“The problem with Trump is…that his rhetoric…has created an atmosphere that suggests that behavioral anti-Semitism…may have a new legitimacy”

The problem with Trump is not blatant anti-Semitism, or anti-Islamism; I’m not afraid that the Republican candidate will pass “Nuremberg Laws” or kick out Muslims. The problem is that his rhetoric, and that of many of his followers, has created an atmosphere that suggests that behavioral anti-Semitism—which not long ago was a serious no-no in American life (“I can think it; I can’t say it!”) — may have a new legitimacy. You can once again blame people of color, or immigrants, or Jews for the problems you (and “you” are middle-class whites) are facing. After all these years, it may be O.K. again to be racist.

What Trump is doing, then, is engaging in the cynical use of anti-Semitism and racism for the purpose of achieving political gains. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism—far worse than most forms of behavioral anti-Semitism, because what political anti-Semitism does is poison the political atmosphere, with the possibility of residual effects far beyond the instant political manifestation.

There are good reasons why many in the extremist (and perhaps not-so-extremist) anti-Semitism camp are supporting Trump. He is a public figure — running for president, no less — who is giving anti-Semites and racists license to express their views. To be sure, expression of views is entirely legitimate; it’s constitutionally protected. But here is a case in which a public figure tolerates, indeed enables, such expression. Why? Because he needs their votes.

Jerome A. Chanes, “Why Donald Trump Is Worse Than An Anti-Semite”, The Jewish Week (28 October 2016), 22.