My Unified Theory of Trump's Anti-Semitism

It's not what you think

How can a man who has Jewish family, friends, and business associates, and who proudly proclaims his support for Israel, nonetheless regularly say anti-Semitic things? I’ve been asked variants of this question about Donald Trump for years, but finally put my answer into writing in today’s Washington Post:

Is Trump a philo-Semite or an anti-Semite? The answer is both. The principle that explains his seemingly contradictory outlook toward Jews is simple: Trump believes all the anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews. But he sees those traits as admirable.

To Trump, the belief that Jews are foreign interlopers who use their wealth to serve their own clannish interests is not a negative — as it is for traditional anti-Semites — but rather a positive. He wants Jews to be his attorneys and manage his money, so that he, too, can be rich. He wants them in his political corner, so that he, too, can be powerful. He wants to buy politicians, just like they do. As a man who has always stood solely for his own naked self-interest, Trump does not see the anti-Semitic conception of the self-interested Jew as a complaint, but rather a compliment. He prioritizes his needs ahead of the national interest, and so he sees the idea that Jews might do the same with themselves or with Israel as entirely natural. He is the human embodiment of the Onion article “Affable anti-Semite Thinks The Jews Are Doing Super Job With The Media.”

Read the whole thing (and keep an eye out for the reference to the amazing philo-Semitic anti-Semitic Talmud Hotel in Taiwan, especially if you’re an editor who wants to expense a trip there for me for “research purposes.”)


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