Note: The Ledger went to press prior to the Tuesday, March 15 primaries.
Rubio at Fla. shul: Israel ‘will not have a better friend than me’
(JTA) — Speaking at a press conference at Temple Beth El in Florida last week, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio promised that if he were elected president, “Israel will not have a better friend than me.” “We are going to take a side and we are going to be on Israel’s,” the Florida senator said. “I think Israel is willing to be incredibly accommodating and have proven their willingness to do so. The Palestinian Authority has never shown any willingness, in fact they have turned down some very generous offers in the past.” Rubio also repeated criticisms of Donald Trump he made during last week’s GOP debate. “We are electing the next commander-in-chief and when the one leading in the polls will not take sides, imagine if he were president?” Rubio said, referring to Trump’s pledge to be “neutral” on Israel-Palestinian talks. The press conference at the Conservative Jewish congregation followed a private meeting with local rabbis.
Sanders beat Clinton 2-1 among Michigan Arab- Americans
(JTA) — Arab Americans in the Dearborn area voted 2 to 1 for Bernie Sanders in the Michigan Democratic primary, according to an Arab-American newspaper. “Arab-Americans voted 2 to 1 for Sanders in almost every east Dearborn precinct,” the Dearborn-based Arab-American News reported March 9, the day after Sanders upset Hillary Clinton. Sanders had campaigned among Arab Americans, broadcasting campaign ads in the Dearborn area in Arabic. At an event Monday, on the eve of the primary, he said he would be even-handed in brokering peace between Arabs and Israelis.
The Arab-American News had endorsed Sanders, citing what it said was his “unequivocal” condemnation of Islamophobia, and said his foreign policy would not be subject to pressure from “special interest groups.” “His foreign policy will not be dictated by a military industrial complex that promotes war for profit or Christian Zionist groups that lobby Washington to support Israel for theological reasons,” the newspaper said, although it said his posture on Israel was deficient, in part because he defends Israel’s right to self defense and has blamed Palestinians in part for hostilities.
Trump invokes Ivanka’s Jewish family to defend Israel stance
By Ron Kampeas/(JTA) — Donald Trump maintained that he would be a neutral broker of Israeli-Palestinian peace — parrying tough criticism from his rivals by noting his love for Israel and his daughter Ivanka Trump’s Jewish family.
Sen. Ted Cruz was the first to challenge the real estate magnate on his Israel posture in the debate broadcast by CNN on March 10 from Miami, ahead of March 15 primaries in three states with substantial Jewish populations: Florida, Ohio and Illinois. (The Ledger went to press as these primaries were underway.)
“On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians,” Cruz said. “As president, I will not be neutral,” Cruz said, and cited the murder in a terrorist attack in Israel this week of Taylor Force, an American tourist from Cruz’s home state, Texas. “He was an Eagle Scout, he was a West Point graduate, he was an Army veteran,” Cruz said. “He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist this week in Israel, and I don’t think we need a commander-in-chief who is neutral between the Palestinian terrorists and one of our strongest allies in the world, the nation of Israel.”
Trump in his reply said there was no one “on this stage that’s more pro-Israel than I am.” He cited his 2004 appearance as Grand Marshal at the Israel Day parade in New York, prompting some laughter in the audience.
“I have tremendous love for Israel,” he continued. “I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter that are Jewish, OK? And two grandchildren that are Jewish.” Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump is married to Jared Kushner, who is Jewish.
Trump went on to say that brokering a peace deal would require a degree of neutrality.
“If I go in, I’ll say I’m pro-Israel and I’ve told that to everybody and anybody that would listen,” he said. “But I would like to at least have the other side think I’m somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done.”
Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the fourth GOP candidate, also sharply criticized Trump, both saying that it was destructive to insist that a peace deal was doable in the near term.
“The policy Donald has outlined, I don’t know if he realizes, is an anti-Israeli policy,” Rubio said. “Maybe that’s not your intent but here’s why it is an anti-Israeli policy: There is no peace deal possible with the Palestinians at this moment.” Kasich agreed. “I don’t believe there is any long-term permanent peace solution,” he said. “And I think pursuing that is the wrong thing to do. I believe that every day that we can [foster] stability in that region by supporting the Israelis and making sure they have the weapons and the security that they need with our 100 percent backing is the way to proceed in the Middle East in regard to Israel.”
Ben Shapiro resigns from Breitbart over handling of alleged assault
(JTA) — Conservative journalist Ben Shapiro is resigning from Breitbart over the news site’s handling of an alleged assault by Donald Trump’s campaign manager on a Breitbart reporter. Shapiro and Michelle Fields, who claims a Trump staffer forcefully pushed her away from the Republican presidential candidate at a news conference in Florida, both resigned Sunday night, March 13, according to Buzzfeed News.
Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew and syndicated columnist, was an editor at large for the right-wing site founded by the late Andrew Breitbart. “Andrew [Breitbart’s] life mission has been betrayed,” Shapiro wrote in a statement he submitted to Buzzfeed. “Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Breitbart News’ Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.”
Breitbart News’ editor at large, Joel Pollak, published a satirical article on the site Monday morning mocking Shapiro for resigning and suggesting he was looking for a post at Fox News. It was posted under the name William Bigelow — the name Shapiro’s father, David, used while writing for the site, Politico reported. The article has since been deleted. According to Politico, David Shapiro also resigned from Breitbart on Sunday night. The Trump campaign has denied Fields’ allegations. She and Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, who was standing next to Fields at the time, both wrote accounts of the incident.
“Both Lewandowski and Trump maligned Michelle in the most repulsive fashion,” Shapiro wrote in his statement. “Meanwhile, Breitbart News not only stood by and did nothing outside of tepidly asking for an apology, they then attempted to abandon Michelle by silencing staff from tweeting or talking about the issue. Finally, in the ultimate indignity, they undermined Michelle completely by running a poorly-evidenced conspiracy theory as their lead story in which Michelle and Terris had somehow misidentified Lewandowski.”
Buzzfeed reported that several other Breitbart employees are looking to leave in the wake of the Fields incident. The company’s spokesman, Kurt Bardella, resigned on Friday.
‘Go to Auschwitz’ video fuels Trump Nazi worries
By Gabe Friedman
Donald Trump’s fans aren’t helping him move past the recent Hitler comparisons.
This weekend saw the Nazi equations shift from the Republican front-runner to his supporters. On Saturday, a Trump supporter explicitly invoked the Holocaust in a confrontation with a protestor outside a Kansas City rally. “Go to Auschwitz,” said an unidentified man in a Yankees T-shirt. “Go to f—ing Auschwitz.”
Not surprisingly, the Internet had a lot to say about that.
Some commentators on Twitter tried to add a little humor to the situation. Some examples:
Jeffrey Goldberg – When that Trump supporter yelled “Go to Auschwitz,” he likely meant, “Go to Auschwitz to gain a full understanding of unchecked extremism.”
Jeet Heer – “Go to Auschwitz” — what a curious way to say “I have economic grievances.”
David Fear – Spoiler: Characters in ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ escape bunker, realize they’re in Trump POTUS America. “Go back to Auschwitz” says aliens.
Others weren’t in a joking mood.
Rick Wilson – I’m still pondering just how dark your soul has to be to shout “Go To Auschwitz!” at a political rally.
Yair Rosenberg – Trump supporters now tweeting me videos of “Holocaust revisionists” to explain why Auschwitz wasn’t actually so bad
Jake Kolar – Trump supporters aren’t violent, they just want you to go to Auschwitz.
One Twitter user even suggested hijacking Trump’s upcoming speech to AIPAC.
Nick Prime – I will personally give money to any AIPAC intern that plays that ‘go to Auschwitz’ Trump supporter clip during Trump’s AIPAC speech.
Trump has called the comparisons of him to Hitler “ridiculous,” but not all his supporters seem to have gotten the memo.