Trump entertains anti-Semites Ye and Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago dinner

Commentary

30% of American Jews voted for Trump. Will his latest hobnob with a neo-Nazi, Holocaust denying, white supremacist change their minds?

I concluded a column posted before the midterms, Catching up on the mid-terms – GOP arrogance, campaign donations, Trump, Ye and anti-Semitism…what a week! with this:

I know this will get me into trouble with some, but I’m going to say it anyway: How any American Jew can vote for Trump or any of the racist, anti-Semitic MAGA candidates around the country he hand-picked and is supporting; how any coalition of American Jews can say silent in the face of blatant anti-Semitism by two public figures, one of whom is the former President of the United States, is beyond my ability to comprehend!

What’s wrong with these people?

Little did I think that just about a month later, almost everything I lamented about in that column was in the news again.

Let me provide some context.

As I’m sure most of you know by now, the former, twice impeached President, Donald Trump, invited Kanye West, aka Ye, and far-right, white supremacist, anti-semite, Nick Fuentes to dinner at Trump’s self-described “Florida White House/Governmental Classified Document Storage Center,” Mar-a-Lago. I’ll let historian and professor of history at Boston College, Heather Cox Richardson, fill in the details from her November 26 newsletter, “Letters from an American:”

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 22, former president Trump hosted the antisemitic artist Ye, also known as Kanye West, for dinner at a public table at Mar-a-Lago along with political operative Karen Giorno, who was the Trump campaign’s 2016 state director in Florida. Ye brought with him 24-year-old far-right white supremacist Nick Fuentes. Fuentes attended the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in its wake, he committed to moving the Republican Party farther to the right

Fuentes has openly admired Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and authoritarian Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is currently making war on Russia’s neighbor Ukraine. A Holocaust denier, Fuentes is associated with America’s neo-Nazis. 

In February 2020, Fuentes launched the America First Political Action Conference to compete from the right with the Conservative Political Action Conference. In May 2021, on a livestream, Fuentes said: “My job…is to keep pushing things further. We, because nobody else will, have to push the envelope. And we’re gonna get called names. We’re gonna get called racist, sexist, antisemitic, bigoted, whatever.… When the party is where we are two years later, we’re not gonna get the credit for the ideas that become popular. But that’s okay. That’s our job. We are the right-wing flank of the Republican Party. And if we didn’t exist, the Republican Party would be falling backwards all the time.”

Fuentes and his “America First” followers, called “Groypers” after a cartoon amphibian (I’m not kidding), backed Trump’s lies that he had actually won the 2020 election. At a rally shortly after the election, Fuentes told his followers to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” Fuentes and Groypers were at the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and at least seven of them have been charged with federal crimes for their association with that attack. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Fuentes himself.

Accounts of the dinner suggest that Trump and Fuentes hit it off, with Trump allegedly saying, “I like this guy, he gets me,” after Fuentes urged Trump to speak freely off the cuff rather than reading teleprompters and trying to appear presidential as his handlers advise. 

But Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024 just days ago, and being seen publicly with far-right white supremacist Fuentes—in addition to Ye—indicates his embrace of the far right. His team told NBC’s Marc Caputo that the dinner was a “f**king nightmare.” Trump tried to distance himself from the meeting by saying he didn’t know who Fuentes was, and that he was just trying to help Ye out by giving the “seriously troubled” man advice, but observers noted that he did not distance himself from Fuentes’s positions. 

At the time of Professor Richardson’s letter, not one leading Republican politician had come out against Trump’s actions. In the two days that followed, several have, including former speaker Paul Ryan, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and two Republican members of Congress, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who have no future in the party and were not reelected for another term, among a few others. But, spokespeople for nearly two dozen House and Senate Republicans — including party leaders, co-chairs of caucuses and task forces focused on Judaism or antisemitism and sponsors of legislation to combat antisemitic hate crimes — did not respond to requests for comment.

And, significantly, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in line to become speaker of the House in January has been notably, but characteristically silent about the scandalous affair. 

As Professor Richardson wrote, “…McCarthy desperately needs the votes of far-right Republicans [like Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) who have affiliated themselves with Fuentes] to make him speaker of the House. To get that support, he has been promising to deliver their wish list—including an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter—and appears willing to accept Fuentes and his followers into the party, exactly as Fuentes hoped.”

Trump, for his part, went to his well weathered “Trump Book of Outrages and Excuses,” you know, the one that includes “witch hunt,” “not fair” and other time-dishonored phrases, choosing this often-used rationale, (I) “never met and knew nothing about” as he characterized the racist Fuentes before he arrived with Ye at his club. Trump went on to “make nice” to Ye saying, “We [Ye and I] got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet?”

Remember, this is the same Donald Trump who, in 2016, waffled when asked to denounce the KKK after he was endorsed by the group’s former leader, saying in a televised interview that he didn’t “know anything about David Duke.” The same Donald Trump who as President in 2017, in the aftermath of the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. And the same Donald Trump whose rallies frequently feature inflammatory rhetoric from figures like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who spoke earlier this year at a far-right conference organized by Fuentes.

In that October column I prefaced my final thoughts with, “I know this is going to get me in trouble…” One month later, I will say it again…but this time more strongly and with no equivocation or caveat:

How any American Jew can vote for Trump, or any of his acolytes, goes way ‘beyond my ability to comprehend,’ it angers me; it disgusts me.

It makes me wonder how I, and Jews who vote for Trump, come from the same cultural, moral and ethical backgrounds.

It makes me incredulous as they give Trump, a former President of the United States who still has a staff and advisors, a pass when after sitting down with a neo-Nazi, Holocaust denier claims he didn’t know who he was. Or claims he didn’t know who David Duke was. Or the Ku Klux Klan...

It makes me question whether there is anything more important to these American Jews than tax cuts and unencumbered, unfettered, unquestioned support of the Israeli government, right or wrong. Are those things more important than following a man who is a serial liar, who deals in false equivalencies, and entertains and then lies about people like Ye and a 24-year old neo-Nazi like Nick Fuentes?

Yes, it makes me angry, it makes me wonder, it makes me incredulous, it makes me question. But most of all, it makes me ask, as I did back in October:

What’s wrong with these people?

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

4 thoughts on “Trump entertains anti-Semites Ye and Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago dinner

  1. I’m right there with you Ted. I have a Jewish friend, Lucie Ramsey with whom I text everyday since Ma’ayan died. Her son, Aaron, committed suicide by gun almost 40 some years ago when he was 18 and I have kept in touch with her because I want to help with her pain that I know is there and she is trying to help me with my pain. She is a very proud Jew and supports 45 because of his supposed support of Israel(which I think is bad for Israel) and it makes me sick to see her posts on FB supporting all of these right wing, dangerous people. I will never understand it. She isn’t the only one, our good Christian friends who volunteer in Israel also love MTG and her ilk. How can they!!!!!! How can they!!!!!!

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    1. I feel for your friend. Anyone who has lost a child or a grandchild can feel her pain. Her unquestioned support of Israel is not atypical. For many Jews, it is simply a black or white issue: either you’re for Israel or you’re not. For many, there’s not much scratching beneath the surface. The problem is, support of Israel does not mean unequivocal support of Israeli government in power. Just like supporting America, patriotically, doesn’t mean unfettered support of what the government does. That’s why, theoretically at least, we have political parties. If we don’t support everything the government does, we vote them out. (of course in our system, that’s easier said than done)

      I wrote a piece in December 2019 called, “Trump issues executive order to fight anti-Semitism — Judaism: Nationality or Religion?” https://around-the-block.com/2019/12/18/trump-issues-executive-order-to-fight-anti-semitism/. In it, I quoted Jared Kushner who wrote:

      “The Remembrance Alliance definition makes clear what our administration has stated publicly and on the record: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism (emphasis, mine). The inclusion of this language with contemporary examples gives critical guidance to agencies enforcing Title VI provisions.”

      I commented:

      “It goes without saying that I abhor anti-Semitism. There is no place in this country, there is no place in this world for anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”

      I concluded with this:

      Let me finish with one last thought. If anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are equivalent, Jews have a real schizophrenia problem as this, from the Jewish Virtual Library, would suggest:

      “Jews who criticize or oppose Zionism are usually Orthodox and maintain that Israel can only be regained miraculously. They view the present state as a blasphemous human attempt to usurp G-d’s role, and many actively work to dismantle the secular State of Israel. However, unlike many gentile anti-­Zionists, Jewish anti-Zionists usually firmly believe in the Jewish right to the Land of Israel, but only at the future time of redemption.”

      Isn’t it ironic then, that the the balance of power in Israeli politics, the ultra-Orthodox, the “Jewish anti-Zionists,” are actually the ones who, in Trump’s and Kushner’s definition, are the anti-Semites.

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  2. Very powerful writing! Thank you Ted for giving voice to my feelings. However, what do we do about this? Personally, I believe that there are also many indoctrinated by Rupert Murdoch and the FOX channel. I’d love to get them off the airways. Fox’s lawyers wrote a defense of Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingalls for a lawsuit literally saying that they are entertainers and not to be taken literally. What was it that Sydney Powell said about her own words that she uttered about the fake 2020 election in her defense? “No reasonable person” would believe that her statements were fact.

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