By DMITRIY SHAPIRO
Jewish organizations and supporters of former President Donald Trump are expressing outrage about a recent dinner he shared with two anti-Semites.
The dinner happened on Nov. 22 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. at the request of disgraced rapper Kanye “Ye” West, who has come under fire for openly anti-Semitic statements on social media and conspiratorial anti-Semitic views in multiple interviews. More outrageous than even the meeting with West was that West brought along 24-year-old white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who is known for statements denying the Holocaust, hating Jews and leading white nationalist movements.
Conflicting accounts of the dinner appeared from Trump, Ye and Fuentes, with Ye claiming that Trump was very impressed by Fuentes, while Trump said in a statement that he did not know who Fuentes was during their dinner, but stopped short of condemning him.
Another controversial figure who joined the dinner, and who is believed to have invited Fuentes, was alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) denounced the former president and called out Fuentes’s past statements, which have included questioning the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust and saying, “I piss on your Talmud. Jews get the f***k out of America.”
“It is unacceptable that a former president of the United States who has announced his candidacy for a second term would meet with anti-Semites and an avowed white nationalist,” SWC associate dean and director of Global Social Action Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a recent statement. “The result of this meeting is the mainstreaming of bigotry at a time of surging anti-Semitism in the United States. The SWC urges President Trump to disavow Nick Fuentes and his anti-Semitic bigotry.”
The Orthodox Union (OU) pointed out that West’s comments—such as tweeting to his 31 million Twitter followers he was going to go “death con 3” on Jews—have already resulted in anti-Semitic incidents in Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Fla. where the message “Kanye is right about the Jews” has been displayed. The organization said that it was worrisome that Trump, who announced his bid for the presidency in the 2024 election just a week earlier, would associate with “some of the most vicious anti-Semitic figures.
“We call on former President Trump to condemn these individuals and cut ties with them and their associates. As a major public figure, Donald Trump has a responsibility to denounce hate in all of its forms and lead by example for his many followers. Anything less gives a stamp of approval to the world’s oldest hatred,” OU leadership said in a statement.
OU also called on political leaders, particularly in the Republican Party, to speak up, citing an unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism in the United States.
“Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted: “If anyone still had any doubts about Donald Trump’s embrace of bigotry and division, it’s certainly clarifying to see him spend time openly and unapologetically with notorious anti-Semites Nick Fuentes and Kanye West. Awful, appalling and yet entirely in character.”
The Trump administration’s former special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, tweeted: “No responsible American, and certainly no former President, should be cavorting with the likes of Nick Fuentes and Kanye West. To placate anti-Semitism is to promote anti-Semitism. President Trump must condemn these dangerous men and their disgusting and un-American views.”
Tit For Tat?
Some groups saw parallels between Trump’s meeting with West, Fuentes and Yiannopolous, and meetings between former president Barack Obama and other liberal politicians and left-wing anti-Semites such as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which in early November awarded Trump with the Theodor Herzl Medallion at its 125th anniversary gala for his pro-Israel accomplishments while in office, called on Trump to condemn West and Fuentes in strong terms.
“President Trump must not sully his extraordinary presidential record of pro-Israel actions and combating anti-Semitism on college campuses and elsewhere by failing to clearly condemn vile anti-Semites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes,” stated ZOA National President Mort Klein. “I, who was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany, lost almost my entire family who were murdered during Hitler’s Holocaust. My parents, both Holocaust survivors, Sarah of Poland and Rabbi Herman Klein of Czechoslovakia—who lost his first family to Hitler’s evil—would have demanded this statement of me and ZOA as history demands that all people of good faith denounce Jew-hatred.”
The ZOA also called on all former U.S. presidents, including Obama and Bill Clinton, to disavow Farrakhan, recalling Obama smiling next to Farrakhan in a photo from 2005 and Clinton’s photo with Farrakhan in 2018.
Klein also demanded that U.S. President Joe Biden condemn current sitting Democratic members of Congress whom it accuses of anti-Semitism, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
“Not only has President Biden not condemned these anti-Semites, but he actually praised Rashida Tlaib in May 2021,” Klein said.
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), which represents 2,000 Orthodox rabbis, also called for Trump to repudiate his dining companions.
“A former president does not enjoy the luxury of meeting over dinner with any oddball, especially when that fool is a self-declared hater,” CJV Vice President Rabbi Dov Fischer said in a statement. “It was wrong for former President Obama to affiliate with [his former longtime pastor] the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan. It is wrong for President Biden to praise Jew-hater Rashida Tlaib and fail to exert his leadership to rein in the Jew-hatred of Ilhan Omar. And it is wrong when President Trump breaks bread with such individuals.”
Friends Seem Appalled
Trump’s longtime friend and one of the Trump administration’s highest-ranked Orthodox Jewish officials, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, implored him to disavow West and Fuentes.
“To my friend Donald Trump, you are better than this. Even a social visit from an anti-Semite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable. I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong,” Friedman tweeted. “I condemned Obama associating with Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. This is no different. Anti-Semites deserve no quarter among American leaders, right or left.”
Another Trump friend and high-ranking Orthodox Jewish official, former White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, wrote an op-ed for CNN expounding on his views, writing from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“I remain grateful for all that President Trump has done to change the face of the Middle East in so many ways. That’s why I can’t simply tweet my reaction to the West-Fuentes dinner at Mar-a-Lago,” wrote Jason Greenblatt.
Greenblatt wrote that he has known Trump for a quarter of a century and has seen him speak strongly against anti-Semitism over the years, despite those statements not being reported. He also has seen Trump be “an incredible friend to Israel…establishing history-altering policies that tremendously benefited Israel and some of its Arab neighbors.
“The question I am addressing is what I thought of President Trump having dinner with haters such as Fuentes and West. I think it’s a straightforward answer—it should not have happened. Period,” Greenblatt wrote. “I hope President Trump condemns Fuentes, West and their ilk for what they are—haters of Jews and haters of the foundations of the United States of America. People like Fuentes are dangerous to the United States. The President Trump that I know would recognize that and issue this condemnation.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) avoided being specific in its condemnation of the dinner, naming West and Fuentes in a statement, but without mentioning Trump. “We strongly condemn the virulent anti-Semitism of Kanye West and Nick Fuentes and call on all political leaders to reject their messages of hate and refuse to meet with them,” RJC said.
After receiving pushback on social media for not mentioning Trump, executive director Matt Brooks tweeted to defend it.
“This needs to be said given how dense and short-sighted people are on Twitter. Let me dumb it down for y’all. We didn’t mention Trump in our statement even though it’s obviously in response to his meeting because we wanted it to be a warning to ALL Republicans. Duh!” Brooks tweeted.