Trump’s Talk and Anti-Semitic Acts

President Trump’s loose talk demonizing some minorities clearly won him support among some disaffected whites but it may have unleashed the bigotry playing out in a number of anti-Semitic acts, says Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

My local newspaper is the Philadelphia Inquirer, and when I looked at the front page (the part “above the fold”) for Feb. 28, it read: “A Rash of Anti-Semitism  – ‘Something Bad is Happening in Our Country.’” The attending article went on to report on several instances of Jewish cemetery desecrations and 21 bomb threats made on Feb. 27 to synagogues and Jewish community centers. Nationwide, there have been 90 such threats in 30 states and Canada in 2017.

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at joint press conference on Feb. 15. 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

The quote that “something bad is happening” came from one of the neighbors who had come to offer help at a local desecrated cemetery. He is quite right. Yet the Inquirer article and others were only descriptive while quoting the predictable reactions of various politicians and community leaders. The coverage did not go into why we are getting this spate of incidents now, nor did it contextualize the incidents more broadly by noting that they were taking place within a country that, on average, suffers 44 homicides per day.

The FBI and local police departments are all out there investigating these anti-Semitic incidents. I would be very surprised if, as a result of their search for the culprits, they found them among the American Muslim community which has strongly condemned these incidents, or Palestinians and their supporters here in the U.S., who typically use non-violent tactics to express their resistance to Israeli/Zionist racism, or the broader immigrant community, which is typically law-abiding and, in any case, is now being harassed by those charged with “making America great again.” No, if you knee-jerk in those directions, you are probably mistaken.

Likely Offenders

So where should we look for the likely offenders of this latest outbreak of anti-Semitism? Well, there are a couple of possibilities. One is the disturbed individual who, for whatever motive, vents his anger in this fashion. This probably accounts for the St. Louis man recently arrested for making a relatively small number of these threats against Jewish sites. The other possibility is that these actions are expressions of the newly ascendant sense of power of white supremacists.

President Donald Trump delivering his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Many of these threatening calls turn out to be “unprecedented” in that they used “sophisticated voice masking technology.” They also warned of bombs made with specific types of explosives. Now, white supremacist organizations with military and security professionals among their members would, plausibly, have the technology and weapons experience used in these incidents. Of course, that does not prove they are responsible, but it does put them on what must be a rather short list of possibles.

In this regard, President Trump’s response to this affair is a curious one. In a recent press conference, he vehemently declared that “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. [And also] the least racist person.” Then, later, he suggested that recent anti-Semitic acts were “false flag” operations coming from his “political opponents.” In other words, Trump, and his close advisers too, are suggesting that the culprits are “Democrats” who are trying to make the President and his supporters “look bad.”

Liberating Bad Actors

I don’t think that Donald Trump is playing games here. I think that he believes everything he says – convincing himself that his “false flag” theory is the truth even as he says it. It is part of a delusional pathology.

This means that he is incapable of understanding that, in the final analysis, he may well have triggered the present anti-Semitic acts. It is his threatening and demeaning rhetoric during the campaign and subsequently that has given license to potentially violent elements within American society.

Here is how law professor David Cohen, quoting an earlier source, explains what Trump is doing: he is using language “to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.” The technical term for this behavior is “stochastic terrorism.” Stochastic refers to generating statistical probabilities.

One of the possible consequences of this sort of rhetoric is explained by Tara Culp-Ressler, senior editor of ThinkProgress: “In this scenario, a lone wolf terrorist wouldn’t be explicitly instructed to commit their crimes, but they would be encouraged by rhetoric that appears to normalize that type of activity.”

It is unlikely that Donald Trump realizes what he is doing in these terms. He probably stereotypes his own behavior as necessary and correct just as he stereotypes the behavior of those who disagree or oppose him as wrongheaded and personal (rather than principled). Most likely, he behaves as he does in an almost instinctual way. He is a born-and-bred bully.

Finally, if we are to probably contextualize the consequences of President Trump’s rhetoric, we must also note that it not only plays to “lone wolves” and white supremacists, but also resonates with longstanding themes of conservative Republicans and American Christian Fundamentalists. Both of these large groups espouse a white mono-culture wherein Jews, among many others, are outsiders. Trump, for all his anti-racist protestations, seems to draw these people to him and comfortably walk the same road as they do.

In the first chapter of Plato’s masterpiece The Republic, there appears a character named Thrasymachus. Socrates engages this character in a debate about the nature of justice. Thrasymachus argues that justice is ultimately whatever the stronger party says it is, and he tries to bully Socrates into agreeing with him. He is uninterested in Socrates’ opinion or the logic of his argument while intent on dominating the conversation. When Thrasymachus is unable to get his way he becomes sullen and rude.

Plato’s effort to construct an ideal state, governed by so-called “philosopher kings” – that is, people who, in Plato’s opinion, have the ability to accurately understand the world – can be understood as a reaction to a world that has become governed by the likes of Thrasymachus.

Donald Trump provides us with this same sort of challenge for he is our modern-day Thrasymachus: a self-centered bully uninterested in any other point of view but his own. In our case, such a man has indeed attained power and in doing so has also liberated the boorish element of the population who mimic his approach to the world. Thus it is you, Mr. President, who may well have set loose the anti-Semites.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. He blogs at www.tothepointanalyses.com.

17 comments for “Trump’s Talk and Anti-Semitic Acts

  1. Andy Jones
    March 8, 2017 at 18:46

    Does the moron who wrote this drivel realize that Trump’s daughter and grandchildren are Jewish?

  2. March 8, 2017 at 18:13

    What a stinking pile of recycled, rotting clichés and appalling non sequiturs. Perhaps the most glaring among them is the ridiculous assertion that “White supremacists” with “military training” are somehow more likely to know about various kinds of explosives than anyone else. Utter nonsense in the age of Google, where anyone can learn more terms for such stuff than a DuPont weapons salesman in fifteen minutes. Who really believes that immigrants of most any stripe, or anyone poor enough to have to enlist in the military, and Mossad agents wouldn’t be able to brandish such terms? In fact, if such terms are being repeatedly used in these calls, I’d suspect an organized effort to make us believe that there is a threat — rather than an actual upsurge of dislike of Jews.

    The use of the scare term “White supremacists” is also egregiously inappropriate considering that 1) most people to whom the label is applied would be better described as “White survivalists” and have no desire to rule “supreme” over anyone — they just want a return to kinship-based societies; and 2) there is absolutely zero evidence of any White advocates being involved in this suspicious telephone campaign.

  3. Greg
    March 7, 2017 at 21:08

    I could be wrong but it’s not likely a coincidence that these waves of anti-semitic behavior came before Trump’s address to the Congress, which makes it more difficult for him to criticize Israel actions against the Palestinians.

  4. Realist
    March 7, 2017 at 03:05

    Glad to see this website is back on-line. It was blocked as a security risk for several hours. Supposed lack of a valid security certificate. Real problem? Or hackers? (And I don’t mean the Russians.)

  5. Josh Stern
    March 6, 2017 at 19:18

    Bigotries and violent acts are two different classes of problem and should be treated as such. If someone runs a club that excludes some ethnicities then they are bigoted and should be criticized as such. But they shouldn’t be charged with inciting violence on that basis.

    Moving on to conspiracies…I happen to believe that a large number of the most serious conspiracy claims leveled against the CIA and the FBI are essentially true. I don’t believe that based on wild evidence. I believe that based on piles, and piles of serious, good, strong evidence. These are serious claims and a serious, major problem with modern American Society. Some groups of people who pay attention to these claims are more careful and serious about the evidence than others. In the course of various parts of that, one comes across the theory that Mossad may have partnered with the CIA in various spy games and false because they were judged to be beneficial to Israeli security. Independently of that, historically, and at present, there are many influential American Jews who publicly say that supporting Israel is either their most important policy issue or one of them. If other people want to criticize them for that, they should be careful not to make that an ethnic criticism or to extend it to an entire ethnic group, and they should be careful to distinguish between that policy position and support for any kind of covert crime. On the other hand, people concerned about the existence and large impact of covert crime, should be free to discuss theories of that without being labeled as bigots on that basis.

    All of these groups should be more careful to make proper distinctions.

  6. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    March 6, 2017 at 18:58

    Ever asked yourself why people use the stupid expression “antisemitism” instead of the accurate one “Antijewishness”?! The reason is very simple:

    – Those who KNOW are using it because it is a weaponized term that instills fear in the hearts of Westerners.

    – Those who do NOT KNOW are using it because they are simply dumb idiots who parrot what they hear without any thinking……

    Real antisemitism is what the Antisemitic Apartheid Jewish State is doing to the Palestinians………

  7. Cal
    March 6, 2017 at 18:56

    I see Davidson doesnt mention that the police believe these calls originated from ‘ overseas.’

    Hummm…so who overseas would want to sir up anti semitsm fear? I think we know the answer to that.

    And 100 bomb threat calls is overdoing it a bit I’d say….a little too obvious

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/28/us/bomb-threats-jewish-centers-jcc/

    Law enforcement officials believe many of the threatening calls to Jewish community centers have originated overseas.

    Trump: Threats To JCCs Could Be Fake – Fast Forward – Forward.com
    forward.com/fast-forward/364477/trump-threats-to-jccs-could-be-fake/
    2 days ago
    .. According to a CNN report earlier Tuesday, investigators believe most of the calls threatening Jewish community centers came from overseas

    Here’s the nutcase:

    ”Law enforcement officials told ABC News Thompson appeared to take advantage of news coverage of the threats in order to exact revenge on a woman who had ended a romantic relationship.”
    https://twitter.com/juanmthompson?lang=en
    Juan M. Thompson? @JuanMThompson Feb 26
    More
    Wow. The #Oscars are fucking and toying and exploiting black ppl like America has done for centuries. White folk are trash
    Statement on the Arrest of Former Intercept Reporter Juan Thompson
    https://theintercept.com/…/statement-on-the-arrest-of-former-intercept-reporter-juan-t…
    29 mins ago – We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb

  8. Zachary Smith
    March 6, 2017 at 18:03

    Donald Trump provides us with this same sort of challenge for he is our modern-day Thrasymachus: a self-centered bully uninterested in any other point of view but his own. In our case, such a man has indeed attained power and in doing so has also liberated the boorish element of the population who mimic his approach to the world.

    I hadn’t even reached this part of the essay when I made my first post. Donald Trump truly is an undisciplined, obnoxious, wealthy, & ignorant individual. All this does not automatically make him an anti-semite. For heaven’s sake, the man has a Jewish son-in-law, a Jewish daughter, and two Jewish grandchildren.

    Regarding that slam about the “boorish element” of the population, what does Professor Davidson think of the Liberal Dip***** who have suddenly embraced the Police State, Open Borders, and War With Russia? They’re even started playing kissy-face with George “Codpiece Commander” Bush!

    Repeating myself from past posts here, but despite knowing many of Trump’s obvious warts, I continue to be relieved that Hillary Clinton is not settling in as Queen of the Universe.

  9. Zachary Smith
    March 6, 2017 at 17:49

    (my first attempt to post this failed completely, so on to the second try)

    I don’t think that Donald Trump is playing games here. I think that he believes everything he says – convincing himself that his “false flag” theory is the truth even as he says it. It is part of a delusional pathology.

    This means that he is incapable of understanding that, in the final analysis, he may well have triggered the present anti-Semitic acts. It is his threatening and demeaning rhetoric during the campaign and subsequently that has given license to potentially violent elements within American society.

    I would propose that History Professor Lawrence Davidson review some history books. Just because he personally doesn’t like Trump’s conjecture of a Zionist False Flag operation doesn’t mean that Trump is a delusional nut.

    Back when Israel was “recruiting” Jews from around the world it was perfectly happy to use violence as an inducement. Consider the narrative of Naeim Giladi, a Jewish native of Iraq:

    Six months later—the exact date was March 19, 1950—a bomb went off at the American Cultural Center and Library in Baghdad, causing property damage and injuring a number of people. The center was a favorite meeting place for young Jews.

    The first bomb thrown directly at Jews occurred on April 8, 1950, at 9:15 p.m. A car with three young passengers hurled the grenade at Baghdad’s El-Dar El-Bida Cafe, where Jews were celebrating Passover. Four people were seriously injured. That night leaflets were distributed calling on Jews to leave Iraq immediately.

    The next day, many Jews, most of them poor with nothing to lose, jammed emigration offices to renounce their citizenship and to apply for permission to leave for Israel. So many applied, in fact, that the police had to open registration offices in Jewish schools and synagogues.

    On May 10, at 3 a.m., a grenade was tossed in the direction of the display window of the Jewish-owned Beit-Lawi Automobile Company, destroying part of the building. No casualties were reported.

    On June 3, 1950, another grenade was tossed from a speeding car in the El-Batawin area of Baghdad where most rich Jews and middle class Iraqis lived. No one was hurt, but following the explosion Zionist activists sent telegrams to Israel requesting that the quota for immigration from Iraq be increased.

    On June 5, at 2:30 a.m., a bomb exploded next to the Jewish-owned Stanley Shashua building on El-Rashid street, resulting in property damage but no casualties.

    On January 14, 1951, at 7 p.m., a grenade was thrown at a group of Jews outside the Masouda Shem-Tov Synagogue. The explosive struck a high-voltage cable, electrocuting three Jews, one a young boy, Itzhak Elmacher, and wounding over 30 others. Following the attack, the exodus of Jews jumped to between 600-700 per day.

    Zionist propagandists still maintain that the bombs in Iraq were set off by anti-Jewish Iraqis who wanted Jews out of their country. The terrible truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews.

    www*inminds.com/jews-of-iraq.html

    Lots more at the link, including how the British were extremely helpful to the Zionists in their campaign. It’s my understanding this was Standard Operating Procedure, for Israel wanted Jews from everywhere to move to Israel.

    I’d remind History Professor of the “Lavon Affair”. This was violence for geopolitical purposes, as was the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. The little shithole of a nation was perfectly capable of mutilating the hand of the US to make its point. Mowing The Grass in Gaza serves to destroy infrastructure and directly kill Muslims of all ages. A TwoFer!

    “Zionist political violence” is a simple wiki, but Professor Davidson seem to be in denial about this matter.

    Trump may or may not be correct, but I’d bet 20:1 he’s spot-on and many of the attacks are “false flag”. It’s true that more than a few of Trump’s supporters are Nazi pinheads, but these types are especially susceptible to “copy-cat” actions.

    Many of these threatening calls turn out to be “unprecedented” in that they used “sophisticated voice masking technology.” They also warned of bombs made with specific types of explosives. Now, white supremacist organizations with military and security professionals among their members would, plausibly, have the technology and weapons experience used in these incidents. Of course, that does not prove they are responsible, but it does put them on what must be a rather short list of possibles.

    This is all correct, but Professor Davidson ignores the fact there is another potential player with unlimited money, entirely adequate motivation, and even more equipped in the “sophistication” business.

    The murderous and thieving little apartheid state of Israel wants Mike Pence to be President. Trashing Trump is part and parcel of the operation. I’m really disappointed with the blinders Professor Davidson is wearing in this article.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      March 6, 2017 at 18:28

      You lose credibility when you say these are false-flags.

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 6, 2017 at 20:42

      No offense, but a comment like that coming from you is an endorsement to Zachary’s posting.

  10. Bill Bodden
    March 6, 2017 at 17:47

    If not the biggest then surely one of the major defects in United States society is the racist culture entrenched among the American people. For generations before and after the establishment of the United States a large segment of white settlers and their progeny were hostile to enslaved and later segregated people of African origin and the indigenous peoples. This hostility was extended to any newcomers who were regarded as “them” and not “of us.” Despite the good intentions and efforts of a (probable) minority of people in opposition to all forms of bigotry progress has been slow and will continue to be so as long as racists and other bigots vent their venom and have an unenlightened audience.

  11. F. G. Sanford
    March 6, 2017 at 17:42

    Oh, please, Dr. Davidson, shall we completely disregard the greatest act of covert anti-Semitism in recent American history solely to disparage a man who, though admittedly linguistically ham-fisted, has never said anything to inspire such behavior? You have simultaneously accused him of a complete lack of illustrious attributes, and have insinuated that, through some gift of perhaps ‘animal magnetism’, ‘light behind the eyes’, or a preternatural ability to use ‘coded language’, he “…seems to to draw these people to him and comfortably walk the same road as they do.”

    Had it not been for the Clinton campaign’s crooked shenanigans, today’s President of The United States would be the son of a Polish-Jewish immigrant. He would be speaking to America in a decidedly clumsy but sincere Brooklyn accent, and America might be better for it. But people like Chuck Schumer and Debbie Wasserman Schultz would have none of that. I suppose someone might claim that makes them “self-hating” members of their particular ethnic persuasion. Then, there’s Victoria Nuland, who along with many similarly disposed Neocons, placed a neo-Nazi regime in control of Ukraine, an endeavor I would most definitely characterize as “anti-Semitic”.

    As far as the various forms of linguistic manipulation are concerned, only the “liberal elite”, the “intelligentsia”, could come up with “stochastic” terrorism – especially after seeing the photos of John McCain meeting with Al Nusra operatives in Syria, or Amy Klabuchar meeting with Nazis in Ukraine. How about “kinetic” terrorism? That might include Hillary Clinton “taking it to the next level” by providing bombs to Israel. Killing 2000 Palestinians in “self defense”, many of them women and children, certainly qualifies as “kinetic” in my book. Perhaps her willingness to indulge such proclivities made her more “Semitic” than Bernie, and as such, her back-room supporters could hardly be called “anti-Semites”.

    Yes, President Trump has been aptly accused of china shop bullishness, but I think “stochastic terrorism” is going a little too far. Just my opinion, and I happen to be a Democrat.

    • Joe B
      March 6, 2017 at 20:45

      Indeed, Davidson is playing the old “anti-semitism” game to see whether he can scare up support for giving the farm to Israeli racists. He well knows that the term is not only erroneous (Semites includes Arab groups), but Jewish racists are the only group that demands a special term for discrimination against themselves, which they use exclusively to make threats of false accusations.

      His use of “delusional pathology” is also very characteristic of right-wing Jewish propaganda, heavily laced with their delusional personality theories, twisted over generations to favor themselves, and to serve as a private denunciation mechanism against anyone who won’t give them the farm. He needs to recognize that this is a delusional pathology, not a theory, and no one is buying it any more.

    • Peter Loeb
      March 7, 2017 at 08:35

      “REASON (NOT) THE NEED…”SHAKESPEARE, “LEAR”

      As I have written in comments elsewhere, Lawrence Davidson
      overlooks the “need” for the Jewish Community to once
      again play the victim card.

      This is not by any means to deny that the incidents or
      some of them happened. They are to be deplored.

      Does Israel once again feel the need to excuse its
      own war crimes with international “sorrow”. Could
      ADL understand how it feels for Palestinians
      when their homes are demolished, their land
      and water is appropriated, they face murder every
      day of their lives?? (Of course Zionists make
      no such connection!).

      One wishes that the Jewish Community would begin
      to understand what it means to have your
      family murdered, your children raided at midnight
      and on and on. But then Israelis are
      entitled to Palestine, they say. The people who
      have lived there for centuries are not entitled either
      to the land or to human decency….

      (See my comment, “BUT WHO WILL SAVE THE MOSQUES?”)

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  12. Annie
    March 6, 2017 at 16:40

    Good grief why doesn’t the author of this article just blame it on the russians, instead of creating new fiction , with another easy target.

    • Realist
      March 6, 2017 at 17:36

      The author clearly has Trump Derangement Syndrome which gives him license, in his mind, to say anything derogatory about the man including this, even though Trump’s Jewish son-in-law has been given enormous clout within his administration and his own daughter has converted to Judaism. I haven’t heard Benjamin Netanyahoo call Trump an anti-semite yet, and that is a rare honor coming from him as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama used to regularly feel his wrath. Davidson is a reliable source of vitriol against Putin too, so don’t be disappointed none of that appeared here. Just wait for his next essay.

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