Trump and American Jews: A Look Back at the Past Four Years

From saying he's the 'least antisemitic person you’ve ever seen' to failing to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory, here's a look at some of the president's comments ranging from bizarre to outright troubling

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Orthodox Jews waving Trump flags in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, October 7, 2020.
Orthodox Jews waving Trump flags in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, October 7, 2020.Credit: YUKI IWAMURA/ REUTERS

It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a relationship between President Donald Trump and the American Jewish community. 

Assessing where the relationship stands depends on which part of the community one is talking about - while right-wing conservative Orthodox community embraced him for his policies on Israel and his alliance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for the majority of American Jews, he has often been a divisive and troubling figure, earning him repeated condemnations from major Jewish organizations. 

A look back at the last four years: Trump and the Palestinians ■ Trump and Israel

At the beginning, things were even rocky within Trump’s own Republican party. During the president’s 2016 primary campaign, as a candidate in a wide field of GOP hopefuls, he made a point of telling an audience of Jewish donors, brought together by the man who would become one of his biggest financial supporters, Sheldon Adelson that “you’re not going to support me because I don't want your money"

The first major crisis point with Jews after Trump’s election, took place in 2017, after the Charlottesville march when he was seen as fanning the flames of white nationalism, calling “both sides” of the racial conflict there “very fine people” including the young men who marched with tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us.” 

Trump defended himself against criticism that he was giving aid and comfort to antisemites on several occations saying that he was “the least antisemitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

He launched aggressively attacked Jewish Democrats during controversies involving his rival party’s progressive wing, particularly members of the congressional “squad” of women. Trump said that anyone who didn’t support the GOP is “very disloyal to Israel.” He called for a “Jexodus” - a movement of Jews out of the Democratic Party to the Republicans because “Democrats don’t care about Israel and the Jewish people.” 

On repeated occasions, Trump has indicated that he may believe U.S. Jews possess as much allegiance to the Jewish state as they do to their own - calling Israel’s leader “your Prime Minister” while speaking to Jewish audiences. 

Finally, during his re-election campaign in 2020, Jews looked askance at Trump’s failure to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory, which incorporates antisemitic tropes and his smearing of Biden as a “servant of the globalists” - using a word that for many is an anti-Semitic dog whistle. 

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