Friday, October 28, 2016

Why Ivanka Trump's Judaism is no proof her father is not a bigot

Every time I bring up the topic of neo-Nazis and other antisemites who support Donald Trump, I get this answer from his supporters: "But he can't be antisemitic, his own daughter is Jewish."

Here's why that does not fly with me.

My own wife, Caryl, converted to Judaism. This did not, however, change her father's attitude towards Jews and other minorities.  No disrespect intended to the dead, but he took his nasty prejudices to the grave.  He accepted me (grudgingly) because I had married his daughter, but he saw me as an exception.  He was fond of saying,"It's not the individual, it's the race [his word] as a whole." And he continued to make antisemitic remarks and tell offensive jokes behind my back -- to the point that the rest of the family would get up and walk out.

Given this personal experience, I am very skeptical of how accepting The Donald really is of Jews outside his family circle.  Actions speak louder than words.

Trump has repeatedly failed to condemn the antisemitic Twitter trolls who harass Jews online in his name.  On the contrary, he has re-tweeted antisemitic memes from their websites. This, in turn, has encouraged some of his supporters to do likewise. Since Trump began his campaign for president, antisemitic tweets have soared on Twitter, according to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League.

Many of these tweets have been directed at Jewish journalists who dared to write something negative about Trump or members of his family.  His wife, Melania, outrightly blamed the victim for this harassment, claiming that journalist Julia Ioffe had "provoked" the outbursts of antisemitic tweets (including death threats and recordings of Hitler played over the phone) for criticizing her. (Read more.)  When questioned about this, Trump claimed to know nothing about it, and had no message of condemnation for his fans (read more.)  This in spite of the fact that many of these cyber-bullies openly identify themselves as his supporters.

He also tried to blame the media for the furor over the meme he re-tweeted that showed Hillary Clinton on a background of money with "most corrupt candidate ever" inside a six-pointed star.  (Read more)  Trump claimed that this was a "sheriff's star" and not antisemitic.  But as it turned out, the meme was created on a white supremicist website.  You can jolly well bet that they were trying to evoke the "Zionist Occupied Government" (ZOG) supremacist  conspiracy theory that claims Jews run the banks, the government, the media, or whatever else they are angry at.

Did Trump really not know the origin of this graphic?  I doubt it, same as I doubt that Donald Trump, Jr. did not know that "Pepe the Frog" is a racist dog whistle, as he claimed on "Good Morning America".  Either the Trump family is totally out of touch with real life outside their gilded Tower, or they are lying through their teeth.  Either way, their followers are hearing the dog whistles loud and clear.

UPDATE: Trump's final 2-minute ad so clearly evoked these anti-Jewish conspiracy theories that it was openly condemned as antisemitic by numerous reviewers.  (Google "Trump ad antisemitic" for examples.)

What bothers me even more is that Jared Kushner, Ivanka's born-Jewish husband, does not seem to see anything wrong with all this.  In fact, he defended The Donald during the Star of David fiasco, evoking how his grandparents escaped from the Nazis, and citing how his grandfather had survived in the forest. However, members of Jared Kushner's own family were outraged that he would use their grandfather's Holocaust story to defend Trump, and went online to chastise him for it. (Read more on Politico.) 

Since the Hillary meme episode, the online attacks on Jews have only worsened. (Here are some recent examples.)  Alt-right trolls began putting (((triple parentheses))) around names of Jews as a signal to harass them.  This (((echo))) symbol (which used to mean "hugs" in normal net-speak), is now supposed to represent "Jewish influence" radiating out into the world.  In response, many Jews, along with non-Jewish supporters, began putting the echoes around their own names in defiance. Sort of like everyone putting on a yellow star.

I myself have been a victim of this harassment.  My response has been to block the trolls.  I've lost count of how many there have been, but the number has vastly increased as the election campaigning heated up.  (I do not re-tweet these images because that only spreads the hate.)  Needless to say, this is why I do not accept the argument that just because Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism, her father can't be antisemitic.  In my book, he certainly is, as long as he refuses to clearly and unequivocally denounce this antisemitic activity being done in his name.  As the saying goes, silence assents.

(This article was updated by the author on November 9, 2016)