Tags: Donald Trump | Israel | Middle East | jews | tlaib | omar

Trump Is a Critic of Liberalism, Not an Anti-Semite

trump and netanyahu in march of this year

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, holding the signed proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as Netanyahu leaves the White House in March of this year. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

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Thursday, 22 August 2019 04:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Calling Donald Trump, the president of the United States, an anti-Semite has been a trope of many Jewish communal leaders and members of the media.

Mainstream Democrats have now joined these groups, taking up the call.

These Democrats joined the chorus following the president's comments about Democratically-voting Jews showing disloyalty.

I am not an apologist for the president. I've been critical of many of Donald Trump's statements, decisions and actions. At the same time there are many things about which I have been very supportive. I am an equal opportunity critic and supporter.

The charge that President Trump is an Anti-Semite is ludicrous.

There are so many reasons why the trope is ridiculous that it even feels ludicrous to even consider discussing the subject — but, discuss it we must.

Donald Trump is not a liberal. He does not come from a family of liberals. His points of view often fly in the face of the traditional, liberal, mainstream Jewish community, just as they fly in the face of traditional, liberal, mainstream non-Jews.

But honestly, and this should be very clear, there are enough true Anti-Semites out there; they may be found on both sides of the political aisle.

We do not have to create new Jew haters where they do not exist.

That is not to say that some of Trump's statements have not energized and activated racists and Anti-Semites. The most recent case in point, obviously, is his responses to the request of Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ihlan Omar, D-Minn., to visit Israel.

These Trump-isms were spouted in response to what the president viscerally understood to be the blatant anti-Semitism of the congresswomen.

Trump's comments, both the original and his follow-up statement, were pretty vague — so vague that one cannot determine if he meant disloyal to Israel, disloyal to him, or disloyal to their Jewish roots.

I would guess he meant the last — disloyal to Judaism.

Anti-Trumpers are never at a loss to find ways to attack the president.

Most people — regular people, not just politicians and world leaders, would never have written or uttered that sentiment.

But Trump is Trump. He sees the world pretty clearly.

But the president sees it through his own prism.

And Donald Trump's love for Israel and his love for the Jewish people are front and center.

They are an intrinsic part of his character and date way back before his daughter's conversion and subsequent marriage, and the birth of his Jewish grandchildren.

On a parallel track to calling Donald Trump an anti-Semite is the newly-emerging and equally ill-conceived school of thought that criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic.

The argument for that line of thinking, which has been gaining traction in Jewish and non-Jewish forums alike, is don't label every criticism and critic of Israel an anti-Semite.

As an example, proponents of this erroneous thinking will point to former President Barack Obama and say that Obama was a great lover of Israel, but he was also a vocal critic.

He would say "friends need to call friends out when they make mistakes."

That may be true, but — and it's a huge and significant but — some people couch their anti-Semitism as criticism of Israel. It's their protective cloak. After all, it's safer and much more politically correct to be critical of a country than it is to criticize a religion or people.

There are two factors that determine if the person criticizing Israel is an anti-Semite:

First, does the critique allow for Israel to exist or does it suggest that if Israel were not there the problem would be solved. Second, is the tone of the critique.

Tone is everything. Critique is done with respect and love and is immediately identifiable.

That sort of criticism does not seek to harm or destroy, but rather to help and assist.

We call it constructive criticism. It's a time honored tool of both educators and parents.

Much of the recent and very vocal public criticism of Israel does not stand up to these factors. Certainly, U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib fits into the category of anti-Semite.

Pay attention to what Trump said and how he said it and it will become obvious that these two factors are not at all present in the comments of Donald Trump.

Some Israelis are attempting to explain the anti-Semitic tropes aimed at Trump by fellow Israelis and Jews following his "loyalty" statement by saying that those people are, actually, self-hating Jews.

I don't buy it.

The Jews saying these things very much like themselves. And they like others who share their point of view and want many more people to share their point of view. Self-hating Jews are haters. They don't like and are embarrassed by proud Jews, Israeli Jews, Jewish Jews, Republican Jews and especially those Jews who like Trump — and that includes Israelis who like Trump.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise. It needs to be confronted, not manufactured.

It is present on the right and on the left. Good people on both sides of the aisle should unite to fight the scourge that does not discriminate because of political allegiance or national allegiance Anti-Semitism.

Because you disagree with someone about Israel, or with someone who is Jewish, you are not an anti-Semite. We have real variables to evaluate the anti-Semitic claim. Comments made by Tlaib and Omar have been neither nuanced nor vague, they are blatantly anti-Semitic. Donald Trump's comments are not.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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Because you disagree with someone about Israel, or with someone who is Jewish, you are not an anti-Semite. Comments made by Tlaib and Omar have been neither nuanced nor vague, they are blatantly anti-Semitic. Donald Trump's comments are not.
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