Trump’s Toxic Talk

Donald Trump has a bad habit of shooting his mouth off. He did so during his four-year term as U.S. president, and he is doing so again as the putative Republican Party presidential nominee.

Several days ago, he hurled an outrageous accusation against American Jews who vote for the rival Democratic Party. ¬†Appearing on an online conservative talk radio show hosted by Sebastian Gurka, one of his former White House assistants, Trump was asked to comment on criticism that President Joe Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer — the highest-ranking Jewish politician in American history — have levelled against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of late.

“I actually think they hate Israel,” he replied, receiving an affirmative nod from Gurka. “Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion,” added Trump. “They hate everything about Israel, and they should be ashamed of themselves because Israel will be destroyed.”

According to Trump, Democratic officials hate Israel because they are scurrying for the votes of pro-Palestinian Americans. “Guys like Schumer see that, and to him it’s votes. I think it’s votes more than anything else, because he was always pro-Israel. He’s very anti-Israel now.”

As expected, Trump’s toxic rhetoric was roundly denounced. Schumer, the Senate majority leader, condemned his remarks as “highly partisan and hateful rants.” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, called them “defamatory and patently false.” The White House characterized them as “vile and unhinged.”

In response, Trump’s campaign office declared that “Trump is right” and charged that the Democratic Party “has turned into a full-blown, anti-Israel, antisemitic, pro-terrorist cabal.”

It is true that members of its minority “progressive” wing, such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, are ill-disposed toward Israel and have continued to pour scorn on it since Hamas launched a massive terrorist attack in southern Israel on October 7.

Chris van Hollen

It is also true that liberal-leaning Democratic senators from Bernie Sanders to Chris Van Hollen have advised Biden to cut off the flow of offensive weapons to Israel unless it opens more humanitarian corridors into Gaza.

And it is equally true that the Biden administration has shifted course in the past few weeks, criticizing the tactics of Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, bemoaning the scale of the burgeoning humanitarian crisis there, and calling for an immediate ceasefire.

By the same token, however, most Democrats are pro-Israel. And Biden, a Christian Zionist, has provided Israel with considerable infusions of military equipment and munitions to wage war against Hamas, given Israel political cover at the United Nations, and promised Israel economic aid to the tune of $14 billion.

For obvious reasons, Trump pretends to be blind to Biden’s pro-Israel stance and attempts to paint the Democratic Party and its Jewish supporters in the blackest possible colors.

His cheap and absurd accusation that Jewish supporters of the Democrats are self-hating Jews who despise Israel is completely warped and patently untrue.

Trump’s divisive and incendiary rhetoric should be beneath the principles of any decent mainstream candidate running for the highest office in the land. But Trump is different. He thrives on creating chaos, as one of his Republican opponents, Nikki Haley, pointed out recently before dropping out of the presidential race.

Nikki Haley

Trump’s lamentable record speaks for itself.

Last September, he posted a sarcastic and inappropriate Rosh Hashanah greeting. “Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed false narratives. Let’s hope you learned fom your mistakes and make better choices moving forward! Happy New Year!”

Sadly enough, this post was not the first by Trump to suggest that liberal-minded Jews, who comprise the majority of America’s Jewish community, are working against the national interests of the United States. This intrinsically antisemitic trope should be of concern to anyone who values democracy and abhors racism.

During his presidency, Trump harped on this disturbing theme. In 2019, he told reporters ungrammatically, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Last October, he posted a comment on his Truth Social site claiming that Evangelical Christians are more appreciative of his pro-Israel credentials than Jews.

Kanye West

And in December, following the uproar that ensued after he hosted the antisemites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes at his estate in Florida, he wrote, “How quickly Jewish leaders forgot that I was the best, by far, president for Israel. They should be ashamed of themselves. This lack of loyalty to their greatest friends and allies is why large numbers in Congress, and so many others, have stopped giving support to Israel.”

Outraged by his gratuitous and insulting claims, the American Jewish Committee condemned Trump on X: “Claiming that American Jews who did not vote for Mr. Trump voted to destroy America and Israel is deeply offensive and divisive.”

Beyond that, Trump was tapping into mean spirited conspiracy theories regarding the issue of dual loyalty.

Yet, as president, he was undeniably pro-Israel. He moved the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory. He played a critical role in brokering the Abraham accords, during which the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

Donald Trump and the signatories of the 2020 Abraham accords

These landmarks in U.S.-Israeli relations are sullied when Trump tries to siphon away Jewish votes from the Democratic Party by means of hateful lies and misleading half-truths. He is playing a dangerous game that antisemites will gleefully exploit for their own ends.

Trump owes it to himself and the Republican Party to stop this nonsense.