(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Republican Jewish leaders are expressing concern with rhetoric from Donald Trump that has shaken his party’s confidence in his campaign for the presidency this week.
In particular, Jewish figures in the GOP were taken aback by their nominee’s decision to attack the parents of Humayun Khan, an American soldier who died defending his fellow troops in Iraq in 2004.
After Humayun’s father took to the stage of the Democratic National Convention last month to challenge Trump on his commitment to the US Constitution’s promises of equal protection and religious liberty, Trump questioned whether their Muslim faith silenced his mother, Ghazala, and rendered his father, Khizr, partial to Islamic extremists.
Seth Klarman, one of the world’s highest- earning hedge-fund managers, announced his support for Clinton this week despite a long track record of donating to Republican candidates. Klarman is active in the Jewish world and has contributed to the American Jewish Committee, the Israel Project, and is the chairman of the board of the Times of Israel.
“His words and actions over the last several days are so shockingly unacceptable in our diverse and democratic society that it is simply unthinkable that Donald Trump could become our president,” said Klarman, worth an estimated $29 billion, who expressed particular concern over Trump’s suggestion that the election may be “rigged.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition has not mentioned Trump by name in a single tweet or press release since May – without exception throughout the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month, when he was formally nominated for president. But the group has consistently attacked Clinton for her role in “destabilizing” the Middle East, for “owning” the Iran nuclear deal and for “snubbing” Israel “at every turn” as secretary of state.
Trump addressed the RJC in December, suggesting the Jewish group consisted of “deal makers” like himself
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“I’m a negotiator like you folks; we are negotiators,” Trump said at the event. “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.”
Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under George W. Bush and one of the most prominent Jewish Republicans to come out in support of Trump, said on Wednesday that controversy over the Khan family and internal turmoil within the Trump campaign would distract from issues typically of concern to the Jewish community, such as the timing of a $400 million Hague tribunal settlement between the US and Iran coinciding with Tehran’s release of four American hostages.
“He’s made so many self-inflicted errors. If his staff isn’t frustrated, I’m frustrated,” Fleischer, who serves on the RJC’s board of directors, said on CNN earlier this week . “There is no way anybody who works communications on the campaign is not frustrated when the boss doesn’t take advice and goes after a Gold Star family.”
While the group remains committed to supporting the Republican nominee, RJC shares concerns with the direction Trump’s campaign has taken these last two weeks. An RJC spokesman said they support and respect US veteran families, and let Fleischer's comments stand for the group.
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