In February 2017, asked what the government planned to do about the uptick in threats to Jewish centers and the rise in anti-Semitism since his election, Donald Trump responded, “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” That claim, like the one he would make a few months later about being “the least racist person there is anywhere in the world,” obviously was and remains not true at all. How do we know? Let’s examine the evidence!
Prior to being elected, Trump suggested to a room full of Jewish people that they “control” politicians through money. He tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton’s face atop a pile of cash next to the Star of David and the phrase, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” And he capped off his campaign by releasing an ad featuring the faces of powerful Jewish people with an ominous voiceover about them comprising a “global power structure” that has “robbed our working class” and “stripped our country of its wealth.”
Later, upon moving into the White House, and just six months after his claim of being the least anti-Semitic person in the universe, he refused to condemn a group whose ranks included neo-Nazis. In August 2019, in an attempt to win over (???) Jewish voters, he declared “they don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore.” Speaking at the Israeli American Council in Hollywood, Florida, that December, he “dipp[ed] into a deep well of anti-Semitic tropes,” suggesting, among other things, that Jews only care about money.
And if you thought leaving the White House or, say, this season of cheer, would have dampened his enthusiasm for anti-Semitic remarks, do we have a fun surprise for you!
In clips aired on the Unholy podcast, the former president—who may or may not make another run for office in 2024—went on a lengthy rant about how American Jews supposedly aren’t loyal enough to Israel, invoking a longtime anti-Semitic trope about Jewish people and allegiances to another countries. Speaking to journalist Barak Ravid, who appeared on the podcast, Trump said: “There’s people in this country that are Jewish that no longer love Israel. I’ll tell you the Evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country. It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress and today I think it’s the exact opposite, and I think [Barack] Obama and [Joe] Biden did that. And yet in the election, they still get a lot of votes from Jewish people…which tells you that the Jewish people, and I’ve said this for a long time. The Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel. I mean, you look at The New York Times, The New York Times hates Israel, hates them, and they’re Jewish people that run The New York Times, I mean the Sulzberger family.”
Yes, it’s a real Mad Libs of anti-Jewish commentary from a guy whose allies like to remind people he has Jewish grandchildren, which, in fact, doesn’t mean one can’t be anti-Semitic. There’s the overarching charge that American Jews vote against their own interests when they vote for politicians who supposedly don’t support Israel, the subtext being that American Jews should care more about what happens in Israel than in the U.S. There’s the line about Evangelical Christians loving Israel “more than the Jews” in this country, which fails to include the uncomfortable fact that some Evangelical Christians “love” Israel because they believe it will be the site of the Rapture, wherein Jews who have not converted to Christianity will go to hell. And then, of course, there’s the classic anti-Semitic trope about Jews controlling the media, in this case, The New York Times. (Naturally, Trump does not mention that fact that the patriarch of the Sulzberger family and former Times company chairman, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.,was “raised in his mother’s Episcopalian faith and later stopped practicing religion. He and his [then] wife, Gail Gregg, were married by a Presbyterian minister.” But perhaps he’s just going by Nuremberg laws.)
(c) 2021, Vanity Fair