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March 14, 2017 8:38 am

Jewish Trump Critics Backtrack After Questions Raised About Extreme Rhetoric

avatar by Rafael Medoff / JNS.org

President Donald Trump. Photo: White House.

President Donald Trump. Photo: White House.

JNS.org – Some Jewish critics of the Trump administration have backtracked, after questions were raised about the harsh and extreme rhetoric they used about the president.

Adam Shatz, a New York-based contributing editor of the London Review of Books, told JNS.org that he was “certainly not advocating violence,” when in the March 2 issue of his journal he wrote, “Many, perhaps most of us who live in coastal cities have found ourselves having criminal thoughts and fantasies since 9 November. Some involve Trump and [White House Chief Strategist] Steve Bannon.”

Shatz added to JNS.org, “We have not yet reached the point where Trump’s actions would transform violence into something morally legitimate, and I hope we never do.”

Comedian Sarah Silverman raised eyebrows when last month she tweeted, “Wake up & join the resistance. Once the military is w/us fascists get overthrown. Mad king & his handlers go bye bye.” Following a wave of condemnation, two days later Silverman wrote a follow-up with a decidedly more peaceful tone, saying “Trying 2 keep in check bc damnit I love u America.”

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Meanwhile, a New Jersey rabbi who appeared to have made a sweeping accusation against everyone on the political “Right” in an essay published by The Forward, said the wording was altered by the editor without his approval. Rabbi Richard Hirsh said that this line in the recent essay, “The right now deems fact-checking of even the most implausible assertions as biased and a fabrication,” was “a change proposed by the editor to which I objected…The Forward has posted the correction and apologized for the error.”

The Hirsh gaffe came a month after The Forward published Jay Michaelson, a nondenominational rabbi and regular Forward columnist, who slammed the Trump administration for its “assaults on Muslims, Mexicans, Australians (who saw that coming?), the environment, public education, health care, women and Jews.”

Michaelson told JNS.org that he meant rhetorical, not physical “assaults,” and he was referring to behavior not only since Trump took office, but during the election season, as well.

“Retweeting white supremacists, refusing (for months) to condemn antisemitism, promoting a nativist populist ideology, using Jewish star images to smear Hillary Clinton, running a television ad days before the election that focused on three Jews as symbols of international financial conspiracy — these are assaults on Jews,” Michaelson said, in addition to mentioning “the shocking spike in antisemitic violence and threats” in recent months.

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