WASHINGTON (JTA) — Donald Trump announced his third presidential campaign on Tuesday night, kicking off the 2024 presidential primary preseason and setting up a showdown over the future of the Republican Party.
American Jews likely need no reminders about Trump: After all, he was president less than two years ago, and he didn’t exactly disappear after leaving office after voters replaced him with President Joe Biden after one term. In fact, his unusually early declaration appears aimed at curbing multiple investigations into his efforts to stay in power after being voted out in 2020, including into his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters who wanted to stop the transfer of power and into meddling with state election results.
Still, Trump’s complicated relationship with American Jews — some love him, but more reject him and he is baffled as to why — is worth recapping as he tries to stage a comeback. Here’s a reminder of the big themes of Trump’s first term, the tumultuous years since and what might lie ahead as he runs again.
Trump initially had little Jewish backing, even among Republicans.
In 2015, at Trump’s first major Jewish event as a presidential candidate, he told people attending a Republican Jewish Coalition forum that they bought politicians, and he was not about to be bought.
“You’re not going to support me even though you know I’m the best thing that could ever happen to Israel,” Trump said at the time. “And I’ll be that. And I know why you’re not going to support me. You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. Isn’t it crazy?”
If that wasn’t enough, Trump went on in early 2016 to refuse to disavow the support of David Duke, the onetime Ku Klux Klan leader, and then finally did so half-heartedly.
That was too much for Norm Coleman, a Jewish Republican who once was a U.S. senator from Minnesota and who chaired the RJC. In a hometown newspaper op-ed, Coleman called Trump “a bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully” and added for good measure: “Any man who declines to renounce the affections of the KKK and David Duke should not be trusted to lead America. Ever.”
Now, Jewish Republicans see him as one of the most pro-Israel presidents ever.
Three years after Trump’s first appearance at an RJC event, he was back again as president and repeating familiar tropes about Jews and money — and Coleman was singing a different tune this time, literally. He chanted “dayenu” counting all the promises Trump had kept: moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, pulling out of the Iran deal, cutting assistance to the Palestinians and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“There were some doubters in this room, and I was foolishly among them,” Coleman said.
Trump’s Israel track record appears to have convinced many among the small portion of American Jews who make Israel a top issue at the voting booth. This week, the Zionist Organization of America gave Trump an award for his Israel achievements that only seven others have been given in history.
“If your worldview is such that these things are unbelievable accomplishments and things that you’ve waited your whole life to see happen, this president is a dream come true,” Richard Goldberg, a former Trump administration official, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2020.
That doesn’t mean Republican Jews necessarily want Trump to be president again.
Like many in their party, Jewish Republicans are looking for a presidential candidate not just to love but who can win. Last week’s midterm election results, in which many of the politicians backed by Trump fell short, have them thinking hard about whether Trump is that candidate.
Trump, so far the only declared candidate in 2024. won’t be appearing at this week’s gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition, but several other likely contenders for the Republican nomination will be, including Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence; Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who got a warm reception at a different gathering of Jewish conservatives in New York earlier this year.
The RJC says Trump was invited and demurred, citing a “conflict.” Last year, he sent a video message.
The RJC has not openly criticized Trump, but its donors have shown signs of fatigue at his drama. At last year’s gathering, Trump acolytes who remain close to him chided Jewish donors who once reveled in all he did for Israel but who now were distancing themselves from him.
“I don’t think that we should shy away from laying down the facts that Donald Trump’s pro-Israel presidency was sandwiched between Barack Obama’s and Joe Biden’s,” said Kellyanne Conway, a top White House adviser who is on the team advising him about his next run.
Miriam Adelson, who with her late husband Sheldon, has been a major funder of Republican Jewish causes, has pledged to stay neutral in the 2024 presidential primary.
Liberal Jews — and President Joe Biden — believe Trump emboldened antisemitism.
Political liberals have a long list of reasons to oppose Trump’s candidacy; the vast majority of American Jews are among them.
But when it comes to the particular issue of Jewish security, Jews have special concerns. Polls show that American Jews are more concerned about right-wing antisemitism than left-wing antisemitism, and Trump’s single term in office included three of the most shocking incidents of antisemitism in U.S. history, all perpetrated by right-wing extremists.
In 2018, a gunman who killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue complex in Pittsburgh was spurred in part by notions of an “invasion” of migrants, a conspiracy theory Trump himself had peddled. Pittsburgh’s Jews identified Trump with the attack and many joined protesters who turned their backs on him when he visited the synagogue.
The next year, a white supremacist attacked a California synagogue, killing one.
Both incidents followed a deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that quickly became synonymous with the rise of far-right hate groups in the United States. Trump equivocated endlessly about condemning the marchers, and his both-sidesing an event in which the only victims were counterprotesters and in which the perpetrators were neo-Nazis reportedly earned rebukes from Jewish members of his Cabinet and his Jewish daughter, Ivanka. It also became a theme of Biden’s presidential campaign, starting from his announcement and extending to his final appeal to voters.
Among the Jan. 6 rioters, one man wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt; the judge who sentenced him to prison said he was wearing a Nazi SS shirt underneath. The sweatshirt became a symbol of ties to white supremacist movements by the rioters, all supporters of Trump.
He really doesn’t understand why American Jews don’t support him.
Trump looks at polls closely, and one result continues to irk him: his poor showing among American Jewish voters. He keeps saying, most recently this week at the ZOA gala, that American Jews aren’t sufficiently loyal to Israel, otherwise they would not overwhelmingly back Democrats (and oppose Trump).
“No president has done more for Israel than I have,” he said on Truth Social, the social media platform he owns, last month. “Somewhat surprisingly, however, our wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S.”
While his Jewish backers tend to agree, others say Trump is insinuating that Jews hold dual loyalty, an antisemitic trope that has been used to justify hate against Jews in other times and places. Those critics include the Anti-Defamation League, the nonpartisan watchdog group.
“Let me be clear: insinuating that Israel or the Jews control Congress or the media is antisemitic, plain and simple,” ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said in late 2021, after one (but not the most recent) set of Trump’s comments. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time he has made these offensive remarks.”
He has Jewish friends and family — many of whom have worked for him.
Two of Trump’s top advisors were his Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who brokered the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and four Arab countries.They brought to the White House a proud and open sensibility about Jewish practice, although things did not always go swimmingly between the couple and their D.C.-area Jewish community.
The couple remain personally close to Trump, but have distanced themselves from his politics. Kushner took a leading role in both presidential campaigns and Trump blames him in part for losing 2020. For their part, Kushner and Ivanka Trump have notably not endorsed the elder Trump’s falsehoods about winning that election. They now live in Florida, where their governor, DeSantis, decisively won reelection last week and quickly vaulted into frontrunner status for 2024.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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