Donald Trump's Rosh Hashanah message to 'liberal Jews' reignites antisemitism debate

 Donald Trump yarmulke.
Donald Trump yarmulke.

This past weekend, millions of people around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year that marks the beginning of the High Holidays — Judaism's most significant spiritual season. For many, it is a time of solemn reflection on the past year, and an opportunity to commit to improvement in the year to come. For former President Donald Trump, however, this weekend's observance was the perfect opportunity to admonish "liberal Jews" for not supporting him.

"Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed in false narratives!,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform Sunday evening. “Let’s hope you learned from your mistake & make better choices moving forward!" he encouraged, before listing a series of accomplishments "for the Jewish people or Israel."

Donald Trump message on Truth Social
Donald Trump message on Truth Social

(Image credit: Truth Social / Screenshot)

While no stranger to courting controversy within and in regards to the Jewish community, Trump's latest comments — and the High Holiday framing thereof — have prompted a particularly intense debate over the former president's attitudes toward Jewish people in both the United States and Israel. While some commentators have accused the former president of overt antisemitism, his defenders counter that allegations of bigotry are simply part of an "anti-Trump" playbook designed to obfuscate and erase his track record of legitimate accomplishments.

'This has to be seen as a threat'

Calling it "scary stuff," MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan decried Trump's message as a sign that we have "normalized a very old school, very familiar type of antisemitic fascism in this country." Even in light of Trump's previous comments that have been construed as antisemitic in the past, "this is pretty disgusting," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "It's for real," agreed Hasan's MSNBC colleague and former US Attorney Joyce Vance. Jewish Council for Public Affairs CEO Amy Spitalnick also described the message as "antisemitic."

"There's never been a scarier time to be a Jew in America," Brett Meiselas, co-founder of the liberal-leaning Midas Touch media network said, calling the Truth Social post "truly horrifying, Nazi shit."

Trump's message should be seen as "a threat to the majority of American Jews who oppose him and would never vote for him," agreed University of Chicago doctoral candidate and prolific Jewish political columnist Joel Swanson wrote on X, accusing Trump of telling the American Jewish community to "get onboard with MAGA politics, or else the right-wing populist movement will be turned against you." This is an "ominous warning to American Jews," Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported, accusing Trump of "retreading well-worn territory of dual loyalty tropes."

The former president has used his "unprecedented support for Israel as a deflection against accusations of antisemitism," according to The Forward. At the same time, he does so "while invoking dual loyalty tropes and deeming Jews who vote for Democrats as 'very disloyal' to Israel."

Trump's "casual anti-semitism" notwithstanding, the former president's belief that "liberal Jews" care about many of the accomplishments listed in his post is "utterly absurd" in and of itself, Columbia University journalism professor Bill Grueskin said, highlighting several examples of Trump-era policies that were particularly popular among conservatives.

'The tactic precedes Trump'

Defending Trump, conservative commentator Bryan Leib accused the media of "spinning an insane narrative right now," on X, pointing out that the flyer shared by Trump on Truth Social was an iteration of one originally posted by the right-wing "JEXIT" group.

Not only is Trump "the greatest president in the history of America" JEXIT spokesperson Siggy Flicker told One America News, but "there has been no other president who has done so much for the Jewish people."

The "liberal media" has released a "series of coordinated articles," Today News Africa Chief White House Correspondent Simon Ateba alleged on X. But, he continued, the flyer shared by the former president "provides an explanation of everything Trump has done for the Jewish community."

Intra-Jewish allegations that supporting Trump is tantamount to being an accessory to antisemitism has been a "pattern among anti-Trump Jews," Breitbart Senior Editor Joel Pollak wrote. "The tactic precedes Trump,' he added, claiming comedian Sarah Silverman's 2008 push to have young Jewish voters encourage their elderly relatives to vote for Barack Obama was itself a suggestion "that older Jews were racist and would not vote for Obama unless told to do so."