

Me­lanie Phillips is a Times colum­nist

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