The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), as this site has pointed out many times before, was the most significant PAC contributor to Trump’s presidential campaign.
In the process, the RJC enabled and financed all of his activities, including those related to sponsoring and associating with anti-Semitic, QAnon, and white nationalist hate groups. This includes the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.
One of the cover stories the RJC used to rationalize their support of Trump was that they were vehemently pro-Israel. A cornerstone of this was that they opposed any deals with the Iranians and their efforts to develop an atomic weapon.
The RJC used this message to attract many non-wealthy Jewish supporters who were vehemently pro-Israel, but not in the top 1% of income earners. The RJC told followers that they would reverse many of the concessionary Arab and Iranian policies developed by Obama and his Democratic predecessors.
Now, it looks like one of their central pro-Israel positions—pulling out the Iran nuclear treaty negotiated by Obama—has failed miserably and made Iran stronger and complicated U.S. foreign policy in the region.
How the RJC Helped Implement Trump’s Foreign Policy
A new article by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times points out that Iran is stronger today than when Trump was in office. It now has the accelerated capability and fissionable materials to produce an atomic weapon in as short as three weeks.
In the article, “Trump’s Iran Policy Has Become a Disaster for the U.S. and Israel,” Friedman writes that when Trump tore up the 2018 Iran nuclear deal, it “was one of the dumbest, most poorly thought out and counterproductive U.S. national security decisions of the post-Cold War era.”
Iran’s nuclear foreign policy is complicated and has many moving parts. Still, Friedman’s view is shared by at least two Israelis, Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli defense minister when the deal was signed, and Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s top military commander.
Friedman lays out why the agreement gave Iran more power to develop an atomic weapon in the article. However, as this site has noted, the RJC, through its vehement, blind support to villainize the Iranians at all costs, became a major rallying cry for the RJC and some of their allies in AIPAC.
The RJC and its main contributors were the late-Sheldon Adelson (net worth estimated at $41 billion). Adelson was a complicated and generous donor to Jewish and Israeli causes, but a die-hearted supporter of the ex-Israeli premier Netanyahu and his conservative government.
In February 2020, it was reported in The Guardian newspaper that Adelson was making a $200 million contribution to Trump and the Republican Party. Based on Friedman’s reporting, that whole anti-Iranian nuclear position was misguided and enabled Iran to emerge stronger than before when the RJC and the Trump administration were trying to do the opposite.
Adelson Was the Financial Engine Behind Trump’s Hate Machine
In the 2020 election, the Adelson’s set a new record for political gifts from individuals, flooding the Trump campaign, related accounts, and many lesser Republican campaigns with a total of $172.7m, according to the campaign finance site Open Secrets.
The Adelsons were the top donors in every major election cycle going back a decade except for 2016, and their lifetime political giving amounted to about half a billion dollars, Open Secrets and The Guardian said.
“Billionaire Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have pumped $500,000 into a defense fund set up to help Donald Trump’s aides cover their legal costs associated with Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” according to The Guardian.
On the plus side, Trump did move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in a largely symbolic move. He also helped negotiate the Abraham Accords that activated diplomatic and trade relations with Israel and the United Arab Emirates in September 2021.
However, the Iran nuclear situation was more important than either of these since it involved ballistic atomic weapons that are a mere 1,300 miles from Israel.
So, what are the lessons here?
The near hysteria of the JRC and its anti-Iran policy shows that ultra-wealthy, partisan Republicans should not try to dictate U.S. foreign policy.
- Wealthy people are not better informed than professional diplomats about complex foreign policy issues.
- The RJC and its friends in AIPAC made a big P.R. mistake when they allowed pro-Trump demonstrations during their annual AIPAC meeting in 2019. To be effective. AIPAC must be a bi-partisan lobbying group, not a forum for Trump’s right-wing, anti-Semitic, nationalist messages.
- The RJC’s cover story about being pro-Israel just masked their primary goal of paying less in taxes and pushing for more personal and corporate tax and estate planning loopholes.
- In terms of the destruction caused by Trump’s domestic right-wing and anti-Semitic policies, major Jewish national groups should make the following demands: Tell the RJC to provide millions in educational funds to undo the anti-Semitic messages promulgated by Trump and his white nationalist buddies. The reason: During the Trump presidency, anti-Semitic attacks increased significantly.
- During the Trump administration (2016-2020), and at a time when RJC contributions were flowing at a record pace to Trump, the U.S. recorded 2,100 anti-Semitic attacks in 2019, which was the highest level of antisemitic incidents since the ADL started tracking them in 1979, according to the ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).
- National Jewish groups (such as the B’nai Brith, ADL, AJC) should essentially ask the RJC for reparations to compensate for the rise in anti-Semitic physical attacks during the Trump administration. This rise in anti-Semitic attacks rose in direct proportion to the amounts of donations given to Trump.
Hold Rich People Accountable for Their Mistakes
The other lesson here is that wealthy people are not necessarily more intelligent than the rest. Yes, wealthy people make dumb mistakes when trying to promote their own selfish interests.
Wealthy people are also better when protecting and advancing their own financial, tax avoidance schemes, and political interests than average citizens. That’s what happens in a plutocracy.
And when it comes to promoting their foreign affairs policies, their input is no better than anyone else.