EDITORIAL: Is Trump anti-Semite or friend of the Jewish people?

By: The Gazette editorial board
February 16, 2017 Updated: February 16, 2017 at 6:41 am
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President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump may be anti-Semitic, say a litany of journalists and social media pundits. If he's not anti-Semitic, they charge, he actively sought support of anti- Semites during his campaign. If not that, he is somehow responsible for every troll who sends anti-Jewish hate mail.

Wednesday, their claims met a formidable challenge.

"There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the two men met in Washington.

The social media reaction was swift and astonishingly defensive. Trump critics responded directly to Netanyahu's statement by doubling down on claims the president is anti-Semitic, or at least in the business of attracting anti-Semitic support.

Like or dislike Trump, it is hard to see him as an anti-Jewish hate monger.

Trump depended heavily on his Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and her Jewish husband, Jared Kushner, to campaign for him in Colorado and all other battleground states. If Trump's intent was the courting of anti-Semites, it seems a bad strategy to put his Jewish family on the campaign trail and then install them in the White House.

If Trump seeks the approval of anti-Semites, his appointment of Kushner as his top adviser seems contrary to the goal.

If he is a threat to the Jewish community, we are equally baffled that Larry Mizel was Trump's unabashed supporter and top fundraiser in Colorado. Mizel, chairman and CEO of MDC holdings, is chairman and co-founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center on international Jewish human rights.

Although Trump can't seem to overcome bizarre charges of anti-Semitism, it was President Barack Obama who endangered our country's valuable alliance with Israel.

Only last year, a senior White House official conducted an interview with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who was considered among journalists with the best connections to Obama and his staff. The "ranking official" called Netanyahu a "chicken"-expletive who is "scared to launch wars."

"He (Netanyahu) won't do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states," the "senior official" said. "The only thing he's interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He's not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he's not [Ariel] Sharon, he's certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He's got no guts."

The New Yorker reported in 2015 that White House officials considered Netanyahu "myopic, entitled, untrustworthy, routinely disrespectful toward the president, and focused solely on short-term political tactics to keep his right-wing constituency in line."

Unlike the arm-in-arm friendship Trump and Netanyahu exude, meetings between Obama and Netanyahu always appeared uncomfortable for both men. Tensions piqued when Obama inked a nuclear arms deal with Iran, against Netanyahu's counsel. The Iranian dictatorship has pledged to wipe Israel off the map.

None of us can know what's in a president's heart, so critics can continue calling Trump a threat to Jews. Meanwhile, we know our government's relationship with Israel has quickly taken a giant step forward. That's good news for the United States, Israel and Jews around the globe.

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