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According to Yoni Ariel, since the first Republican primaries, the Trump campaign has been based on subtle and not so subtle racial dog whistles. Whether he personally is or is not anti-Semitic is irrelevant. What matters is that his campaign has legitimized racism and anti-Semitism, in effect giving them a “hechsher” (kosher approval). The last time a white supremacy demon was released, it didn’t work out particularly well for us, the Jewish people.
For over two generations, at least two-thirds of the Jewish community has consistently voted for the Democrats. Since 1932, in only two elections did the Republican candidate get more than a third of the Jewish vote, Eisenhower in 1956 and Reagan in 1980. Even after other ethnic whites who had been part of the FDR coalition began deserting the Democrats, the Jews stayed put. As one Republican strategist put it, “the Jews earn like Republicans but still vote like Democrats.”
According to the latest polls regarding the Jewish vote, this election is not going to herald any major change. Barring a major last minute surprise, Clinton is expected to get between 65%-70% of the Jewish vote, with some polls giving her 75%.
Normally, a Republican getting between a quarter to a third of the Jewish vote is par for the course. This election, however, is not normal. Not since George Wallace’s overtly segregationist campaign in 1968, has America experienced a campaign as full of racist vitriol as Trump’s.
Although at first directed primarily against Hispanics and Afro-Americans, it didn’t take long for the campaign to add anti-Semitism to its repertoire. The first sign of what was to come was that infamous campaign ad with a picture of Hillary surrounded by dollar bills captioned “most corrupt candidate” and a Star of David. The dog whistle was very clear to Trump supporter David Duke, a notorious anti-Semite and former KKK Grand Wizard.
This opened the floodgates. Since then, the Trump campaign has constantly blown a series of anti-Semitic dog whistles. These whistles were heard, as witnessed by the deluge of anti-Semitism on social media generated by Trump supporters, and the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in general. In addition, we have seen several Trump rallies descend into orgies of anti-Semitism. Fans regale him with the Nazi salute and shout anti-Semitic slogans such as “death to ZOG,” “JewSA,” and even “Christ killers out.”
Despite these warning signs, Trump has singularly failed to disavow his anti-Semitic supporters, or in any way distance himself from them and their vile poison.
The result has been to bring racism and anti-Semitism back from the margins to the center stage of the public debate, in effect giving them a kashrut certificate. Thanks to the Trump campaign, anti-Semitism is no longer beyond the pale.
Humans, like our ape cousins, are influenced by group behavior. When members of a troupe of chimps start to attack a particular individual, one of two things happen. The first scenario is that other members put an end to it. The second is that they at first don’t care. As the bullying gets worse, others join in until it turns into a shark feeding frenzy.
Anti-Semitism is no different. We have seen this before. The rise of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany legitimized and fueled its rise throughout the world. No one stepped up to stop it and as it got worse, the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism, like an infection, spread.
Trump Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
The best examples of the impact of this are the White Papers limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine and America’s decision to refuse entry to Jews trying to flee Germany. Both of these decisions contributed to the Holocaust.
It’s too early to know what will happen to the new wave of anti-Semitism generated by the Trump campaign. Hopefully, it will fail to garner sufficient traction and will gradually peter out. We cannot, however, afford the luxury of assuming this will be the outcome.
One thing is definite: a Trump victory makes it much more likely that the wave of alt-right anti-Semitism will not just go away but will gather momentum and like any wave that gets stronger and higher, will attract more and more surfers.
All those Jews who intend to vote for Trump, either because they genuinely think he will let Israel continue to build settlements or because they hate Hillary, should think again. Whatever Hillary’s faults, she is no bigot and no anti-Semite.
Any Jew voting for Trump in order to indulge their dislike of Hillary is the ultimate example of cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face. Voting for Trump because you prioritize keeping Judea and Samaria / the West Bank over everything else is the ultimate example of penny-wise pound-foolish.
Every American Jew must ask themselves one question. How will they tell their children and grandchildren that, despite all the red and yellow flashing warning lights, they voted for a candidate who ended up unleashing the worst wave of anti-Semitism since World War II?