On Sunday afternoon, as Hanukkah was about to commence, Donald Trump sent out a greeting to his “Jewish friends,” of which he has few. In this obligatory greeting, Trump wished me and my fellow tribe mates health and happiness, gave a lesson on how not to use the comma, and – most importantly – inspired the ire of many Jews across America by offering us wishes in the first place.
Why? American Jews recognize Trump as the contemporary incarnation of George Wallace and Joseph McCarthy. We reject his hateful incitements against Muslim-Americans, drawing upon the same fears which inspire those anti-Semites who would like to do us harm. And we remember 1939, when the United States, full of fear and bigotry, refused to take us in as we fled Nazi Germany. We remember those who were murdered in Europe, and find Trump’s rejection of Syrian refugees to be both monstrous and dangerous.
It is for these reasons that, when Trump offered his Hanukkah greeting, I immediately rejected it, as did scores of Jews across the country:
I rejected his greeting not just because his bigotry towards Muslims is abhorrent, but because he is inspiring bigots to boast all of their various prejudices, including anti-Semitism. In Salon, Matthew Rozsa wrote, “If you are a Jew, you should be very afraid of Donald Trump.” Not just because he is inspiring once-dormant anti-Semites to begin attacking Jews, but because he himself has revealed his own anti-Semitism.
Speaking before Republican Jews recently, Trump looked at the room and said, “I’m a negotiator, like you folks…is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”
Nobody was surprised to hear anti-Semitic echoes in his words. After all, he once said this:
“Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.