What's Behind the Accusations that Trump is Anti-Semitic?
As the screenwriter of two feature films about the Holocaust, one of which was nominated for several Academy Awards, and also the author of a series of prize-winning mystery novels about a Jewish detective, I think I can safely say that I have spent a good deal of my life paying close attention to matters of anti-Semitism.
I write this only partly to toot my own horn but also to give some weight to the considerable perplexity with which I view the growing meme that Donald Trump is somehow anti-Semitic. Not only are more members of his immediate family -- daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law and therefore various grandchildren -- Jewish than any previous president, his cabinet and advisers are chock-full of my coreligionists. Trump -- he of the "New York values" and the countless hours on the Howard Stern radio show -- has lived a life surrounded by and working with Jews with no problem that I have ever heard about.
The accusations never made sense to me. When I first read his statement on Holocaust Day, I didn't even notice that it didn't mention the Jews. Like a lot of people, I already assumed that was what was meant. Wasn't the Holocaust about the Jews, largely? (Yes, of course, there were others, but virtually every Holocaust book or movie is about the Jews with only a few exceptions. Some barely mention the Jews by name because it's a given. It's almost an example of metonymy.) I didn't even think to ask about it until some gotcha artists in the media who attack Trump for just about everything endlessly called attention to it. Maybe it was a deliberate omission on his administration's part, but I sincerely doubt it. It certainly was nothing like making the prime minister of Israel cool his heels with his staff in the lower part of the White House, which our former president did while he went upstairs to eat dinner alone with his family. That was a truly calculated act.
And then there was the question by the Hasidic reporter at the press conference. Trump -- who we know has a thin skin -- jumped on the young man because Donald evidently thought he was once again about to be accused unfairly of anti-Semitism. I might have done the same myself. The young reporter, to his credit, clearly understood this and forgave Trump in in a post-conference interview, although the same gotcha artists in the press did not, most likely deliberately. (Speaking of which, the deliberate misunderstanding of Trump seems almost to be a disease with much of media. Sometimes it veers to the comical. If the SNL writers were genuinely sophisticated, they would show that. But they daren't.)
And then there was the -- unsolved at this writing -- series of threatening phone calls made to Jewish Community Centers over the weekend coupled with the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery. Hillary Clinton -- she of the "Suha kiss" -- jumped on Trump for being tardy in his condemnation. But when he did make one, just a few hours later, it was direct and forthright.