From Jewish Fear and Loathing to Acceptance and Influence in the Trump Administration
Based on the early campaign rhetoric and promises of Donald J. Trump, one would not expect to find the presence of Jewish power structures within the Trump presidency. Indeed, TOO editor Kevin MacDonald wrote a whole series of articles on “Jewish fear and loathing of Trump.”
For example, during the primaries, Trump said to the Republican Jewish Coalition, “You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians, that’s fine. Five months ago, I was with you.” According to a CNN article published on December 3, 2015, “Trump also faced boos from the crowd when in the question-and-answer portion of his appearance he would not pledge to keep Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.” The same article quotes Trump as saying that a peace between Palestine and Israel, “will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.” Many were surprised to a see the leading Republican presidential contender call on Israel to make sacrifices.
Trump’s remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition contrast most with one of his rivals in the primaries, Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham told the same crowd, “How many of you believe we’re losing elections because we’re not hard-ass enough on immigration?” The crowd responded with applause and Graham said, “Well, I don’t agree with you.” He commented that Republicans often lose Hispanic and female voters because of hardline stances on immigration. Graham went on to say, “I think Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party,” which was met with applause. He went on to compare Trump’s rhetoric to that of Hitler and the Nazis: “Now it’s not self-deportation, it’s forced deportation. We’re literally going to round them up — That sound familiar to you?” Here Graham contrasts Trump to the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. On the foreign policy front Graham said, “Do you even think I need to talk to you about my support for Israel?” Later Graham took it a step further, stating “I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America.”
The other Republican contenders also made similar pleas to the coalition. Jim Gilmore oddly bragged about watching Schindler’s List; Rick Santorum commented on his cooperation with the Jewish Democrat, Joe Liebermann; George Pataki said goodbye to the group in Hebrew; and Jeb Bush wished the coalition a happy Hanukkah. Only Donald Trump was even slightly critical of Israel, and more importantly, he was critical of the influence that Jewish money has over politicians.
Later, on February 19, 2016, Trump said “he’d be ‘a neutral guy’ when it comes to negotiating the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” When specifically asked about the conflict Trump was quoted as saying, “Let me be sort of a neutral guy, let’s see what — I’m going to give it a shot. It would be so great.” This is a monumental departure from traditional neoconservative rhetoric of prominent Republicans such as Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz who is quoted as saying, “Just this week, Donald Trump said on a TV program that he would be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. As president, I have no intention of being neutral. As president, I will be unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”
Despite Trump’s early stances on Israel he clearly made a pivot later in the campaign. This pivot became obvious when Trump spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) where, according to a Time article of March 21st, 2016, Trump said, “I speak to you today as a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel. I am a newcomer to politics, but not to backing the Jewish state.” He went on to say, “I came here to speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the state of Israel.” On the subject of a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine Trump said, “To make a great deal, you need two willing participants. We know Israel is willing to deal. Israel has been trying.” That is a massive departure from his statements just a few months earlier to the Republican Jewish Coalition where he called upon Israel to make sacrifices in the name of peace.
After securing the Republican nomination Trump continued on the path of unflinching support for Israel. On September 25, 2016, Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for nearly an hour and a half at Trump Tower in New York City. Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, attended that meeting.
During the general election campaign Trump also began taking money from big Jewish donors such as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson reportedly gave Trump a $5 million donation, which — along with the $45 million donated to other Republican candidates — made him the largest donor of the 2016 election cycle (although his donations paled to what he gave Romney in 2012). Adelson also contributed $5 million to Trump’s inauguration.
Upon winning the presidency, Trump ramped up his support for the Jewish state, and he began to surround himself with the very people from whom he did not want to take money back in December 2015. Trump named the former chief information officer of Goldman-Sachs, Steve Mnuchin, as Secretary of the Treasury who has a long history of donating to both Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns including the campaigns of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney. Moreover, Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka seem to be taking an ever more prominent role in his father-in-law’s administration.
This is happening as Trump’s campaign CEO, White House Chief Strategist, and former National Security Council (NSC) member Steve Bannon is being noticeably demoted. On April 5, Bannon was removed from the NSC and shortly thereafter Trump engaged in his unwarranted airstrike against a Syrian government run airfield. Since Bannon’s removal from the NSC Kushner has taken an increasingly visible and prominent role in the Trump White House, and Trump has been pursuing a more traditional neoconservative foreign policy which centers around strong support for Israel, a troop surge in Afghanistan, hostility toward Russia, and, quite possibly, a more interventionalist stance towards Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Zachary Karabell summarizes the transformations of the Trump administration into something essentially unrecognizably related to Trump’s campaign rhetoric (“Finally, a force that can stop nationalism in the White House: Wealthy elites“) Since it appears in the Washington Post, the subtitle shouldn’t surprise: “The super-rich members of Trump’s Cabinet have hobbled the ethno-nationalists. And that’s a good thing.” The caption to the photo reiterates the message: Steve Bannon and the ethno-nationalists lost.
In particular, referring specifically to Trump changing his mind on withdrawing from NAFTA,
The globalists who won this round are, by and large, precisely what their opponents deride them as: urban, wealthy, connected to the web of influence that flows from Wall Street to Washington, and more comfortable with a modified economic status-quo than a Jacobean recasting of society. They include the well-to-do Gary Cohn of the National Economic Council, formerly president of Goldman Sachs; Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, scion of a New York-New Jersey real estate family; and others, such as Dina Powell, also late of Goldman, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Ivanka Trump.
Overall, one can clearly see how Donald Trump’s tune on both Israel and Jewish political power structures have changed over time. He started out his presidential bid very critical of politicians who come under the influence of big Jewish donors, and he called upon Israel to make sacrifices in the name of a lasting peace with Palestine. He then made a complete pivot when he pledged unwavering support to Israel which (not surprisingly) occurred around the time he started taking big donations from Zionist Jewish donors. Now he has built an administration which seems to be under the influence of the traditional Jewish power structures which have dominated American politics for decades. Jews have indeed gone from a fear and loathing to acceptance and influence over Donald Trump.
We should not lose our hope though. It is early yet, and we have seen that this President has the courage to say the truth. We should hold on to the hope that Donald Trump can return to the tenets of his early campaign before the Jewish money started rolling in.
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