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July 8, 2016 2:56 am

Clinton and Trump Need to Banish Antisemitism From Election Campaign

avatar by Ben Cohen /

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Donald Trump caused an uproar after tweeting out this image - featuring a Star of David - accusing Hillary Clinton of corruption. Photo: Twitter.

Donald Trump caused an uproar after tweeting out this image – featuring a Star of David – accusing Hillary Clinton of corruption. Photo: Twitter. – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is hardly in a happy place at the moment. Now that she’s avoided federal prosecution for compromising national security through her use of a private email server — a breathtaking turn of fortune that, critics say, would be denied to lesser mortals — the public are going to regard everything she says and does as a test of her basic integrity. One might even say that Clinton’s fate is to be assumed guilty unless she expressly proves otherwise.

With November’s face-off with Donald Trump bearing down upon us, it’s clear that many Americans regard the contest as involving the selection of the least troubling candidate. In terms of making a decision in the voting booth, we will need to rely, perhaps to a greater extent than we would normally be comfortable with, on the public statements and on-the-record positions of both candidates, as well as on their reactions to the broader themes underlying this election.

Sadly, and almost inexplicably, one of those themes is antisemitism, which has had a presence throughout most of the current campaign cycle. Both candidates have had to deal with it. And both of them have done so in different ways.

Let’s consider Hillary Clinton first. Some readers will remember that during her speech to the AIPAC convention back in March, Clinton delivered a rousing message of support to Jewish students confronting antisemitism and anti-Zionism on university campuses. “I hope you stay strong,” she told them. “Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.”

But what do you do when one of the most notorious of those bullies is the son of your closest adviser? This isn’t a hypothetical question. Clinton’s long-serving confidante Sidney Blumenthal is the father of the antisemitic writer Max Blumenthal, whose ravings about Israel are liberally quoted by extremists from white supremacists to leftist campus activists.

The younger Blumenthal has for years attracted the ire of American Jews. More recently, several liberals and left-wingers have denounced him for offenses ranging from pitiful argumentation to careless sourcing — but most of all, for his enthusiasm in deploying the most hackneyed antisemitic tropes. Lest little Max should doubt his influence on the less salubrious members of our society, recall that Frazier Glenn Cross, the Klan devotee who went on a shooting spree at a Kansas City Jewish center in 2014, cited Blumenthal’s screeds approvingly.

Clinton has been aware of Max Blumenthal’s activities for some time. Among the emails examined in the wake of the brutal 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were several exchanges with Sidney Blumenthal, who sent his boss links to Max’s articles. “A very smart piece” and “he’s so good” were just two of the comments Clinton sent back.

Over the last few days, however, it became untenable for Clinton not to address the deep anxieties among Jews over her connections with the Blumenthal family. The trigger was Max Blumenthal’s libelous rant on Twitter about the legacy of Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and human rights advocate who passed away on July 2 at the age of 87.

Wiesel was a moral giant who spoke out not just on behalf of Jews. I remember in particular his impassioned defense of Bosnian Muslims facing genocide at the hands of Serb militias in the mid-1990s. But none of that prevented Blumenthal from slandering Wiesel as a supporter of apartheid and a friend of the very same people who incarcerated him in Auschwitz.

Faced with this sickness, and worried about the impact it might have on Clinton, her campaign issued a most welcome rejection of Blumenthal’s comments as “hateful” and “patently absurd.” The key point is this: Whether or not you believe Clinton’s sincerity, she is now on record as condemning one of today’s most noxious antisemites, in spite of her myriad connections with his father. This at least give us a basis to judge her future responses on the same subject.

Donald Trump has done the same thing, except that his response to the latest of the several antisemitism scandals that have plagued his campaign merely expands our concerns, rather than contracting them. After retweeting an image sourced to a white supremacist website which showed a grinning Clinton superimposed onto a pile of money and a Star of David, Trump compounded the offense by blockheadedly sticking to his guns, criticizing his staff for deleting the tweet instead of “defending it.”

At the same time that Trump engages in antisemitism denial — something he does every time the issue of his white supremacist supporters comes up — his campaign pursues the tiresome tactic of putting his Jewish daughter and Jewish son-in-law before the media in his defense. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, went as far as publishing an op-ed in his Observer newspaper insisting, in a faux hurt tone, that Donald doesn’t hate Jews.

Except that nobody serious has called Trump an antisemite. The charge is that he tolerates antisemites and even enables them when it suits him to do so. Citing your Jewish relatives and friends is a favored method of the Israel-haters — “Some of my best friends are Jews!” — and most Jews aren’t fooled by it. They also aren’t fooled by Trump, who further insults our community by insinuating that we’re stupid enough to believe that he understands what constitutes antisemitism better than we do.

What both candidates need to do is declare a zero tolerance policy for antisemitism around their respective campaigns. As things stand, Clinton has responded to that demand far more satisfyingly than has Trump.

Thankfully, we haven’t reached a stage in this country where antisemitism is tearing up established political parties as it has done in Europe, with both the United Kingdom’s Labour Party and Germany’s nationalist AfD Party. Nor is antisemitism serious enough to be the issue upon which voters, Jewish or otherwise, make their choice. But come November, if the odor of this garbage persists, it could be a very different story.

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).

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • With 10s of millions of $$$ in their pockets, hillary Clinton more then cozies up to muslim regimes.
    The money comes with promises and commitments from clinton.
    Her husband bill and Oslo made ISRAEL more vulnerable to muslim murderers.
    Donald Trump is PRO ISRAEL.
    hillary is not-She will be PRO islam in HERR obama’s 3rd term.

  • Reform School

    “Those who believe in Nothing will fall for Anything.”

    “When all is said and done, more is said than done.”

    What kind of people base fitness for public office on recent statements, with 30 years of actions at hand? Liberal Apologists in Denial. Want to live in de Nile? Move to Egypt. Don’t know what a real “Star of David” (Shield of Solomon) looks like? Superimpose a pair of equilateral triangles (one inverted) on each other. Flunked geometry? Convert from Socialism to Judaism and join a minyan at a shul.

    Quit beating around the Bush: Write “Vote for Hillary!”

    If that red snowflake looks like a “Star of David” to you, it’s time you attack your Leftist professor, Alma Mater, for granting college degrees to imbeciles.

    Why does Ruthie put up with you? Does “Fair and Balanced” include giving a platform to the Unbalanced?

  • Dear Algemeiner,
    the necessity for the presidential candidates to distance themselves from anti-Semites and anti-Semitism in whatever form cannot be overemphasised from a European point of view. The degree to which Clinton and Trump each respond to that necessity will reflect on what can be expected from their future action in a potential presidency. The issue may also serve as a touchstone of the credulity of their anti-terrorist stand.
    Best regards,
    Thomas Gatter

  • William C. McKee

    I’m a tiny bit troubled by the implication that a guy lovingly married to a Jewish woman would lift without reference (allegedly at least) artwork from a skin-head site, that disrespects his wife’s religion. Not so much the website rip-off. But the lack of concern for his wife. But the wife might like the husband telling the world what he thinks of the Democrat candidate — part of what was [written in the star]. In the mix is the suffering endued by the six sided geometric object. Obviously Trump himself does not see any religion laying ownership to a geometric object. As a Christian, I’m not bugged when a carpenter crosses two planks, or if someone puts two sticks together and flies a kite. Yet by my religion an ultimate insult was given to a most high prophet by a pair of crossed beams. I thought death by hanging on a tree was considered a traditionally serious Jewish offense. Yet it is just no more than wood. Jesus taught not to swear to things of this earth, nor even of things in Heaven.

    And the pile of cash isn’t referenced to Jews, except in some people’s minds — like Alan Dershowitz on CNN’s Don Lemon show. Unfortunately for Alan, he is himself a bit of a stereotype. It is in the ethics of lawyers to give a vigorous defense. But was there just no place in his team’s code of honor, to even hint at the a closing statement of “If the glove does not fit, then you must acquit.” No, not if OJ merely borrowed it from a garage work bench. On his big hands it wouldn’t work, with comfort obviously. But other things than comfort and proper fit may have pushed such considerations to one side. I remind everyone that while money is entirely central to Mrs. Clinton’s at least current thinking, that her religion is Methodist. Could that have been a stereotype error on the part of the skin-heads? Maybe in the war of symbolism, someone should prank them about something of theirs.

    Now to this “Star of David”. Do Jews associate it with King David, who engaged in may bloody wars of conquest, even put to songs about how he was much better than other kings? Ah, that would be sort of bunch of songs about power and wealth, wouldn’t it.

    But of course there was another King David. One corrected by the prophet for an act of great dishonor, even by the king’s own words of agreement. A broken King David who acknowledged his grave sinfulness, and repented. Begging of God to give him a new heart. One such King David who God heard and relented the utter destruction of. And signed in symbol of that new heart his composition of many very powerful and prophetic psalms, dedicated not to himself, but to his good and gracious God.

    So, this Star of David. Do Jews associate it with wealth, power, and perhaps corruption? Or, do they associate it with a loving and merciful God, and a servant only but happy to be within that graceful presence the rest of his days? If only the former, then you might as well hand the star over to the skin-heads, since they seem to be in want of a proper symbol.

    The Star of David is not on all that ill gotten loot in the picture. I don’t notice Jewish symbols on all the money. But the Pyramid of Giza is prominently on the back of the dollar bill. Rather than insulting Jews, perhaps the skin-heads were referring to the Pyramid, which lies on Islamic land. Could it have been a symbol of Hillary taking pay for play money from Muslim countries? Or to do the good deed of sending cash to Africa to deal with the spread of AIDS, while at the same time, being totally silent, even as a powerful Secretary of State, of ME countries treating women and minorities quite harshly?

  • John Train

    Unfortunately, a close relative of one of my best researchers was instrumental in originating and spreading this blood libel against Donald Trump. Here is more material which makes this accusation not only ridiculous, but vicious.

    DAN SCAVINO, the staff member responsible for social media, was the individual who actually created and issued that posting.


    Trump could have attacked DAN for being oblivious to what would happen when the Jewish left[ Hillary supporter] saw the ad. But Donald Trump didn’t lash into Dan. While I don’t like Donald Trump, his staff universally report that he treats them with kindness and respect.

    Hillary’s staff, including the Secret Service, routinely report that she is very difficult to work with and work for. When Bill was involved with Monica ,Bill’s statements about Hillary,as documented in the hearings , were similar.

  • John Train

 Donald Trump is a more than 20 year history of welcoming Jews to his properties in areas where discrimination was practiced. This is not only true of welcoming their business, on the social level he was a cordial host.

    Unfortunately, many normally responsible Jewish journalists and publications pick up and repeat accusations without understanding that there is a Democratic Party operation devoted to demonizing their political opponents.

    There was a very enlightening story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal documenting how Trump fought both antisemitism and racism in Palm Beach 2 decades ago.

    The WSJ story focuses on the battles Trump faced as a new arrival to Palm Beach, including his new competition with the social clubs of the old order. The story, which quotes Abe Foxman, the longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, says, in part, the following:
Mr. Trump also has resorted to the courts to secure his foothold here, and many residents wince at the attention his legal battles with the town have drawn — to the town in general, and to the admission practices at some of Palm Beach’s older clubs in particular.
…The culture clash began to approach a climax last fall, when Mr. Trump’s lawyer sent members of the town council a copy of the film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” a film that deals with upper-class racism. Mr. Trump then approached the town council about lifting the restrictions that had been placed on the club. He also asked some council members not to vote on the request because their membership in other clubs created a conflict of interest.
Last December, after the council refused to lift the restrictions, Mr. Trump filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Palm Beach, alleging that the town was discriminating against Mar-a-Lago, in part because it is open to Jews and African-Americans. The suit seeks $100 million in damages.
… Mr. Foxman seems pleased that Mr. Trump has elevated the issue of discriminatory policies at social clubs. “He put the light on Palm Beach,” Mr. Foxman says. “Not on the beauty and the glitter, but on its seamier side of discrimination. It has an impact.”
In recent weeks, Mr. Foxman says, the league has received calls from Jewish residents telling of how Palm Beach clubs are changing. Locals concur that in the past year, organizations such as the Bath and Tennis Club have begun to admit Jewish patrons. The Palm Beach Civic Association, which for many years was believed to engage in discriminatory behavior, this month named a Jewish resident as its chief officer.


  • Raoul Kopelman

    I don’t believe that a Sheriff’s star used to write on has anything to do with antisemitism.
    Brainwashed by the NYT again?

  • stevenl

    It is difficult for the socialo-democrats to free themselves from antisemitism. All the socialist parties of Europe and S-America are antisemitic by nature from their origin even if many Jews joined their ranks.

  • Enufizenuf

    So Mrs. Bill Clinton’s established history of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel doesn’t matter to Mr. Cohen because one of her handlers penned something denouncing something? Very good.
    Yet a friend of Israel who will likely render Iran’s nuclear program inert, he’s the one with some real work to do?
    Geez! Jews never learn.

  • Kaplan

    when will the Democratic Party denounce ties with all of their vicious anti-Zionists (anti-Semite) of the far left?

    I still have death threats in my email-box from 2008, sent from supporters patrolling the official campaign website of then candidate Obama, bullying anyone who disagreed with the ‘Palestinian narrative’.

    disappointed that Algemeiner now reading DNC talking points.