After at least four years of funding the Trump administration and Republicans to the tune of over $100 million, the Republican Jewish Coalition is now admitting it made some mistakes.
The RJC now says it finds the comments of Congresswoman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.), a QAnon supporter and rabid Trump supporter, “indefensible and unacceptable” after she said the Rothschilds were using a laser beam from space to start wildfires in California. The RJC said it had earlier supported her opponent in the Republican primary.
But in the vote to remove Greene from her committee assignments, she was supported by 199 Republican Congressmen, who effectively endorsed her QAnon positions. All, if not most of the 199 Republican Congressmen who supported Greene, received money from the RJC. As logic dictates, this means the RJC has a direct role in supporting a QAnon mouthpiece, despite their denials.
In another apology, the RJC said on January 7 that it condemned “the abhorrent mob attack” on the Capitol on January 6. It then congratulated Biden on winning the presidency and reiterated its primary goals of strengthening “the US-Israel relationship and preventing a nuclear Iran.”
What was missing from the RJC’s statement was that it did not address the role it played in financing Trump, who in turn invited the mob to the White House and may have had a role in planning the attack.
These are astounding admissions from the RJC, which is supposed to represent the wealthiest American Jews who espoused Trumpism and its inherent extreme right-wing policies during his entire presidency.
But there are significant omissions here.
Sheldon Adelson Made Some Big Losing Bets
The RJC and its wealthiest members continue to evade the apparent connection between its constantly escalating contributions to Trump and his Republican Party from 2016 to 2020, which parallels a corresponding increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks nationwide, according to FBI and ADL statistics.
The RJC was largely shaped and driven by Sheldon Adelson, who died January 12, 2021, days after Trump’s defeat. Adelson was the largest donor, $25 million, to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He also was the largest individual donor to Republicans in the 2012 election at nearly $93 million.
Adelson was also the driving political, charismatic and financial force behind the RJC, which shaped its hard-right policies. Adelson’s policies effectively declared war on liberal pro-Israel groups that were not sufficiently opposed to any real or perceived intrusion against Israel from Palestinians and Iran.
Trump Was Called the “King of the Jews” by Evangelicals
One of the great examples of how the RJC and Adelson’s money was used by Republicans was the decision by the US State Department to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. At the time, this was heralded as a great victory for Adelson, the RJC, and his extravagant donations.
But that’s not the real story.
In an article in the Tablet by Shaul Magid, that move was done to appease the Evangelicals, not Adelson, his Israel nationalist supporters, or the Israeli government.
“It is no accident that evangelical John Hagee gave the invocation at the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem. As Trump said afterward, ‘I did this for the evangelicals.’ On one (Zionist) Christian reading, the Jews may think they are exercising their right of self-determination, but they are really pawns, paving the way for the return of Christ (including the predicted end-time destruction of those Jews who refuse to accept Christ).
“But (Jewish) Zionists don’t care, because for them it is the Christians who are the pawns in the story of their own heroic redemption. Each is conspiratorial in its own way. And they can do business together,” according to the Tablet article.
This puts a new perspective on some of the events the Trump administration did in Israel for the supposed benefit of Adelson and the RJC. In one instance, Evangelicals called Trump “the King of the Jews,” which should have alarmed most of Trump’s right-wing Jewish supporters. But apparently, it had no impact on their blind support of Trump.
Adelson was a complex man who was simultaneously too charitable, tenacious, and aggressive. His death probably won’t change the RJC’s direction. His wife Miriam will see to that. She is a right-wing Israeli and now has the purse strings to fund Republicans, many of whom are increasingly right-wing Christian nationalists who are potentially violent, still believe Biden “stole” the election, and are prone to fringe conspiracies. This sect also abhors compromise.
This will put the RJC in a corner. Should they financially support these groups if they give lip service to being pro-Israel? Or, will the RJC realize their money is virtually funding groups who behind closed doors believe the Rothschilds are using laser beams to start fires?
The RJC is an Israel Nationalist Group
As a hard-core right-wing Republican political group focused on Israel and tax policies, the RJC does not publicly address domestic issues on its web site, aside from the containment of the COVID virus. This is no mistake.
It’s an omission that should be of interest to any Jewish political group with the word “Jewish” in its title. The reason is simple: the RJC is an American-based financial powerhouse that promotes Israeli nationalism. It is not a political group that supports Jewish values. It does not tolerate liberal or non-Orthodox Judaism or any other pro-Israel group that even considers co-existence with the Palestinians or Iran.
In its mission statement, the RJC says it seeks to “foster and enhance ties between the American Jewish community and Republican decision-makers. We work to sensitize Republican leadership in government and the Party to the concerns and issues of the Jewish community while articulating and advocating Republican ideas and policies within the Jewish community.”
This means the RJC has two primary purposes: To promote “concerns and issues of the Jewish community” to Republicans in Congress and convert Jewish Democrats into becoming Republicans.
On both issues, the RJC is a failure.
The majority of American Jews are concerned about issues that exclude Trumpism. American Jews value social and humanitarian programs, social justice, fair taxation, unfettered access to voting, and environmentalism. These are issues that do not concern most Republicans.
Second, the RJC misses the historical fact that American Jews have been Democrats since the early 1900s. A 2019 Gallup poll found that about 60% of American Jews were Democrats. This pattern dates back to presidential elections since 1916, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.
So, where does that leave the RJC and its very limited mission statement?
The RJC is a political-social club for some of the nation’s wealthiest Republicans who happen to be Jewish. While they are predominantly a pro-Israel at-any-cost organization, and on that issue alone, the RJC would have a following in the national Jewish community.
But after that, the RJC’s rabid advocacy for Republican policies—anti-immigration, boosting the military budget, limited taxation on the wealthiest Americans, reducing or eliminating social programs–don’t reflect any 20th Century Jewish values, aside from those held in extreme Orthodox, rabidly pro-Israel segments of the Jewish community.
This is why the RJC did not respond to this statement from the Jewish Democratic Council of America in 2019, which (referring to Trump) said: “And most prescient, the biggest threat to the security of American Jews today is, incredibly, the president of the United States.”
Rabid, pro-Trump Jews were also active on a few Facebook groups immediately before the 2020 election. On these groups, Republican Jews attacked anyone who was a Democrat. They were called “traitors,” “fake Jews,” “libtards” and other slurs used mainly on FOX news. They also falsely claimed that most American Jews were Republicans, a demonstrably false claim but was an attempt to sow disinformation.
The RJC Is an Extremist Organization
What will the RJC look like in the Biden presidency?
First and foremost, the RJC is an unrepentant Republican organization. Their prime concern is promoting Israel and limiting Iran’s influence. (Sheldon Adelson paid for the new AIPAC headquarters in Washington DC.) The RJC has no interest in advocating for domestic social programs, reforms of Trump-era executive orders, including its preferential tax laws and loopholes that only apply to the wealthiest Americans. These priorities will not change.
If the public applies pressure to the RJC, they could be forced to omit the word “Jewish” from their organization’s name. Their goals and values are wildly out of touch with most American Jews, most of whom will bear the brunt of any anti-Semitic attacks in the years ahead.
Public pressure will also force the RJC to make more public apologies for the upcoming slew of anti-Democratic, fringe Republicans who will be named in forthcoming investigations into the Trump administration and the attack on the Capitol.
Synagogues should also ask the RJC to pay for the added security costs they now must pay to protect their facilities and congregants from anti-Semitic threats and possible attacks.
Lastly and most importantly, some intrepid Jewish leaders should come forward to address this schism between the RJC, its wealthy members, and the larger community of average American Jews, who are predominantly Democrats. This makes the RJC very different from almost all other Jewish groups formed to apply Jewish values to addressing social inequities while also supporting Israel.
Essentially, the RJC has put a wedge between itself and other Jewish groups it considers liberal. In 2019, Adelson sued the liberal, pro-Israel group, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and effectively put it out of business in a legal dispute. Adelson also belittled President Obama in 2012 when he called him “a crybaby.”
As a very wealthy, self-made intelligent man and a force of personality, Adelson was unquestionably one of the most generous donors to Jewish and Israeli social, medical, educational, and humanitarian causes in history. He was the main organizer and funder of Birthright Israel, which has sent thousands of high school and college students to Israel for an educational and cultural experience.
His conservative pro-Israel nationalist policies also coincided with the rise of Trump. The two had little in common, except Trump probably admired him as a successful casino operator (Trump was not), who was much wealthier.
But Trump’s advisors saw that the RJC and Adelson focused on Israel, which played well with the Evangelicals and Christian nationalists. In Trump, Adelson saw a man he could do business with (aka bribe) with huge donations in exchange for pushing pro-Israel policies. And to Adelson’s and the RJC’s credit, this worked.
But as we all saw, Trump was an empty, unethical political vessel. His mental instability meant carnival fringe elements of the Republican Party now had access to the Oval Office. The RJC’s open checkbook should have noticed they were funding increasingly right-wing bottom feeders or Trump idolaters. Still, the egos or weak oversight by the RJC now meant their money was building the extreme right-wing infrastructure we see today.
Trump is now gone, and so is Sheldon Adelson, but the mess they created will take years to clean up.
The RJC in Post-Adelson World
In the interim, most liberal American Jews who are Democrats, and especially the leaders of national Jewish organizations, will have to acknowledge the damage caused in this dark period.
It’s unconscionable that the nation’s largest Jewish organizations are continually fundraising for money to fight anti-Semitism when the RJC is funding to some degree. Many of these same groups are encouraged to conduct anti-Semitic attacks and advocate for Christian nationalist messages.
The RJC should recognize that as a group that promotes a hard-core nationalist link with Israel, it has something perversely in common with the Christian nationalists in Trump’s orbit. However, history has demonstrably shown this is a situation that does not end well with Jews.
However, confronting the RJC is organizationally and politically sensitive since most RJC members are also significant contributors to national Jewish groups. As a result, these top execs don’t want to offend substantial donors. Money, after all, is money, regardless of its source.
Still, the RJC must be held accountable for allowing Trump to become president. Worse, it must take responsibility for its costly and failed attempt to push the sociopath Trump into a second term, even as it became clear he had a right-wing plan that was not hospitable to average Americans.