Any American adult who followed the ascent of Trump and his presidential administration knew to some degree that an essential part of his voter base was a nationalist, racist, white supremacist. And as a byproduct of those malign engines, Jew-haters.
This has been a part of Trump’s entire adult professional and his presidential administration for the past four years.
His beliefs and, more importantly, the closest advisors that publicly provided advice, were omnipresent. They are still giving him advice today.
So, it is very surprising to find that Trump’s largest financial supporters, some of whom gave him and his various political action committees millions in contributions to advance his cause, were Jewish. Most were members of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).
The question is, why would American Jews, many of them billionaires and astute business people, donate money to a man who has direct links to anti-Semites?
Why would they willingly and repeatedly give Trump and his Republican party money and moral support, to whatever degree, to various groups, some of them violent, who have denied the Holocaust and conducted violent attacks against Jewish institutions?
What was the goal of these wealthy Jewish contributors who, to some degree, have directly funded campaigns against the safety of unsuspecting fellow Jews that could be conducted anywhere in the US?
Serious questions that demand serious answers
This is a serious political, ethical, and potentially Talmudic question.
This problem affects almost every individual Jewish family and major US Jewish organization. In 2019, Jews in the United States suffered the largest number of anti-Semitic incidents since the Anti-Defamation League began collecting records 40 years ago.
This is also a question most Jewish institutions will not publicly answer. The reason is that the same large contributors to Trump and his Republican party are also significant contributors to Jewish charitable and educational organizations worldwide.
When fundraising is especially hard, these same groups will not criticize Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Bernie Marcus, Jeffrey Yass, Paul Singer, Steven Schwarzman, and many others in the RJC. (The Adelson’s are Trump’s largest individual contributors, with $75 million in donations.) They are all donors and funders, to whatever degree, to Trump’s white supremacist followers.
Worse, the top executives at the nation’s largest Jewish organizations all knew about this dilemma, but because they were receiving contributions from these same wealthy Republicans, they could not criticize their political actions in public, even when they knew they were working at cross-purposes. They were on opposite sides of the spectrum: One group was raising money and working to combat anti-Semitism, while the RJC was, to some degree, encouraging, financing or providing moral support through Trump and his Team Party Republicans, to groups that were white supremacists.
This situation has created a large ethical and financial dilemma inside these organizations. It raises the question: How do you take much-needed money from ethically-compromised people who put their own self-interests above those of their neighbors?
The current situation is akin to a fireman who is an arsonist in his off-duty hours. He starts fires and then fights fires. He benefits in the process, but at what price to the overall community?
Wealthy donors will deny they knew anything
At this point, we will hear that the large donors to Trump did not know about his anti-Semitic links.
That is simply not believable, especially after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol with confirmed law enforcement links to hate groups.
These successful business people have extraordinary abilities and resources to gather facts and intelligence about competitors, employees, investment strategies, and business takeover candidates.
So, for us to believe that these major contributors could not read the reams of reports generated by the ADL, B’nai Brith, Southern Poverty Law Center, FBI, the American Jewish Committee, United Nations, U.S. State Department, and others about the connections and goals of the various white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups that emerged and grew during Trump’s presidency is not credible. A simple Google search would have produced the results.
Yet, many of these same wealthy contributors will feign ignorance of Trump’s connections to racist groups. This response is an insult to our intelligence.
People can contribute to any political cause
Of course, Americans, of any religion, are free to contribute any amount to any political cause. That’s an American right.
People contribute to political candidates and parties for a few reasons:
- They like the candidate;
- They like what the candidate and the party stand for;
- They want to be involved in the electoral process;
- They want political access for ego, to conduct business or for favors (special tax treatment, etc.).
Those in the Republican Jewish Coalition, the major national Jewish group making donations to Republicans and Trump, have members who also embrace the goals listed above.
Yet, one of their main goals is to make donations that will alter US policy towards Israel. This goal is different from most other major political groups that have a religious affiliation. After all, Catholic groups that contribute to Republicans do not favor special treatment for the Vatican or other Catholics worldwide.
But the focus on the RJC and its main contributors, Sheldon Adelson and Bernie Marcus, among others, raises the very uncomfortable and very old issue of dual Jewish loyalty and whether the AJC’s contributions were made to bolster pro-Israel State Department policies.
This was undoubtedly a reason for Adelson’s huge largesse. But the RJC’s contributions also advanced Trump’s despicable domestic policies. His policies included anti-immigrant actions, voter suppression, anti-environment, political disenfranchisement, and family separation plans. All all of these are antithetical to Jewish values.
The RJC made these huge contributions even when they knew Trump was attracting and encouraging racist and anti-Semitic elements into his administration and voter base.
This is the central question that demands an answer.
Too Sensitive for Public Discussion
As noted earlier, discussing this topic will probably not happen publicly by the nation’s largest Jewish groups. It is too politically, ethically, and financially sensitive.
This is understandable. These organizations need donations from wealthy Republican Jews. They also don’t need the tsoris of revealing what was said in sensitive debates about whether they should take money from fellow Jews who advance, to whatever degree, anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions against other Jews.
The Capitol’s attack by violent right-wing groups benefitted from the millions in donations from the RJC. That group does not respond to questions, so it is the responsibility of other Jewish organizations to address this problem publicly.
At the least, the RJC and its members should make amends to the national Jewish community, including the elderly, Jewish day school students and their parents, Jewish college students on campus, who are all now more afraid for their safety. There are also reports that the fear of anti-Semitic attacks has mental health ramifications. These groups are now more personally vulnerable for displaying their Jewish symbols, and generally more insecure.
All this happened because some Republican Jews, many of them billionaires, had their own political, business, and social agendas that put the larger Jewish population at risk for months and possibly years into the future.
There may be no organizational or social solution to this problem. It may have a Talmudic answer, but that is for the religious and lay leaders to decide.
But it’s clear that Trump has disrupted the American political process for years to come. Even worse, so have Trump’s most generous and selfish Jewish supporters.