What Donald Trump has said about Jews
The president has helped spread dangerous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories
Anti-Semitism is on the rise. One major force behind this increase is surely President Donald Trump, who has frequently pushed anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories, and repeatedly refused to condemn anti-Semites.
Let's review some history, broken into four categories.
1) Israel loyalty
In the recent controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) criticizing Israel, conservatives accused her of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes about Jews having "dual loyalty" to Israel. While she never actually said anything like that, as Eli Valley points out, she could have phrased her comments better to avoid causing unnecessary offense (and indeed she has done so since that time).
But Trump has said something far, far worse than even what the most bad-faith critics of Omar accused her of saying. In a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in April, he said that recently reelected Benjamin Netanyahu was "your prime minister." Instead of implying dual loyalty, he all but said Jews aren't actually Americans at all, because they have single loyalty to Israel. As Josh Marshall writes, it's "as though American Jews are somehow an expat community of Israelis resident in the United States." (The conservatives who had a purple-faced screaming fit about Omar mysteriously didn't raise a fuss about this.)
2) Jews and money
One of the oldest stereotypes about Jews is that they are all money-grubbing chislers — a prejudice that was at the root of countless medieval pogroms. Trump has implied or straight-up said this many times. In a 1991 book, John O'Donnell, the former president of the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, said Trump had told him: "Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day." He later called O'Donnell a "loser" in an interview with Playboy, but allowed that, "The stuff O'Donnell wrote about me is probably true."
In December 2015, Trump gave a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition and said, "I'm a negotiator like you folks, we are negotiators ... Is there anybody that doesn't renegotiate deals in this room? This room negotiates them — perhaps more than any other room I've ever spoken in." He also asserted they wouldn't support him because he couldn't be bought: "You're not going to support me because I don't want your money. Isn't it crazy?"
In July 2016, he tweeted an image attacking Hillary Clinton, originating from the notorious cesspit 8chan, displaying a star of David over a pile of cash (he later deleted it).
3) Refusing to criticize rabid anti-Semites
When asked by Jake Tapper in February 2016 to denounce former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Trump refused, saying "I just don't know anything about him." (Though he did grudgingly disavow his endorsement at other times.)
After the extreme right-wing rally at Charlottesville in August 2017, where torch-wielding mobs chanted "Jews will not replace us," and one neo-Nazi terrorist drove his car into a crowd, injuring 19 people and killing one, Trump at first condemned the extreme right. But the next day he walked back his own statement, insisting that the violence was also the fault of the "alt-left," and defended the rally attendees, saying there were "some very fine people on both sides."
4) Conspiracy theories
Probably the worst anti-Semitic propaganda Trump has pushed is the classic conspiracy theory that Jews control world politics and the global economy. In the last days of the 2016 campaign, he rolled out an ad featuring three rich Jews — then-Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and financier George Soros — over a narration decrying "those who control the levers of power in Washington," and the "global special interests" who "partner with these people who don't have your good in mind." The obvious implication is that Hillary Clinton is a cat's paw for a global Jewish conspiracy. As Josh Marshall writes, "These are standard anti-Semitic themes and storylines, using established anti-Semitic vocabulary."
Trump has focused particular ire on George Soros in this vein. He baselessly accused him of funding protesters of Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and suggested Soros could be funding the refugee caravan — lending credence to the conspiracy theory that world Jewry is conspiring to bring immigrants into the United States to replace white people (thus the "Jews will not replace us" chant referenced above).
It bears repeating that this kind of thing is very close to what you find in Mein Kampf. But you don't have to look at history to see the danger of spreading this sort of poison. A Trump supporter sent a pipe bomb to Soros' house (as well as 15 other high-profile liberals) last year. The right-wing terrorist who massacred 11 Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last October espoused the exact same conspiracy theory about refugees. This is simply the kind of thing that happens when the most powerful person in the world is constantly spewing anti-Semitic propaganda.
But Trump isn't going to stop. As to the attempted bombing, he mainly complained that it interrupted his campaign narrative. "Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this 'Bomb' stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows," he tweeted.
Indulging Trump out of a perception that he is pro-Israel, or is delivering the tax cuts American oligarchs crave (as GOP elites like Sheldon Adelson have done), is extraordinarily dangerous for Jews across the world — and indeed minorities of any kind, especially Muslims. If we want to stamp out racist hate in this country, the obvious first step is to remove Trump from office, either by impeachment or the ballot box.