US antisemitism envoy: Trump is philosemitic, committed to fighting hate

“He was speaking to a group of friends, including the IAC Board of Directors, who are real estate developers like he is. He knows these people."

U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, Elan Carr (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, Elan Carr
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Antisemitism Elan Carr pushed back against accusations that US President Donald Trump has made statements offensive to Jewish people in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of NGO Monitor’s conference on antisemitism on Wednesday.
Carr called a recent speech by Trump to the Israeli-American Council “one of the most philosemitic speeches any president has given,” praising him for highlighting antisemitism on college campuses.
In that speech, Trump said "the Jewish State has never had a better friend in office than your president," but also posited that some American Jews "don't love Israel enough," and therefore voted for Democrats. He called a claim by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins," meaning money, is "despicable rhetoric," but then said the audience would support him because they oppose a wealth tax, stating: "You're going to be my biggest supporters because you'll be out of business in 15 minutes."
The Jewish Democratic Council of America Executive Director Halie Soifer called the remarks "vile and bigoted," and said Trump "once again used antisemitic stereotypes to characterize Jews as driven by money and insufficiently loyal to Israel."
Carr, however, defended the statements Trump made about the Jewish audience and wealth, saying: “He was speaking to a group of friends, including the IAC Board of Directors, who are real estate developers like he is. He knows these people; Sheldon Adelson was also there. He’s personal friends with them. He comes from a business community that’s similar to theirs. He was speaking affectionately about them.”
As for the comment about voting Democrat showing a lack of love for Israel, Carr said that he personally would not tell people who to vote for, as a nonpartisan government official.
However, Carr said that it is the president’s “job as the leader of the Republican Party” to try to convince people to vote for him.
“The President of the United States is the leader of the Republican Party, and by virtue of being party leader, he has every right to say which leader better serves the Jewish community or any community he’s talking to,” Carr stated.
Carr profusely praised the Trump administration’s efforts in fighting hate, saying it is “committed in unprecedented fashion to the fight against antisemitism, the protection of Jewish people around the world and support for the State of Israel. We never had an administration this forceful on this issue…The president is such an extraordinary leader on these important issues.”
As such, he added: “American Jewish and all Jews in the world and all decent people ought to be very grateful. They ought to be saying thank you.”
Carr cited Trump’s recent executive order to combat antisemitism on college campuses “incredible and groundbreaking,” as well as “a game changer.”
“What this executive order says,” he explained, ”is that the kind of bigotry and racism that is prohibited by the civil rights act when applied to African Americans or Hispanic Americans is equally prohibited when applied to Jewish university students. And that should be a no-brainer, but now it’s official.”
Carr said he thinks the executive order will be an effective tool to “prevent harassment, intimidation and discrimination against Jewish university students,” many of whom he characterized as “under siege.”
He also spoke out against those who argue that the new policy is a violation of First Amendment-protected free speech.
“This is not about censorship. President Trump takes a backseat to no other president in terms of his commitment to free speech. He signed another executive order last March protecting free speech on college campuses. He’s on the record committing to the right to free speech, including views with which we disagree…That’s the American way,” Carr stated.
At the same time, Carr argued that discrimination and harassment are not protected speech, and when students are subjected to them, those are violations of the Civil Rights Act.
“That is not going to be allowed anymore. We’re done with this. And the president said we are done with this. This situation where Jewish students are under siege on some campuses, -we’re not going to allow that, and we’re certainly not going to subsidize it,” he said.
Campus antisemitism has “gotten worse and worse” over recent years, Carr added, “and we are beyond grateful to have a president willing to take bold action to take care of this.”
Asked if it is challenging to be an envoy against antisemitism in an administration most US Jews oppose, Carr encouraged people to join the fight against hate.
“Fighting what is often called the world’s oldest hatred is certainly challenging, but I also think it is one of the great privileges,” he said. “Want to make the world a better place, elevate the Jewish condition, do real tikkun olam? This is one of the first addresses, to fight this insidious, indefatigable sickness that recurs over and over and over again in all parts of the world.”
Fighting antisemitism is a way “to make humankind better and more decent and more prosperous” and “to ensure that better world that our children and grandchildren so deeply deserve,” he stated.