In the wake of an uproar over a purportedly anti-Semitic tweet by Donald Trump, Jason Greenblatt, an adviser on Israel to the presumptive Republican nominee and an executive at his organization vehemently defended Trump, who he said had an "utter lack of the slightest ill will against Jews."
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In the op-ed, headlined "I’m a Jew who has worked with Donald Trump for years. He’s no anti-Semite," Greenblatt called the criticism of Trump over the tweet, which juxtaposed a picture of Hillary Clinton with a Star of David over a background of dollar bills, a "character assassination over a six-pointed star that appeared as one image in a tweeted meme."
Greenblatt, who didn't mention reports that the source of the image was a white supremacist message board, said that "knowing Donald Trump as well as I do, and knowing his utter lack of the slightest ill will toward Jews, it is not the least bit surprising to me that he would not have seen any connection between the meme and any kind of anti-Jewish sentiment."
Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew, said that his employment with the Trump Organization proved that the presidential candidate was no anti-Semite. Trump not only tolerated his limitations due to observance of the Sabbath and of Jewish holidays but encouraged them, Greenblatt said. "He understands that my faith is a blessing, an important part of who I am, and he values me more for it," he said.
"Mr. Trump respects my Judaism. He appreciates my unique, religiously demanding lifestyle, and he makes sure I feel it and am proud of it. I base this not on Twitter shapes or tongue-in-cheek comments, but on real-life experiences that have impacted me, my wife and our six children," Greenblatt said.
In the op-ed, Greenblatt condemned the online anti-Semitic abuse suffered by "Bethany Mandel, Dana Schwartz, Jonathan Weisman and other journalists" who criticized Trump, calling it vile and loathsome, but added that he also "received hateful tweets and Facebook posts," but "from the opposite end - from Jews who have criticized me with tremendous ugliness."
Greenblatt wrote that blaming Trump won't end social media bigotry, and ended his op-ed with a call to "unify our country and to eliminate all forms of hatred and bigotry, in our nation and across the globe."
In a case not specifically mentioned by Greenblatt, Julia Ioffe, another Jewish journalist, was targeted by death threats and bombarded by hateful tweets, phone calls and emails, seemingly from Trump supporters, after her profile of Melania Trump was published in GQ Magazine. Trump's wife later said that "there are people out there who maybe went too far," but accused Ioffe of provoking the abuse.
This was not the first time Greenblatt tackled accusations of anti-Semitism surrounding the Trump campaign, specifically regarding posts by the nominee's supporters on social media. In May, Greenblatt wrote in Haaretz that it was "reckless and ill-informed" to link Trump to hate speech by anonymous internet users.