In a recent interview, Trump strung together so many antisemitic tropes so quickly it was almost impressive.
Let’s forget, for a moment, the unsubstantiated rumors — that he slept with a collection of Hitler’s speeches beside his bed; that he allegedly told an associate “the only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day”; that he reportedly insisted “Hitler did a lot of good things” to his then Chief-of-Staff John Kelly during a 2018 trip to Europe. Instead, let’s focus only on the overt, public instances of antisemitism former President Donald Trump has demonstrated, such as invoking the trope of perfidious dual loyalty among American Jews, or that they secretly control the government, or just the time he refused to unconditionally condemn the gaggle of neo-Nazis who marched down the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
Taken in aggregate, it’s undeniable that the former president of the United States harbors a deep, unapologetic streak of antisemitism that seems to draw from a number of longstanding tropes which — even if he insists he bears no ill-will toward Jewish people themselves — are fundamentally predicated on the same centuries-old Jew-hating myths that have spawned countless acts of violence and bigotry. And yet! Even with that in mind, it’s genuinely staggering to hear Trump string together so much unadulterated antisemitism into a single 44-second soundbite. I mean, truly, just in terms of sheer volume of antisemitism, it’s an impressive feat.
Here’s the just-released segment of a recent conversation between Trump and Axios reporter Barak Ravid, shared Friday morning as part of journalists Yonit Levi and Jonathan Freedland’s interview with Ravid for their Unholy podcast.
Let’s run down the list, okay? Try and keep up:
The evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country.
Loyalty to Israel as a sine qua non for Judaism? Antisemitism.
It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress.
International Jewry controls the government from afar? Antisemitism.
The Jewish people in the U.S. either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel.
There’s that loyalty thing again.
They’re Jewish people that run The New York Times.
Jews control the media? Antisemitism. (It also happens to be false: The current generation of Sulzbergers running the Times were raised Episcopalian).
None of this is untrod territory for Trump, of course — he’s publicly voiced this semi-philosemitic antisemitism in various iterations for years. But cramming them together like this in a machine gun rat-tat-tat of stereotypes offered freely without hesitation or remorse is a sincerely impressive achievement.
“I think for Trump, being liberal is a much bigger sin than being Jewish, but what can he do? It’s the same folks!” Ravid mused to Levi and Freedland on their podcast, noting that the overwhelming majority of Jews in the United States vote for Democrats.
Ultimately, then, perhaps the most depressing aspect of this whole episode is that it’s unlikely Trump will face any real consequences for his enthusiastic antisemitism. Not only is it nothing we haven’t already heard from him, but the breezy casualness of his tone and demeanor during his conversation with Ravid also suggests a man whose comfort with this type of antisemitism has been reinforced and buttressed over decades, with minimal, if any, blowback. For Trump, it seems, this is just another day. For everyone else, it’s a terrifying glimpse into the mind of a man once entrusted — and perhaps to be entrusted yet again — with unspeakable power and influence. Oy.