Opinion |

Yes, Donald Trump IS an anti-Semite

We have to just come out with it, those of us who are American Jews in the media. It's time we made Trump bathe in his own batshit.

Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, February 16, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, February 16, 2017.Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

If you're Jewish and you're still a Trump person after this week, you can stop reading this right now. It's not for you.

After this week, there are only two kinds of American Jews left. There's the denomination called Trump Jews, and there's the rest of us.

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No more. Now we know. That Thursday news conference stripped things down to where everyone could see it: Donald Trump IS an anti-Semite.

It's time for people like me to just come out with it – particularly those of us who are American Jews who work in the media, those of us who've honestly been trying hard to be as kind and careful and and nuanced as we could.

It's time we made him bathe in his own batshit.

Cowed by years of having the charge of anti-Semitism used as a weapon by the Jewish right in a relentless effort to silence the left, we found every intellectual excuse not to apply the charge to Trump.

We gave him every break. Like the egghead freiers that we are, we cautioned that the evidence for his being an anti-Semite was weak, anecdotal. But we said this knowing that his racist, thunderously bigoted presidential campaign, with its emphasis on media-bashing and high-profile Jewish villains at the center of conspiracy theories, unleashed the most dangerous wave of overt anti-Semitism in the United States since the 1930s.

And the only thing he did about it, was to smile and let it help him ride it to the White House.

We've been such nice little Jews for him for so long. We let him off the hook time after time after time.

We largely let him get away with marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day by pointedly omitting any mention of the Jews, then choosing that very day to issue an order choking off immigration of non-Christian refugees fleeing genocide.

The neo-Nazis and Klan people and the sewer trolls adored that.

Just like they loved it this week when Trump dog-whistled several times that he really didn't want to have to fire his national security adviser Michael Flynn – a favorite of Jew-hating white supremacists and a man who once re-tweeted a message to the pro-Clinton "Democratic machine" warning "Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore."

Flynn later deleted the tweet. But the message got through to the receptive 'alt-right.' And this week, Trump's did too: It was the media who got my man Flynn fired – and we all know who owns the media, don't we?

During the Thursday news conference, Trump declared himself "the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life."

Let's say he believes that. Just as he sincerely believes that "nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump" and that he has "great respect" for Mexicans.

That doesn't make it true.

What is true – and as an obsessive CNN viewer he knows this – is that there have been scores of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, his own followers have issued rafts of threatening, Nazi-themed tweets against his Jewish critics, and he has done nothing, nothing at all, to condemn them or act against them.

On the contrary. Here is a political animal with a superhuman sense for what and whom his followers want him to say, do and attack. When he was out working the crowds, he knew in his bones that white supremacist anti-Semites saw him as their great hope. He fed them all the red meat he could dish out.

You can argue that a man disassociated from reality cannot be held accountable for the consequences of his actions, or for enabling or encouraging others to do his dirty work for him. Dirty work which works to his direct advantage.

No more. A man who initiates, fuels, and fans anti-Semitism, a man who is in a direct position to combat it and does not, is, in my view, an anti-Semite.

Early in that news conference, I began to sense that Trump might suffer a stroke. Toward the end, I began to fear that I would. When Trump exploded at, demeaned and dismissed Jewish reporter Jake Turx of the haredi Ami Magazine, when Turx respectfully asked about the demonstrable spate of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, I lost it.

I scared my own family half to death with a convulsion of curses and roars. You could hear my raging into the next block.

I apologize. I apologize for my behavior. But not for my conviction that it's time we called out Trump for what he really is.

"Let me tell you something," Trump said of the "anti-Semite" label after treating the haredi-garbed Turx like an untermensch. "I hate the charge. I find it repulsive."

Trump's right. The charge is repulsive. And it fits.

Jake Turx, it should be noted, disagrees. "It’s very unfair what’s been done to him and I understand why he’s so defensive," he later told Fox News. "And I’m with him when it comes to being outraged about him being charged with this anti-Semitism."

I hope Turx is right. But I've been hoping for Trump to say something, do something about anti-Semitism for well over a year. Trump's silence speaks volumes to avowed, proud anti-Semites. Trump's silence is loud and clear: I'm with you.

The week's finally over. I've calmed down a little. I realize now that watching Trump at that Thursday news conference was like watching a frame-by-frame Zapruder film of a president attempting to assassinate himself.

I don't wish a stroke on him, nor an assassination. I don't blame him for whatever mental afflictions made him this way. But I will do everything I can think of to help remove this hateful man from office.

My favorite aunt, of blessed memory, a Holocaust survivor, once taught me a Hungarian proverb which translates as "One crazy person makes fifty."

Who would have imagined that with the Holocaust still within living memory, and in America of all places, we're watching one crazy person make 300 million.

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