First, the context.
Last month, former President Trump had dinner at Mar-a-Logo with Ye West and Nick Fuentes. Ye has had his own spate of recent, public antisemitic speech and Fuentes is a known antisemite. According to NBC, Ye and Trump “had arranged to break bread Tuesday night at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida after weeks of private phone conversations as Ye lost lucrative partnerships and became a mainstream cultural pariah for his antisemitic remarks.”
According to Wikipedia (and other sources), Fuentes is “an American white supremacist, political commentator and live streamer. A former YouTuber, his channel was permanently suspended in February 2020 for violating YouTube’s hate speech policy. He holds antisemitic views and denies the Holocaust. Fuentes self-identifies as a member of the incel movement, as a supporter of authoritarian government, and as a Catholic integralist and Christian nationalist….(h)e has encouraged the use of jokes and irony among white nationalist groups, stating that it “is so important for giving a lot of cover and plausible deniability for our views.” To that end, Fuentes has been quoted saying, “So, you’re either a Catholic or you’re a Jew. You’re either a Catholic or you’re with the Jews. That’s how it is. That’s the way the world is.” and “I want this country to have Catholic media, Catholic Hollywood, Catholic government. I want this to be a Catholic-occupied government, not a Jewish-occupied government.”
Now to the reaction.
The Mar-a-Largo dinner prompted an outpouring of outrage among Jewish Republicans from folks like Morton Klein, head of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, who said on Monday, “ I am a child of survivors. I have become very frightened for my people….he mainstreams, he legitimizes Jew hatred and Jew haters. And this scares me.” Now Mr. Klein does not consider Trump to be antisemitic, which is understandable given his politics, but I believe that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Or if you need a more graphic, but perhaps more apt truism, if it looks like shit, smells like shit, and tastes like shit, you can be very certain that it is indeed shit.
Other Jewish Republicans were not so careful. The New York Times reports that “Jewish figures and organizations that have stood by Mr. Trump, from Mr. Klein’s group to the pro-Trump commentator Ben Shapiro to Mr. Trump’s own former ambassador to Israel and onetime bankruptcy lawyer, David M. Friedman, have all spoken out since the dinner.”
And, of course, some important non-Jews have joined the chorus, with Mitch McConnell saying ““There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy. And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”
It has become apparent that Trump was out-maneuvered by Ye and Milo Yiannopoulos, the anti-Trump, far-right provocateur who is now acting as a political adviser to Ye. He got trolled.
And, finally, getting to the core question.
Where the hell have you been?
Now, after losing an Presidential and underperforming in the mid-term elections, now Jewish Republicans and some non-Jewish Republicans express their outrage? This after they went radio silent the past 6-plus years as they ignored all the evidence that Donald Trump is either an antisemite, or prone to making antisemitic remarks, or willing to tolerate and encourage antisemites or some combination of all three?
To those who have been silent until now, I say don’t hide behind some blather about how Trump was good for Israel. True or not, you are American Jews. You listened to the man say things like “I want a Jew handling my money,” and “nice people on both sides” referring to the folks carrying Nazi flags in Charlottesville among a number of other utterances. Trump is the man who accused all of us of dual loyalty, and really, of less loyalty to the United States than Israel. In speaking of Israel to American Jews, he referred to Israel as “your country” and Israeli leaders as “your prime minister” and “your ambassador”. Through all this and more, silence from the Republicans, including the Jewish ones.
It is safe to say that when it comes to Trump talking about Jews, he only opens his mouth to change feet. What he did (or did not) do for Israel is, quite frankly, irrelevant. When it comes to American Jews, he’s an antisemite. Pure and simple. He believes the dual loyalty nonsense (which, by the way, is only reinforced by the right-wing Jews who support Trump for what he did for Israel). He believes in all the stereotypes and memes. He has promoted and flown cover for white supremacists and racists since before he was elected.
Trump may or may not have been “good for Israel” but he is decidedly not good for the United States and specifically not good for Jewish Americans.
Stop kidding yourself. To quote Dr. Maya Angelou, “”When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” And we are way past the first time.