NEW YORK – Over the course of his campaign, the discourse of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has offended many groups in the United States: Hispanics, African-Americans, women, Jews and Muslims have all felt targeted at least once.
Jewish groups came out against Donald Trump last week after he tweeted an image depicting Hillary Clinton against a backdrop of cash and a six-sided star, which he later said was meant to be a sheriff’s star.
And, in the wake of the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando last month, the candidate also reiterated his conviction that a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States should be put in place.
Despite these controversies, however, some Jews and Muslims have decided not only to vote for Trump, but to campaign to convince others in their communities to do so, as well.
Eve Stieglitz and Sajid Tarar are both members of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, a group of more than 50 representatives from dozens of minority communities in the United States established in April by Michael Cohen, adviser and special counsel at the Trump organization, with the goal of “recruiting, mobilizing and educating voters to help elect Donald Trump in November 2016,” according to the coalition’s website.
The group held its first meeting with the Republican National Convention team last week to discuss strategy for the general election in November. Both Stieglitz and Tarar attended.
Stieglitz, who represents Jewish American women in the coalition, was contacted to volunteer to take part in the initiative after some media appearances in which she defended the Republican candidate on American and Israeli Television.
“I started becoming interested in Donald Trump’s campaign ever since I attended his campaign announcement almost exactly a year ago,” she told The Jerusalem Post.
“After I heard him speak live at AIPAC in Washington DC, I felt confident that he was going to win the nomination.”
Stieglitz explained that her biggest concerns are the economy, with stagnant salaries and rising cost of living, and foreign policy, specifically, the “damage” caused by the Iran deal.
“It’s a huge threat to America, and obviously to Israel,” she said. “I don’t want a continuation of Obama’s foreign policy. That would be like shooting ourselves in the foot. Look at what’s happening in the Middle East.”
“Countries respect strength, not appeasement,” she added.
But convincing the American Jewish community to vote for Trump may not be an easy task. American Jews historically tend to line up with the Democratic Party at some 70 percent.
Stieglitz, however, believes a shift in Jewish voting patterns is under way, especially in the post-Iran deal era. “The large majority of Zionist Jews, I hate to compartmentalize but really the patriotic Zionist Jews, especially those who are against the Iran deal, are 1,000% for Trump,” she told the Post.
“It is very clear that he is going to be absolutely the best for Israel.”
Many Jews, she said, simply do not want to admit they are voting for Trump.
“I think some people are scared because of the mainstream media and how Hillary’s camp is trying to silence people by name calling ‘racist’ and all that,” she said.
Pakistan-born Muslim American Tarar also has decided to dedicate much of his time to campaigning for Trump.
Tarar, who came to the United States in his twenties to study law and is the father of four American children, told the Post
that when Trump announced for the presidency, the candidate’s message immediately resonated with him.
“I was part of the angry Americans who saw that traditional politicians, career politicians, legacy politics have failed America,” he said. “He is an outsider, has never been in political office before, has a self-funded campaign and never had some ivy-league staffer writing his speeches.”
When asked about Trump’s controversial comments regarding the ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, Tarar told the Post:
“I’m with him.”
“Radical Islam is not only a threat to Western civilization, it is a threat to itself,” he said. “I, as a Muslim, I am a victim. ISIS, Taliban, al-Qaida, they have killed more Muslims than anybody else.”
Tarar founded a small organization entitled “Muslims for Trump” about five months ago in his hometown of Baltimore and has several hundred followers.
“The California shooting happened and our immigration system failed to see it, to predict it,” he explained.
“This current administration and Hillary Clinton want to bring Syrian refugees here. Why? Why don’t they go to the Muslim countries? Why don’t they go to Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia? Why do they want to cross the Atlantic and come all the way here?” “If somebody doesn’t agree with American values or doesn’t like the American lifestyle, they’ve got nothing to do here,” Tarar said.
“The people who are escaping those terror-reign countries like Iraq and Syria, they’re being educated to hate the West, to hate Americans, kill Jews and hate Jews,” Steiglitz added.
“Before they come to our country, they need to be educated with American and Western values and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that.”
Both Steiglitz and Tarar admit, however, that Trump’s impulsive and controversial comments sometimes make their task of bringing their communities to the Trump camp more difficult.
“They were taking me as a traitor, as a non-Muslim. They even asked me if Donald Trump is paying me,” Tarar, who has received death threats from people in Arab countries around the world, told the Post
. “But I tell them what radical Islam is and I tell them: ‘You are a victim yourself.’”
While they agree that the Republican candidate should moderate his tone when formulating his ideas, Stieglitz and Tarar think a change in discourse is already happening, especially since Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
“I think the campaign, as a whole, admittedly wasn’t well organized,” Stieglitz said. “I agree that he needs to be more specific, but I think after the convention, we’ll see much more of that.”
According to Tarar, while Trump’s message is full of nuances, the liberal media is to blame for portraying his ideas in a very “black and white” manner. After the Republican convention next week, Tarar said he is planning on dedicating 50% of his time to supporting the campaign.