Several months ago, after his election victory, I asked for any proof that Donald Trump is – as some of his most mainstream critics were claiming – a vile homophobe. I thought it a perfectly reasonable question to ask, and the only evidence I was given in reply was one gay man in America who cried after the election. This did not satisfy my standards of evidence. But a related question now also needs asking. Where is the proof that Donald Trump is an anti-Semite?
I ask because in the last week there has been considerable, nay ecstatic, reporting of an accusation that the President of the USA is not only fuelling anti-Semitism but has installed anti-Semites at the heart of the American government and is himself a vile anti-Semite. This somewhat feverish-sounding claim has been reported in headlines around the world at venues including CNN, the Washington Post and at what remains of the Independent. Of course these sites – along with many others in the media – are all currently on the look-out for ‘fake news.’ To which an uncharitable person might say, ‘Physician heal thyself.’
All these stories rely on something calling itself the ‘Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’ and the bold allegations about institutional anti-Semitism at the White House have been made by the Center’s director, one Steven Goldstein. He has spent his career as a Democrat party activist, with an especial interest in gay rights and if you watch his debate at CNN here one could even get the impression that Goldstein is a partisan shill rather than a legitimate bearer of the legacy of Anne Frank. In fact, looking into it, it appears that the ‘Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’ was something of a shell organisation until Mr Goldstein and his colleague David Smith (who, like Goldstein, previously ran a gay rights group in New Jersey called ‘Garden State Equality’) took it over and decided to stand on a dead Jewish girl, the better to be able to holler over the crowd and attack a president they have their own reasons to dislike.
Thus a speech by President Trump on hate crime was dismissed by the ‘Anne Frank Center for Respect Towards People Who Agree With Us’ as ‘pathetic’. According to Goldstein the Republican president ‘quacks, walks and talks like an anti-Semite. That makes him an anti-Semite.’ An odd way to speak. Not least because to the extent that Donald Trump ‘quacks, walks and talks’ about these areas at all I would say that it is fairly obvious that he speaks like a philo-Semite. Few anti-Semites would be happy with their daughter converting to Judaism and marrying an Orthodox Jew. Fewer still would not merely remain clearly very warm towards said daughter and son-in-law but ensure that they were among his closest advisors. Even fewer would have the pro-Israeli views of President Trump. Joseph Goebbels, for instance, was a well-known anti-Semite from history whose record the ‘Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’ really should look into. If they did so they might recognise that it is hard to imagine the late Nazi being happy in a comparable scenario.
Reflection, however, would not appear to be Goldstein’s shtick. Instead he has continued to tour the studios using a murdered Jewish girl to whom he has no connection as his calling card. For instance Goldstein told MSNBC that Donald Trump’s latest condemnations of anti-Semitism display nothing but ‘his complete tin ear to the perception, that is accurate, that he is anti-Semitic’. One condemnation of anti-Semitism by the President was further dismissed by Goldstein as ‘a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism’.
I like that little stumble around ‘omissions’ as if even Goldstein wondered whether he wasn’t perhaps pushing things a little far. But watch Goldstein’s interview on CNN here and wonder whether we are really looking at someone devoted to remembering the life of a Jewish girl from Amsterdam killed seventy years ago alongside most of her family, or whether we are dealing with somebody who just wanted Hillary Clinton to replace Barack Obama as President of the United States. And then join me in wondering what manner of man this is who would use the memory of the former to pursue a political campaign on behalf of the latter.