Trump, Pittsburgh and Poway
Trump, Pittsburgh and Poway

At first glance, the massacre of Jews in Pittsburgh and the shooting at Poway cast a dark shadow on President Trump’s presidency. Just two years after his inauguration, Jewish faithful have been murdered twice in synagogues by white supremacists. Hate crimes in America have risen during the Trump administration: from 7,615 in 2016 to 8,828 in 2017. This is a rise of 17%. Most chilling is the 37% spike in attacks against Jews during this period.

Mainstream journalists have rushed to issue a premature verdict on these crimes. Their verdict is that President Trump has emboldened white supremacists. As incriminating evidence, President Trump’s remarks on the Charlottesville protests almost two years ago are routinely bandied around.

Remarkably, between 2016 and 2017, hate crimes reported to the FBI against Latinos remained steady at 10.9% of race-based hate crimes, rising by just 14%, while anti-Muslim hate crimes actually dipped by 16% during the same period.

This breakdown shows that President Trump’s controversial statements against illegal immigrants and Islam have not emboldened attacks against Latinos and Muslims. On the contrary, FBI figures suggest that Muslims are more secure now in America than under Obama’s administration.

The Trump administration appears to have a specifically Jewish problem. Since President Trump has not made any controversial statements about Jews or Israel during his administration, we should discount any anti-Jewish incitement originating from the White House.

On the contrary, a powerful case can be made that the Trump Administration has been the most pro-Jewish administration in modern American history: President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Golan Heights as Israeli and has stopped funding the terror-friendly Palestinian Authority. It is these accomplishments of the Trump Administration that shed light on the origins of anti-Jewish animus in contemporary America.

For the far-right, Trump’s pro-Jewish positions are particularly galling. The fact that Trump eschews political correctness yet is surrounded by Jewish advisers and strongly supports Israel, adds insult to injury. Since Trump’s son-in-law and daughter are both observant Jews, neo-Nazi websites obsessively claim that Jews control the White House and America.

To be fair to neo-Nazi websites, mainstream American media also indulge in Jew-bating. Just before the armed assault on the Poway synagogue, the international edition of the New York Times ran a cartoon depicting a blind Trump wearing a yarmulke being taken for a walk by a dog sporting a Star of David.

This normalization of antisemitism and anti-Zionism in mainstream media is shocking and across the board. CNN, the Washington Post and Huffington Post also attack President Trump’s Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner, the Trump administration’s fresh approach towards the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Israeli government viciously.

Meanwhile, liberal pundits downplay the recurrent anti-Semitic innuendos spewed by Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Her remarks about the political influence and loyalties of Jewish Americans provide a respectable platform for anti-Jewish tropes previously confined to neo-Nazi and Islamic milieus.

Democratic presidential heavyweights like Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have joined this chorus by expressing solidarity towards Mrs. Omar, labeling Israel’s government as “racist” and boycotting the AIPAC conference respectively.

These dynamics help explain the surge of far-right attacks against Jews in America. Leftist anti-Semites are confident that time is on their side given that the Democratic Party is increasingly hostile towards Israel and American Jews. On the other hand, rightist anti-Semites are dismayed that antisemitism has been spurned by the most right-wing administration in living memory.

Rightist anti-Semites rightly see their anti-Semitic dreams buried by a president on which they had pinned high hopes due to his nationalist rhetoric. White supremacists, realizing how ill-founded their hopes were, vent their frustration and anger by attacking Jews.

It is therefore time to realize that progressive politicians and the mainstream media paved the way for Pittsburgh and Poway rather than any word or deed of President Trump. If anything, these tragedies bear witness to President Trump’s enduring love and support for Israel and the Jewish people.