The Irony of Democrats Calling Donald Trump Anti-Semitic
Anyone who has followed me over the last 12 months knows that I am not a Donald Trump surrogate. I was an early endorser of Ted Cruz and have often been critical of the presumptive Republican nominee. But at no point did I feel he was an anti-Semite.
If you’re an anti-Semite, you don’t embrace a Jewish son-in-law, much less embrace your own daughter converting to Judaism (which means your grandchildren will be considered Jewish), much less take public pride in this. In this regard, it’s important to hear what Jared Kushner, the Jewish son-in-law of whom I speak, says about his father-in-law, Donald Trump.
It’s also doubtful that you could have the New York business connections Trump has while being an anti-Semite, and if you’re really anti-Semitic, you don’t give strong, pro-Israel assurances to evangelical leaders, even if you’re pandering for their votes.
While only God knows what Trump would do if elected, I do believe that he wants to be a friend of Israel — notwithstanding previous comments he made regarding wanting to maintain a neutral posture between Israel and the Palestinians until elected — and I’m not one who’s easily duped when it comes to Israel and anti-Semitism.
I’ve written about anti-Semitism in Church history and have delivered lectures on worldwide anti-Semitism, and I can certainly spot an anti-Semite, many of whom are proud of their antagonism towards the Jewish people and their hostility to Israel.
The fact that many White Supremacists are anti-Semites and that some White Supremacists support Trump does not by extension make him an anti-Semite (unless you truly believe that he has not denounced these followers quickly enough because he agrees with them), and in my opinion, the near-hysterical attacks on Trump for retweeting an anti-Hillary meme with an apparent Jewish star are absolutely baseless.
You could easily argue that he should have spotted the Star of David image immediately (he and his team have claimed it was a sheriff’s star and argued that the six-pointed star is featured in other, non-Jewish settings), and you could condemn him for not recognizing the original source of the meme (a White Supremacist), but again, in my view, it is misguided to accuse him of anti-Semitism because of this meme.
That’s why my good friend and frequent debating opponent Rabbi Shmuley Boteach could be critical of Trump’s lack of Jewish values while also decrying the idea that he was anti-Semite. He wrote, “But Trump a Jew-hater? Let’s not be ridiculous.”
What makes these attacks on Trump so ironic, though, is the fact that the ones most aggressively attacking Trump are Democrats, yet solidarity with Israel has not been one of the strengths of the Obama administration.
It is widely known that the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has been quite strained, and four years ago, there was overt hostility expressed towards Israel at the Democratic National Convention, with many delegates publicly voicing their opposition to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
This year, “The Democratic Party platform drafting committee is top heavy with veterans of political battles over Israel — some friendly, some critical, and including at least one major backer of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement.”
Significantly, three of the committee members selected by Bernie Sanders are “Cornel West, a philosopher and social activist; James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress” and they “are known in part for their criticisms of Israel.”
Indeed, “West is a prominent BDS backer and Zogby has spoken forcefully against attempts to marginalize the movement.”
Clearly, though, “The standout appointment is West, a fiery speaker who has called the Gaza Strip ‘the “hood” on steroids’ and, in 2014, wrote that the crimes of Hamas ‘pale in the face of the U.S. supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians.’”
In an open letter to Prof. West in 2015, Judea Pearl, who is Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science and Statistics at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, urged West to excuse himself from delivering a commemorative lecture at UCLA on a noted Jewish intellectual, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
She pointed to West’s support of the BDS movement, a movement rightly condemned for its militant anti-Israel bias. She also pointed to an Aug. 12, 2014, interview with Sean Hannity in which West “could not find even one historical link between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. None! Nada! Blank! Not one word of empathy for a multiethnic society of immigrants who’ve fought 67 years of besiegement and hostility. None! Nada! Blank!”
As for Bernie Sanders, although nominally Jewish, he has hardly been a friend of Israel, and he remained committed to making an impact on his party’s platform this year.
Yet it is not Sanders or West who find themselves in the crosshairs of accusations of anti-Semitism, but it is Donald Trump, primarily over a retweeted meme.
This is not just ironic; it is downright hypocritical.
By all means, if you’re a Democrat, call out Trump on that meme if you question his judgment. But do it while requiring your own party to live up to the same standard, and point the finger where it belongs, placing the positions of Cornel West and others side by side with those of Trump.
Then we’ll see whose positions smack more of anti-Semitism.