WASHINGTON WATCH: Donald's duck test

Bigotry and racism have been at the foundation of Trump's message since he rode down the escalator in his eponymous building to announce his candidacy a year ago.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and his wife, Melania (photo credit: REUTERS)
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and his wife, Melania
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Donald Trump heads to next week’s GOP convention in Cleveland, among the many questions surrounding him is whether he is an anti-Semite or just acts like one. And is there a difference? Family, friends, business associates and even many critics deny he’s an anti-Semite. They may be right, but he has won the enthusiastic support of so many who are that you have to ask why he is so content to be a vessel for their vitriol.
Bigotry and racism have been at the foundation of his message since he rode down the escalator in his eponymous building to announce his candidacy a year ago.
He began with Mexicans and rapidly expanded his enemies list to include Muslims, immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans, women, the disabled, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists and many of his fellow Republicans.
Jews made the list when he retweeted an image he copied from @WhiteGenocideTM, a anti-Semitic website, showing a Star of David superimposed over a pile of money and a picture of Hillary Clinton, to which he added “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever.”
When called on it he disingenuously denied it had anything to do with Jews and was just a “sheriff’s star.”
Trump had an opportunity to keep a bad situation from getting worse by saying, “oops, sorry, a mistake.” But instead he reinforced the impression that the tweet was, in fact, intended to galvanize the nation’s haters by insisting – unconvincingly – there was no subliminal message. “Trump could go a long way toward setting aside the anti-Semitism chatter” if he’d disavow the haters, wrote Andrew Silow-Carroll in the JTA, but he is apparently incapable of that.
His refusal to renounce the anti-Semites and other extremists and his continued re-tweeting of their hateful messages – plus heavy doses of his own – amounts to tacit approval. That’s become a cornerstone of his campaign.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s real estate attorney and co-adviser on Israel, insists his boss is not an anti-Semite and can’t be held responsible for those who back him. That would be credible if he quickly and clearly denounced them and rejected their support instead of re-tweeting their venom.
Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, said he “interprets” Trump’s refusal to condemn anti-Semitic attacks “as an endorsement.”
Bend the Arc, a partnership of progressive Jewish groups, called on the Republican Jewish Coalition to rescind its support for Trump until he rejects the support of extremist groups.
Many RJC machers are reportedly hesitant to contribute to Trump because they believe he is an anti-Semite and a bigot. But not all. The wealthiest of the lot, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who also is RJC’s prime benefactor, pledged $100 million to help elect Trump.
The organization’s refusal to break with Trump shows the order of the words in its name is no accident: Republican first, then Jewish.
Jewish voters, on the other hand, won’t be blind to the anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia surrounding the Trump campaign. The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin predicted Clinton could get 90 percent of the Jewish vote this year.
Trump boasts he “will be very good to Israel,” citing his 2004 leadership of a pro-Israel parade, his 2013 campaign commercial for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his daughter’s conversion to Judaism and lots of Jewish friends and business associates.
That may go down well with the minority of “Israel first” voters, whose loathing of all Democrats is effectively undercutting the bipartisanship so carefully cultivated by the pro-Israel movement over the decades.
Moreover, he’s shown limited understanding of the issues, relying instead on his usual boasts and one-liners.
His other co-adviser on Israel, David Friedman, advised the Netanyahu government to stop negotiating a 10-year military assistance deal with the Obama administration because Trump would do better. Friedman also said Trump would probably support Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and not Palestinian statehood.
The GOP Rules Committee this week dropped support for Palestinian statehood from the party’s 2016 platform, reflecting more the views of Netanyahu’s far-right coalition and Adelson than those of the American Jewish community or prior Republican and Democratic administrations. The provision is in the Democratic platform again this year. Netanyahu has endorsed statehood.
Trump has at times said he would be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians in any peace negotiations, and he has called for Israel and other countries to reimburse the United States for foreign aid.
His inexperience and volatile personality could fan the flames of Middle East conflict.
Frankly, I don’t think he has the foggiest idea about what is going on in the Middle East or the kind of policies he’d pursue. What worries me even more is that he is so volatile and ego-driven that the least slight or perceived insult from an Israeli leader might lead him to retaliate irrationally.
Imagine what he’d have done if he were president last year and the Israeli prime minister went behind his back and colluded with the opposition to go before Congress to attack the president and his policies.
This is a diverse nation of many minorities, lots of whom he has consistently insulted and denigrated, including Jews (his daughter’s conversion is not a dispensation).
Is Donald Trump an anti-Semite, a racist and a bigot? Decide for yourself by applying the duck test: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. A record majority of Jews are likely to hear loud quacking on November 8.