now with embedded tweets restored

Israel supporters defend Trump’s vicious anti-Semitism
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Dec 9 2019

Trump pats Adelson on the arm before speaking at the IAC
National Summit on Dec 7. Photo: Patrick Semansky

On Saturday, Trump spewed out an anti-Semitic diatribe at the Florida conference of the Israeli-American Council, a major lobby group. Trump told the largely Jewish audience:

A lot of you are in the real estate business, because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice.

According to the president, Jews would vote to re-elect him just to protect their wealth. He also suggested that some Jews are not sufficiently loyal to Israel. Trump said:

We have to get them to love Israel more, because you have people that are Jewish people, that are great people, they don’t love Israel enough.

J Street denounced the president’s speech, tweeting:

Demagog Majority for Israel, a lobby group founded to attack supporters of Palestinian rights within the Demagog Party, called the president’s trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes “disgusting.”

But what is remarkable is how mainstream pro-Israel Jewish communal groups tip-toed around the president’s words. Their criticism fell far short of clear condemnation, and the reason is clear. They are prepared to tolerate an anti-Semite and white supremacist in the White House as long as he supports Israel. Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL prefaced his gentle admonishment of Trump with praise for the president’s attack on BDS:

The AJC, another major Israel lobby group, was just as mild, also prefacing its reaction with praise for the president’s anti-Palestinian policies:

Some prominent supporters of Israel actually defended the president’s anti-Semitism. Anti-Palestinian campaigner Rabbi Shmuley Boteach called a headline focusing on Trump’s anti-Jewish remarks “highly misleading” and praised him for “one of the most pro-Israel speeches ever delivered by a Pindo president.”

Caroline Glick, a long-time anti-Palestinian propagandist and JPost contributor, tweeted:

Indeed, Trump used the speech to tout his administration’s serial cave-ins to the lobby. They include moving the Pindo embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s annexation of Syria’s occupied Golan Heights and declaring that Israel isn’t violating international law by building settlements on occupied Palestinian land. It’s no wonder then that Matt Brooks, chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, tweeted:

Morton Klein, the head of ZOA, who typically finds anti-Semitism around every corner, had nothing at all to say. That’s hardly surprising, since the ZOA has previously hosted at its own gala white supremacist Steve Bannon and Nazi sympathizer Sebastian Gorka. This has become a disturbing pattern. In the wake of the deadly synagogue shooting by a white supremacist in Poway, California, in April, Israel lobbyists including ZOA also shielded the far right from criticism. Instead, they tried to deflect blame towards supporters of Palestinian human rights, who had absolutely no connection to that attack or the one by a Nazi at the Pittsburgh Jewish center that killed 11 people in October last year. On Saturday, Trump was hosted by the IAC, which is chaired by convicted tax cheat Adam Milstein, a major funder of anti-Palestinian causes. Another key supporter of the group is Sheldon Adelson, the anti-Palestinian funder who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Trump and Thug Party campaigns. Milstein had nothing but praise for Trump despite the president’s anti-Jewish invective.

Milstein appears to be trailing measures by Trump that are likely to target the Palestine solidarity movement and BDS under the false pretense of combating anti-Jewish bigotry. After all, if Milstein cared about anti-Semitism he’d start by denouncing the president, but he only cares about promoting Israel, even if that comes at the price of endangering Jews by tolerating Trump’s anti-Semitism, or stoking bigotry against others. Though he has denied it, Milstein was reported to be the founder and key funder of Canary Mission, a website that attempts to intimidate student activists into silence by smearing them as supporters of terrorism if they take part in campaigns for Palestinian human rights. There is no doubt that Milstein funds a slew of anti-Palestinian groups, including the Israel on Campus Coalition, which was revealed by Al Jazeera’s leaked undercover documentary to be surveilling Pindo citizens in secret coordination with the Israeli government. In contrast to his appreciation for Trump’s anti-Semitic speech, Milstein took a leading role in inciting false accusations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobic smears against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib earlier this year, solely because of their defense of Palestinian rights.

While real anti-Semitism is downplayed or ignored when it comes from supporters of Israel, false allegations of anti-Jewish bigotry are now the weapon of choice against any politician who dares cross Israel and its lobby. No-one has been a greater target of such false and manufactured smears in recent years than Jeremy Corbyn. With the UK’s Dec 12 general election just days away, the smears are reaching unprecedented levels of dishonesty and audacity.

If these toxic lies have their intended effect of ensuring Corbyn is not elected, the next target of such smears will certainly be Demagog presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator is Jewish and insists he is “pro-Israel.” But his pledge to reduce military aid to Israel makes him enough of a threat that even he will be smeared as a Jew hater by those who give Trump’s very real anti-Semitism a pass.

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