Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce a tweet that critics call anti-Semitic is intensifying concerns among Republican donors—particularly those who are Jewish—about giving to his campaign.
The prospective contributors, including board members of the influential Republican Jewish Coalition, also have criticized Mr. Trump’s praise of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s lethal justice for adversaries.
“I’m waiting for him to come forward as a statesman, and so far he hasn’t done it,” said Walter Stern, a longtime RJC board member and vice chairman of a private-equity firm who hasn’t decided whether to give money to Mr. Trump.

The irony could not be greater. For the entirety of the Obama administration the RJC has denounced the National Democratic Jewish Council and DNC chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.) — who fancies herself a great friend of Israel — for carrying water for President Obama, refusing to speak out against the administration’s hostile stance toward the Jewish state and putting rank partisanship above concern for the American Jewish community and the U.S.-Israel relationship. Now the shoe is on the other foot as the RJC sticks with someone whose views are as noxious as they are ignorant.

RJC spokesman Mark McNulty insists, “It’s very easy to criticize the Democrats for their support of Obama.  You cannot compare the substantive record of the main architect of: the nuclear capitulation to Iran, the drastic deterioration of the US Israel relationship and the continued Middle East turmoil.” He did not explain however how the RJC sees fit to back Trump, who has his own litany of defects.

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In addition to praise for Hussien, Trump suggested the U.S. should be “neutral” between Israel and the Palestinians. In addition:

Mr. Trump’s post on Twitter in early July featured a picture of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton against a backdrop of cash, with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” inside a six-pointed star. The campaign deleted the tweet after a backlash on social media against what looked to some like a Star of David juxtaposed against a pile of money, reinforcing a common anti-Semitic attack.
Mr. Trump and his allies have rejected the criticism and said the six-pointed star was the shape commonly used for law-enforcement badges.

Furthermore, at the RJC annual gathering last December, Trump prompted murmurs and scattered boos when he dabbled in anti-Semitic stereotypes suggesting the Jews in the audience were all good negotiators and wouldn’t support him since he was not at the time asking for their money.

Trump’s xenophobic language, cult of personality and authoritarian rhetoric rubs many Americans, especially those who historically have been the victims of fascistic leaders using minorities, as scapegoats. Moreover, Trump’s “alt-right” and white nationalist legions on social media regularly target Jewish journalists, although the Trump campaign insists it rejects their anti-Semitic vitriol. Nevertheless the prominence of so many virulently anti-Semitic followers in the Trump movement leaves many American Jews wondering: What do they know that we don’t?

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The RJC tepidly endorsed Trump and officially refuses to budge from that position. (Major donor and RJC board member Sheldon Adelson, who reportedly gave over $20 million to Newt Gingrich in the 2012 race, promised at one point to give Trump $100 million.) Nevertheless, RJC members are generally refusing to give Trump money. Many Jewish Republicans in and outside of the group are privately expressing disgust for the RJC’s continued attachment to Trump, and fear it will permanently taint the group. Weekly Standard editor and prominent anti-Trump voice Bill Kristol tells me, “As [Weekly Standard writer] Jonathan Last argued months ago, Trumpism corrupts. The corruption starts off small, then grows, and eventually overcomes all guardrails and scruples.”

Prominent Republican and foreign policy guru Dan Senor last week tweeted:

A # of leading Jewish Republicans have recently signed on for large fundraising roles w/Trump’s campaign &/or RNC’s Trump Victory Cmte. . . . During each controversy they hide, which is depressing enough. But that they remain silent after this latest incident [regarding the Star of David] is inexplicable.

He then tweeted:

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NOTE TO TRUMP & RNC JEWISH DONORS: tell DJT that Saddam paid death benefits to families of Palestinian suicide bombers slaughtering Israelis.

A week before the convention there is still time for the RJC to rethink its position, if only out of self-interest. McNulty argues that the RJC is a “large organization with over 40,000 members all of which have their own views and beliefs on certain topics.  Our organizing principles are the Republican platform of a strong US-Israel relationship and a robust foreign policy of peace through strength.” He nevertheless concedes, “It’s no secret that we have some who are strongly supportive of Trump and those who aren’t.” He adds, “What we are all united in is advancing the Republican cause and ensuring that we continue to foster a great relationship with Israel abroad and maintain the majorities in the House and Senate.’ The question remains whether the “Republican cause” is not inextricably tied to a figure who most American Jews view with disdain.

American Jews traditionally vote Democratic by large margins in presidential elections. However, the RJC has boasted that its efforts helped at least increase Jewish support for Republican candidates, although no GOP presidential candidate has reached the high-water mark of 40 percent support among Jewish Americans since Ronald Reagan. Trump is likely to set back considerably the GOP’s effort to woo American Jews. It would not be surprising if Hillary Clinton gets 90 percent of the Jewish vote. The question however is whether in its vain attempt to rally around the nominee the RJC has done permanent damage to its own reputation and credibility. For many the answer will be an emphatic “yes.”

If it destroys its own reputation, the RJC will have plenty of company. Many conservatives after the election will scrutinize the GOP and a slew of conservative groups that abandoned principles to support Trump. They may decide these entities are permanently disgraced and no longer worth supporting. From our vantage point, it may well be time for the RNC, the RJC and all the rest of the “R” groups to close up shop — or substantially refashion themselves and find new leaders who never capitulated to Trump.

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