Was The Nick Fuentes-Ye Dinner The Last Straw?
Trump will have no problem with his Hasidic followers over the Mar-A-Lago dinner. They’re in their own world, a world Trump has tapped into. There are Hasidic precincts in Brooklyn where Trump got upwards of 90% of the vote. They don’t know from Nick Fuentes or Ye and Trump will always own that bloc… which isn’t big enough to swing anything meaningful his way.
The more mainstream conservative Republican Jews are where Trump’s problem is now, at least according to the NY Times’ Jonathan Weisman. The Jews whose personal greed and devotion to Israel have caused them to rationalize away the bigotry surrounding Trump, are starting to abandon him. They do understand who Ye and Nick Fuentes are. “Now,” wrote Weisman, “even some of Trump’s staunchest supporters say they can no longer ignore the abetting of bigotry by the nominal leader of the Republican Party. ‘I am a child of survivors. I have become very frightened for my people,’ Morton Klein, head of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, said on Monday, referring to his parents’ survival of the Holocaust. ‘Donald Trump is not an antisemite. He loves Israel. He loves Jews. But he mainstreams, he legitimizes Jew hatred and Jew haters. And this scares me.’ Not all Republican leaders have spoken out, but Jewish Republicans are slowly peeling away from a former president who, for years, insisted he had no ties to the bigoted far right, but refused to repudiate it. Jewish figures and organizations that have stood by Trump, from Klein’s group to the pro-Trump commentator Shapiro to Trump’s own former ambassador to Israel and onetime bankruptcy lawyer, David Friedman, have all spoken out since the dinner.”
Trump had already been hemorrhaging some of his top Jewish campaign contributors, like Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone and the widow Adelson, and this latest brouhaha is going to encourage more wealthy Jewish Republicans to move their allegiance to pro-Israel, pro-tax cuts potential Trump rivals like Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence.
For Jews, the concern extends far beyond a single meal at Mar-a-Lago, though that dinner has become a touchstone, especially for Jewish Republicans.
“We have a long history in this country of separating the moral character of the man in the White House from his conduct in office, but with Trump, it’s gone beyond any of the reasonably acceptable and justifiable norms,” Jay Lefkowitz, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a supporter of many of Trump’s policies, said on Monday.
For American Jewry, the debate since the dinner has brought into focus what may be the most discomfiting moment in U.S. history in a half-century or more.
“The normalization of antisemitism is here,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.
…“The level of antisemitism being expressed [by Elon Musk, Marjorie Traitor Greene and Paul Gosar], antisemitic acts at a very elevated level, and the acceptability of antisemitism— it is all creating an environment which is, thank God, unusual for the United States, and it has to be nipped in the bud. That’s it. That’s the moment we’re in,” said Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, which represents the branch of Judaism that has been most supportive of Trump.
Peter Hayes, a Northwestern University historian, drew comparisons to the 1930s, when popular figures like Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin used newspapers, radio broadcasts and the speakers circuit to echo the antisemitism then taking root in Germany. American Jews were deeply divided over whether to confront Nazism head-on through protests and boycotts or to work behind the scenes out of fear of inflaming antisemitism, said Hayes, a scholar of that era.
…Trump tried during his presidency to keep the racists and antisemites who supported him at an arm’s distance without banishing them altogether. Many Jews accepted the sleight of hand because his policies delivered gift after gift to the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu: moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, relentlessly pressuring the Palestinians, recognizing the annexation of the Golan Heights, scuttling the nuclear accord with Iran, pursuing peace accords between Israel and the Gulf States, and above all, dropping any pressure to dismantle Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
…Trump’s excuses for dining with Fuentes and Ye— that he didn’t know the white supremacist and was offering his help to the musician— have fallen short. On Monday, Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, wrote on Twitter, “President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites. These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, denounced the dinner as well.
[Far right nut Ben] Shapiro, who came under near-constant attack in 2016 from neo-Nazi Trump supporters but stood by Trump at the time nonetheless, also rejected the former president’s excuses: “A good way not to accidentally dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you don’t know is not to dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you do know,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
The Orthodox Union not only called on Trump to condemn his dinner guests and cut all ties with them, but also asked “responsible leaders— especially those in the Republican Party— to speak up, as former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has, and be counted among those who explicitly reject antisemitism.” Quoting the Talmud, Rabbi Hauer, the group’s executive vice president, said Trump’s good deeds on Israel did not negate his bad deeds on hate, and vice versa.
…The Republican Jewish Coalition’s initial statement condemned Fuentes and Ye for their “virulent antisemitism” but did not mention the former president, instead calling “on all political leaders to reject their messages of hate and refuse to meet with them.”
Facing criticism, Matt Brooks, the group’s executive director, then followed with, “Let me dumb it down for y’all. We didn’t mention Trump in our @rjc statement even though it’s obviously in response to his meeting because we wanted it to be a warning to ALL Republicans. Duh!”
…For his part, Trump shows no signs of contrition. His spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, told a right-wing broadcaster on Monday that Trump was “probably the most pro-Israel president we’ve ever had,” then added: “President Trump is not going to shy away from meeting with Kanye West.”
Some non-Jewish Republicans are concerned about Trump's not so subtle decision to appeal to anti-Semites. Remember when Mitt Romney ate snails to please Trump at a job interview? Yesterday Romney sneered, “There’s no bottom to the degree which he’s willing to degrade himself and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting.” Miss Lindsey, of course, was... just Miss Lindsey: “The meeting was bad, he shouldn't have done it. But again, you know, there's a double standard about this kind of stuff. And I don't think it'll matter in terms of his political future, but I do believe we need to watch who we meet with.” Miss Lindsey has always been very, very, very super-careful about making sure no one sees who he meets with.
Even KKK singin' idol, evangelical lunatic Pat Boone, has had enough of Trump, although only because he's in trouble, not because of why he's in trouble. "I don’t think there are enough Republicans who would vote for him so he could be elected. But he was his own worst enemy in his manner and his speech. And he made so many enemies that, while he could be a great president again if he muted his speech and all of that— which I’m not sure he’s capable of— I would advise him, ‘Please don’t run. I think you will divide the Republican Party even more.’ Sure, there are a few million people that will support him no matter what. But I think— because of the implacable, unmovable enemies he’s created, even in the Republican Party— that he would not be elected."