Dec 22, 2021 - World

Trump's remarks on U.S. Jews spark anti-Semitism accusations

Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty

A short excerpt from my interviews with Donald Trump has created a heated debate in the U.S. in recent days, particularly in the Jewish community.

What Trump said: "People in this country that are Jewish no longer love Israel. … I’ll tell you, the evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country," Trump said in April during an interview for my book, "Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East."

  • Trump claimed that Israel once had "absolute power" over Congress but today it’s “the exact opposite," thanks to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
  • Trump noted that both Obama and Biden got a lot of votes from Jewish Americans, “Which tells you that the Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel." Around 75% of Jewish voters backed Biden in 2020, according to several polls.
  • Trump also said the New York Times "hates Israel," despite being run by "Jewish people" (publisher A.G. Sulzberger has Jewish and Christian ancestry).

Driving the news: A recording of Trump’s remarks was aired last Friday on the "Unholy" podcast, hosted by Yonit Levi of Israel’s Channel 12 news and Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian, and an accompanying audio clip has been played 1.5 million times on Twitter.

The other side: Several Jewish organizations called Trump’s remarks anti-Semitic.

  • Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted: "insinuating that Israel or the Jews control Congress or the media is antisemitic."
  • The American Jewish Committee tweeted that Trump’s “past support for Israel doesn’t give him license to traffic in radioactive antisemitic tropes."

My thought bubble: I spoke to the New Yorker's David Remnick for an article he wrote about Trump's remarks, headlined: "Is Donald Trump an anti-Semite?"

  • I told Remnick that I didn't emerge from the interview thinking that Trump was antisemitic, and I was surprised by the uproar the clip had created because the remarks could have just as easily come from an Israeli politician like Benjamin Netanyahu.
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