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May 20, 2016 12:55 am

A Message to Donald Trump’s Jewish Supporters: Are You Hypocrites or Not?

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Donald Trump during his speech at the 2016 AIPAC conference. Photo: AIPAC.

Donald Trump during his speech at the 2016 AIPAC conference. Photo: AIPAC. – “He’s not Hitler. He wants to help America.”

Melania Trump’s comment about her husband, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, will go down as one of the more memorable quotes in an election cycle that has had its fair share of gaffes, outbursts, and the like. While her second sentence is debatable, the first one is undoubtedly true. If you are looking for this era’s aspiring Hitlers, you will not find them in America.

In another country and in another political system, Donald Trump could quite conceivably become a dictator. Given his admiration for the collection of clowns and thugs who currently fit that political descriptor, he clearly has the right personality. And even if the strength of our democratic structures means that Trump cannot become an American caudillo, the fact that one can easily picture him enjoying such a role is a critical reason why so many Americans shudder at the thought of Trump in the White House.

While most American Jews share that visceral reaction, there are a growing number who don’t — and who are going to campaign for and vote for Trump. Those I’ve spoken to have all said that they can’t stomach the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency after eight years of President Barack Obama. They list positive reasons, too — they think Trump will be receptive to Jewish concerns, that he’ll be tough on national security, and that he should be applauded for standing up to the same progressive Democrats who treat Israel as an enemy instead of an ally.

Those are all positions that deserve to be considered and debated rationally. Jewish supporters of Trump have a point when they say that the reality TV star is well-poised to win the election, and that therefore we would be wise to engage him. But equally, they need to understand that, historically, Jews have invariably oriented towards the center of politics. Demagogues articulating strident messages that translate uneasily into policy are the polar opposite of the establishment, experienced political figures who have traditionally won Jewish support.

At issue here, moreover, is not just Trump, but Trump’s supporters. As I said, even if Trump wants to imitate Russian President Vladimir Putin, conditions in America mean that he cannot do so. In a country like Russia, Putin can court the far right — like the Rodina party, whose “Tiger” youth wing pledged allegiance to Putin in 2015 from the depths of a nuclear bunker in central Moscow — without any political cost. Contrastingly, in America, a would-be president is expected to act like a statesman; by that logic, and sooner rather than later, Trump should disavow, explicitly and unreservedly, the semi-literate Klan-like rabble that is riding his coattails.

Crucially, nobody has given him an incentive to do so — yet. That incentive can, realistically, only be provided by Trump’s Jewish supporters, since he never listens to his adversaries. If these Jews are going to give him legitimacy, and assist him in resisting the false charge that he’s an anti-Semite, then their voices need to be heard on the following developments that have further marred Trump’s appeal to Jewish voters:

Antisemitic harassment of Jewish critics

Julia Ioffe, a prominent journalist whose GQ magazine profile of Melania Trump earned her the enmity of the Trump campaign, was bombarded with sickening antisemitic messages from pro-Trump trolls on social media. Nazi imagery was richly in evidence in the case of Ioffe, as it has been with other Jewish critics of Trump, like John Podhoretz of Commentary magazine (“Are you gonna flee to Israel after TRUMP is elected president?! LMAO KIKE!!” read one message) and Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro, whose newborn baby was described by one sociopath, in the fashion of Der Stürmer, as a “cockroach.” In public at least, Trump has been unmoved by any of this, and has even ventured that these critics brought this foul invective upon themselves.

“As a Jew…” apologetics

When I read the vile attack carried by on Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, which identified him as a “Renegade Jew,” I wondered whether this would be an isolated example or the harbinger of a new phenomenon. The author of the piece, David Horowitz, has embraced Trump with the same dogmatic fury that he employed in embracing the far left in the late 1960s. In highlighting the irrelevant fact that Kristol is Jewish, Horowitz trod the same ground as those forelock-tugging Jewish leftists who ingratiate themselves with Israel’s enemies by disavowing the Jewish state.

“I am a Jew who has never been to Israel and has never been a Zionist in the sense of believing that Jews can rid themselves of Jew hatred by having their own nation state,” Horowitz implored pathetically. For good measure, he added that he is an “American (and an American first)”—thereby insinuating that the remainder of the Jewish community is fatally compromised by a greater loyalty to Israel. Are there other Jews on the right who are going to follow the shabby example of those on the left by presenting themselves as the “good Jews?” Does a Trump supporter who invokes the “dual loyalty” smear get a free pass?

The rise of the “alt-right”

The “alternative right,” to give its full name, is a toxic cluster of blogs, websites, and one-person “think tanks” that fuses old-style white power nationalism with what its followers mistakenly regard as witty ripostes to political correctness on race and gender. Many of these people are Holocaust deniers, baiters of the disabled, and similar malcontents. They have all lined up behind Trump. Are Jewish supporters of Trump really going to employ the same argumentation as those on the far left, soothing themselves that we have nothing to worry about because his daughter converted to Judaism and some of his best friends are Jews?

If there’s one lesson we have learned in dealing with the left-wing anti-Zionist onslaught of the last decade, it’s that some very ugly fringe memes can suddenly emerge in mainstream discourse. There is no reason why that should be any different on the right. That the Jew-hatred is not confined to Trump’s supporters — the billionaire Koch brothers, who are opposed to Trump, are financing a conference featuring the antisemitic academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of the discredited book “The Israel Lobby”— is even more cause to act quickly to prevent the mainstreaming of this poison.

Here, therefore, is my challenge to Donald Trump’s Jewish supporters: Will you seize the opportunity to display the same toughness you’ve shown towards the Left with your favored presidential candidate? Will you tell Trump that he needs to ditch this faction of his supporters? Your answer is eagerly awaited.

Ben Cohen, senior editor of & The Tower Magazine, writes a weekly column for on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics. His writings have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is the author of “Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism” (Edition Critic, 2014).

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  • adam

    I agree 100%! I voted for McCain and Romney but there is no way I can vote for Trump. The anti-Semitism from his campaign is frightening. This part of the Republican party has been rightfully kept in the fringe where it belongs and Trump is making this mainstream and Kosher.

    The excuse I always here is not policy but his daughter converted. For one thing he has many other Grandkids with the last name Trump as he is running not his daughter. For another, why didn’t Ivanka take her husbands name. Trumps daughter in law did of one of his sons. Also, it is telling that most of the family is on Twitter and Mr. Kushner is not. Also that Ivanka never mentions Judaism or her husband on Twitter. So it just seems that the Jewish son-in-law doesn’t even know what is going on and that is also troubling.

  • Al Talena

    I wonder if Ben Cohen will be doing an article re the Jew haters who backed Obama. Or how about an article re the self-hating Jews and anti-Semites who back Bernie or Clinton.

  • JOHN Train

    @ Ben Cohen..The choice is binary. Hillary or Donald.

    Remember the US back channel negotiations with IRAN began under Hillary Clinton. She was fully aware of everything that was happening. After Hillary was no longer Secretary of State she continued to get these intensive briefings. She remained aware of everything that was happening.

  • Jay Lavine

    What Jews are concerned about is the lack in our society of those Jewish values that are truly universal: honesty, integrity, transparency, evenhandedness, tolerance for diversity, and respect for educated opinion and legitimate authority, to name just a few.

  • Ben Tzur

    One of the key indications of mere polemicism is the tendency to label those who disagree with the most vile words and demonizations, without regard to nuance and middle ground. Another is the use of “guilt through association,” blindly smearing the victim with the alleged misdemeanours of some of his or her supporters, regardless of whether the victim supports the alleged supporters’ views or not, and particularly easy to do when those supporters number in the hundreds of millions (at present, according to polls, around half the American voting population). A third is to cherry pick “bad examples” or misstatements and claim that these are typical. This article provides many instances of these and many other such dodges. The article therefore traduces the views of Jews who support Trump, gratuitously insulting them as acting in bad faith while actually not bothering to find out from them just why they might sincerely support him in the first place. So while proving nothing about Trump or his Jewish supporters, the article reveals a lot about its author.

  • This blog has reached new lows for ignorance. The author does not speak for anyone with intelligence.

  • Getaclue

    Trump insisted on including Jews and blacks at Palm Beach golf course in 1990s

    A few things that you may like to see…

    Donald Trump Donates Over $100,000 to Israeli Emergency Rescue Service
    Real estate tycoon Donald Trump has pledged to donate over $100,000 to Israeli emergency rescue service United Hatzalah, The Algemeiner has learned.
    The gift, which will go towards the purchase of four ambucycles, costing $26,000 each…

    Orthodox Child with Rare Ailment is Rescued Aboard Tycoon’s Jet

    The private Boeing 727 of real estate tycoon Donald Trump arrived from Los Angeles at LaGuardia Airport Tuesday morning, carrying aboard an Orthodox Jewish child with a rare and still undiagnosed breathing illness.
    The child, Andrew Ten, age 3, arrived with his parents — accompanied by three nurses who attend to him around the clock — to try to seek medical help in the New York area.
    Trump made his plane available for the special trip to New York after the boy’s parents, Judy and Harold Ten, called Trump and told him of their plight.

  • Getaclue

    Mr Cohen:
    I will address you directly about this issue.. being a Conservative Jew that supports Donald Trump.
    Why is it ok for you to defend a bunch of JINOs that support leftist agendas, that support Obama, Hillary Clinton and clearly do not stand with the Jews in Israel?

    Just because someone is Jewish doesn’t automatically give them a pass to act in ways that contradict the laws in the Bible, nor that undermine the sovereignty of Israel.

    I have posted several examples of the betrayal of the people that you are so eager to defend, whom in my opinion are not worthy of defense.

    Trump is not responsible for every person that makes comments regarding his campaign.

    Ioffe was part of a group of access journalists who met privately with Barack Obama to shore up support for his counterterrorism strategy in combating ISIS before an address to the nation.

    EXCLUSIVE: RNC Condemns Bill Kristol’s Anti-Trump Third Party as ‘Helping to Elect Hillary Clinton’

    Kristol’s Secret Plan to Support Obama

  • Amy

    Trump is NOT anti-simetic..I think too many Jews in America have voted with the left to their own peril.

  • Ok Ben, here is my short answer “Iran”, what a Great Deal by B.H.O!

  • Robert Davis

    Melania is right even if a candidate was “Hitler in person” which of course is not the case with Trump who is rather anti Hitler, he could NOT make it in the US for many reasons the first being democracy. A US President has only 5 years before next elections and even if he gets a second mandate he could NOT do the kind of dirty “job” Hitler did. Trump is simply CENTER RIGHT instead of the Republicans’ Center left and this is indeed much much needed nowadays in particular after 10 years of radical leftism with obanana. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT.

  • NN

    It’s tempting to think that perhaps you don’t understand what’s happening with Trump. Or perhaps you do understand and are afraid for your future because Jews who support Trump have had enough of the snotty, ‘holier-than-thou’ two-faced doubletalk from the chattering pundits and soothsayers who dominate Jewish Establishment hasbarah. Your dissembling and moralizing are hollow and irrelevant. We’re ready for plain-talking people who deal with reality and sick of hearing and reading clever essays and what Chomsky describes as ’emotionally potent over-simplifications’ from those who want to dominate the political and cultural agenda. Time for a big change… and what we need will never come from you, Shapiro, Klavan, and the other ‘philosopher-charlatans’ many of us once looked to for objective information.

  • Lucifer69

    Incomprehansive babbling of this article.
    Not one bit of rational thought in it.
    No sane American Jew wants to be treated like the last seven years, by the liberal establishment. Enough is enough.
    We will get our country back by massively voting for Trump 2016.Vaya.

  • Henry

    Ben, are you living in some alternate universe? You have a successful businessman who is not a professional politician, running against an ostensible criminal serial prevaricator who would sell out Israel for a dime and eviscerate the second Amendment. There is no rational choice in this election, anyone who is rational, sane, and values the truth, who despises political correctness, and values Israel must vote for Trump or against HIllary.

  • Jack Holan

    All these terrible scary descriptions can by documented examples apply to Mrs Clinton from Anti-Semitic triads, need for absolute control, intolerant of criticism and so on and so forth. Mrs. Clinton as First Lady, TravelGate, FileGate, Cattle Futures, Prosecution of a supporter for giving a gift with an Eagle Feather, WhiteWater, Vindictive ruination of Bill’s women, going from ‘broke’ when leaving the White House to $115,000,000 today, accepting fees for speeches as Secretary of State(did she complete compliance paperwork and receive exceptions) and what was of value for $300,000 per speech to Wall Street,

  • rbockman

    I support Trump because he is the Republican nominee.

  • Lia

    “Re: ‘in America, a would-be president is expected to act like a statesman’. That puzzles me. Which recent USA presidents have done that? Messrs Carter, Nixon, Clinton, Obama? But Mr Trump has to?

  • Robert

    I’m sorry but you can bloviate from now to kingdom come but the bottom line is that it’s a matter of ideology.

    Your leftwing leanings are what disuades you from supporting Donald Trump nothing else so at least be honest about your disingenuous polemics.

    There are many Jews who share Mr. Trumps views and will support him. We believe in making America great again and please don’t be so condescending to us.

  • Ilya

    Dear Mr. Cohen,
    Have you tried holding the president you have voted for accountable for what his supporters are have said and done to Jews and Israel?
    Haven’t you noticed that we have a dictator who has “a phone and a pen” in the White House?
    With all due respect, you should start with that before insinuating what would happen with Trump”s presidency

  • Barry

    Did not care for this piece and the authors slamming the right. I’m far more afraid of the left though both extremes are potentially dangerous.

    Horowitz is mostly good, an intelligent thoughtful person. That the Koch’s are bringing in Mearsheimer and Walt is ground breaking worrisome. More proof we are a divided people which exposes our soft underbelly.

    I don’t fear Trump at this time but the lesson here is don’t go after him or his family with too much gusto unless you are willing to take the blowback. Being too critical when he or his wife have not done anything wrong YET is a bad game plan. Let things unfold, treat him with respect and let things unfold as they will.

    Hillary would be worse, Obama was a disaster. I say give the man a chance and don’t take cheap shots. It’s gonna play out anyway, let’s be clever.

  • joelsk

    If only Mr. Cohen had held President Obama’s Jewisk supporters to the same standard, his anti-Trump screed might have been taken with some seriousness. But,alas, that has not been the case, so who gives a hoot what he says?

  • Wendy

    This is one of the most ridiculous editorials I have read in recent memory.
    We are currently at a crossroads and have two choices, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
    I am a Jew, a passionate Zionist and a Trump supporter.
    In 2008 I was a delegate for Hillary in her first failed run for the presidency. When the nomination was given to Obama, for the first time in my life I left the Democrat party because I was filled with distrust and revulsion for Obama. I consider him, in the past 7+ years, the worst president in recent memory.
    I could not disagree more radically with Ben Cohen.
    Hillary Clinton has called Israel an ” apartheid state” and Israelis, “occupiers”.
    Hillary Clinton now supports every program and executive order and ideology of Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton supports Obama’s hideous and fraudulent and Anti-Israel nuclear “deal ( genuflection) with the terror state of Iran which Trump does not.
    Hillary has received vast sums of money from the Saudis and the only highlight of her tenure as SOC was the disastrous debacle of Benghazi.
    Hillary is only for Hillary.
    As far as not being in love with all Trump supporters, they are hardly as horrific as the Left’s Soros supported mobs of Black Lives Matter thugs who turn out to be pimps and pedophiles, thugs, anarchists, anti-Semites, and Nation of Islam members. Add to that the throngs of BDS supporting Anti-Semites overrunning our universities and the throngs of Leftist Hillary supporting “feminists” who are mute in the face of the horrors of Islam, the misogyny, FGM, child brides, honor killings and homophobia.
    As an openly proud Jewish Trump supporter I have never experienced anything other than support and interest in my faith and in Israel from other Trump supporters.
    The only thing that seems to have perplexed them is the proclivity of so many Jews to support those who want to harm them, they are puzzled as to why so many Jews supported Obama and now support Hillary. They do not understand why Obama and Hillary support unvetted hordes of refujihadists into America, and why they support and sympathize with Hamas and the “palestinians” over Israel, whom they unequivocally support. They do not understand the the rude contempt of Obama and his water carrier Hillary for Bibi Netanyahu whom they support.
    Trump cannot be responsible for “trump trolls” especially when there is often evidence that these morons are actually in the employ of Hillary, Sanders or MoveOn as they were in Chicago, where Trump wisely cancelled his rally.
    In closing, as a Jewish Trump supporter, if I could find anything meaningful in this diatribe against what Mr Cohen perceives as a” semi- literate Klan-like rabble” I would find it, and him, insulting.
    Mr Cohen needs to get out more and meet more Trump supporters, Jewish and otherwise.

  • Benjamin Gruder

    “The author of the piece, David Horowitz, has embraced Trump with the same dogmatic fury that he employed in embracing the far left in the late 1960s. ”

    Good point. The basic ‘true believer’ frame of mind hasn’t changed, just the object of his true belief. Like an alcoholic who substitutes one addiction for another.

  • S Loeb

    Who can actually say WHO those are who were tweeting anti Semitic tweets at Jewish critics of Trump were? I imagine they are hired hands of Clinton dirty trickster David Brock to paint Trump – by association – an anti semite just like they painted him violent. But now after the Nevada State Democrat convention with the death threats and chair throwing are we all still so certain it was Trump people being violent? I’m a Jew, a New Yorker and a Trump. I can hear when the media is embellishing what Trump has said and then condemns him for what they said he said and NOT for what he actually said. It appears many are unable to hear the difference. Donald J is just a Queens rich brat with Jewish kids and grand kids no less – he’s no fascist, no Hitler, no anti Semite – and time to stop spreading these vicious things.

  • enufizenuz

    You’re nuts, and any anti-Semitic Trump supporters who expect Trump to do anything against Jews or Israel are going to be SORELY disappointed.
    Don’t try to confuse the issue, over 70% of Republicans are strong supporters of Israel while fewer than 40% of Democrats are. Additionally, the most active anti-Semites in the United States are left-wingers, all Democrats.
    The few right-wing Jew-haters, like David Puke, have an exceedingly small following.
    The only Jews who will suffer under a Trump presidency will be those hoping for further Clintonian and Obaman anti-Americanism.

  • Neither Trump nor any other candidate can control or pick and choose who follows and supports. And he has disavowed them. So, to ask that is to make a thoroughly unreasonable and illogical request. What a wasted and disappointing read this article was.

  • Emanuel

    How about we ditch the liberal sissies pushing pedophilia on America, making us sick and forcing our soldiers to wear red high heels.

  • Zack

    Well stated.

  • Don’t hold your breath.

    • Barbara

      Abbie, I’m with you.