To call this year’s U.S. election cycle “crazy,” “turbulent” and “circus-like” is an understatement. It’s been, to put it mildly, downright nuts.
And the nut-in-chief, who could become the next commander-in-chief, has been Donald Trump.
The businessman is the front-runner for the Republican Party presidential nomination. He’s built an impressive coalition of supporters, including new party members, and he’s won primaries and caucuses in every corner of the country.
At this point, it’s hard to see Trump losing the nomination. That’s a huge concern for many small “c” conservatives, including me.
Trump has run a vicious campaign based on fear, intolerance, maliciousness and arrogance. His ideas and policies are, for the most part, the complete antithesis of what political conservatism represents, or should represent, in a democratic society.
Yet there’s been an intriguing aspect to his Pyrrhic-like campaign. For all the personal and political attacks he’s engaged in, one group has been left alone: Jews.
There are some reasons for this. Trump has worked with Jews in the real estate business for decades. Some of his friends and political supporters are Jewish, including Carl Icahn and Steve Wynn. His daughter, Ivanka, married New York Observer owner Jared Kushner and converted to Judaism in 2009.
There’s also no evidence that Trump is, or has ever been, anti-Semitic.
But wait, some may argue. Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino’s former president, John R. O’Donnell, wrote in his 1991 book Trumped! that his old boss reportedly said, “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
Is that true?
During a 1999 Playboy interview, Trump expressed his disdain for the author, but said “[t]he stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.” He later told NBC’s Meet the Press (in part) on Oct. 24, 1999, “He was fired. We fired him because he wasn’t doing a very good job. He wrote this nasty book. He made up stuff… This guy, I hardly know him. He made up this quote. I’ve heard the quote before, and it’s nonsense… I’ve never said anything like it, ever.”
The Washington Examiner’s Eddie Scarry also noted in a July 8, 2015, article that the news outlet Fusion reprinted the quote without acknowledging it’s “second-hand from a former Trump employee, and not directly from Trump himself.”
Since the air of doubt is pretty thick, we’ll set this matter aside.
How about Trump’s Dec. 3, 2015, speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition? He said he’s a “negotiator… like you folks,” and asked, “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals?” He also believes the Jewish community won’t support him, because “I don’t want your money. And you want to control your own politicians.”
Let’s try to get inside Trump’s (warped) mind to understand his viewpoint.
Many Jews have been successful in business. This includes the art of negotiation, right? Meanwhile, the Jewish community may not want to “control” politicians, but, as financial donors, they obviously want to have some influence and input. All communities think along these lines.
So, while these are foolish, insensitive remarks, there’s nothing anti-Semitic about them.
Fine. What about Israel?
Trump told Politico’s Michael Crowley on Feb. 26, “I am totally pro-Israel.” He also said, “I have very close ties to Israel. I’ve received the Tree of Life Award and many of the greatest awards given by Israel.”
Yet he wants to be a “neutral” broker in the Middle East. Trump isn’t interested in taking “sides,” since it’s “probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world.”
It’s not a wholly positive stance, but it sounds remarkably similar to the Trudeau government’s decision to be an “honest” broker with Israel, don’t you think?
Donald Trump may be a lot of things. Anti-Semitic isn’t one of them.