Will Donald Trump's antisemitic rendezvous end his political career?

MIDDLE ISRAEL: How does one reconcile Trump’s pro-Israeli record with his anti-Jewish associations and gaffes?

 DONALD TRUMP announces that he will once again run for president in the 2024 US presidential election, during an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 15 (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)
DONALD TRUMP announces that he will once again run for president in the 2024 US presidential election, during an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 15

Even the three bomb shelters tucked under the Mar-a-Lago’s 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms and 12 fireplaces were not built to sustain the blast its landlord just triggered from his fabled Floridian estate. 

It started after an aide who asked Trump “who’s coming to dinner,” heard two names of which the boss, if we are to believe him, knew little; certainly not their claims to notoriety. 

The subsequent conversation might have sounded roughly like this:

- Who? Kanye West and Nick Fuentes

- West? As in Rebecca West? Who the hell is she?

 - An author, she covered the Nuremberg Trials for The New Yorker.

- I don’t think they’re related; this one’s a rapper and – get a load of this – a fashion designer! 

- Ah, and that Fuentes guy. Wasn’t there once a Mexican drug lord by that name?

- Yeah, right. Do you think I’d invite here, to my very own presidential mansion, a Mexican criminal? This Fuentes dude is respectable – a broadcaster and believing Christian with a big following. 

Having thus finished the guests’ screening process, the evening then proceeded as planned, with the guests’ other claims to fame apparently coming to light only when the media explained to Trump who his guests were. 

West, Trump suddenly learned, had just threatened to go “death con 3 on Jewish people” and then said he was being targeted by “Zionist Jews” and by “a Jewish underground media mafia,” all of which conformed with his previous references to Jewish “control” and “financial engineering.”

As for Fuentes, if one is to believe Trump, when he wined and dined him he didn’t know the 24-year-old guy across the marble table is an antisemitic loudmouth, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist who agitated the rioters who stormed Capitol Hill.

THE IDENTITY of Trump’s guests, and the gravity of what he first did and then failed to undo, were made plain by some of his closest loyalists and blindest cheerleaders. 

Chief among the loyalists was David Friedman, the lawyer who managed Trump’s bankruptcies before becoming his ambassador to the Jewish state. “You are better than this,” tweeted Friedman, and then added: “Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable. I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history.”

Trump did nothing of the sort, not then, and also not when Morton Klein, head of the otherwise uncritically pro-Trump Zionist Organization of America, was compelled to concede that Trump “mainstreams” and “legitimizes Jew-hatred and Jews-haters,” and then confessed: “This scares me.” 

It scares also millions of other Jews who, unlike Trump, understand all too well what he is tinkering with. 

Some Jews sniffed this part of Trump’s political cocktail much earlier. The odor smelled far and wide five years ago when Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanted “Jews will not replace us” and Trump said he thought there were “very fine people on both sides.” 

This is besides Jews who were appalled, as Jews, by Trump’s obscenities, his attacks on the judiciary, his defamation of the media, his habitual lies, his disparagement of science, his scorn for public health, and his routine public humiliations, publicly and vocally, of rivals, colleagues and subordinates. 

Other Jews, however, preferred to look the other way, blinded by Trump’s support of Israel, which was indeed consistent and wholesale. 

Even lefty Israelis applauded his relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His unapologetic confrontation with Iran was also widely saluted, not to mention his administration’s brokering of the Abraham Accords, by far the happiest thing that happened in the Middle East since the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was signed. 

How then, does one reconcile Trump’s pro-Israeli record with his anti-Jewish associations and gaffes?

Before answering this oddity, one must understand that Israel, in its capacity as the Jewish state, has considerations that transcend the Middle East. One of these is antisemitism, which Israel is sworn to confront wherever it might sprout. That is why a president of any country, let alone an aspiring leader of the free world, who hosts antisemitic hate-mongers, is for us Israelis a very serious problem. 

What, then, should we make of the gap between Trump’s records on Israel and the Jews?

ONE POSSIBILITY is that, despite his trademark directness and total lack of tact, Trump can also be a hypocrite. Then again, even his opponents don’t think this grandfather of three Jewish kids can actually be an antisemite. 

It follows that the problem lies not in Trump’s views, but in his judgment; in his unwillingness, or inability, to think, study and consult before doing, saying or typing anything. Shooting from the hip is for him not accidental. It’s what he does, and who he is. 

Fortunately, some Republican leaders called Trump to task, most notably Mike Pence, who said his former boss “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table,” and called on him to “denounce them without qualification.” 

Trump delivered no such denouncement, not even of Fuentes’s Holocaust denial, or his call on American conservatives to target “Jewish power” as part of their “next big frontier,” not even this lowlife’s claim that Americans’ embrace of feminism and non-white immigrants is a “bastardized Jewish subversion of the American creed.”

No, this sick man and the rapper alongside him are not the subject. Trump is. Hopefully, but doubtfully, his many Jewish groupies will now understand that, with all due respect to his record on Israel, waltzing with Trump leads to dancing with wolves, dining with the devil, sleeping with the enemy, and waking up in his arms. 


The writer, a Hartman Institute fellow, is the author of the bestselling Mitzad Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019), a revisionist history of the Jewish people’s political leadership.