The main Republican Jewish group has endorsed Donald Trump for president, driving a fresh wedge between politically conservative Jews whose conflict over the presumptive nominee played out online on Wednesday, the day after Trump won the Indiana Republican primary.
The Republican Jewish Coalition posted on Twitter a message from its national chairman, David Flaum, congratulating Trump on his presumptive nomination, and saying there was “unity” among Republicans in the belief that Hillary Clinton “the worst possible choice for a commander in chief.”
Today the Republican Jewish Coalition released the following statement after Donald Trump’s win in Indiana. pic.twitter.com/QwVFNvj4hp— RJC (@RJC) May 4, 2016
But unity was hard to find as Republican Jews turned on each other, with some recoiling in horror at the idea of supporting a candidate they see as unprincipled, while others insisted that while Trump has his failings, he’s still a better choice than Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
In response to an earlier endorsement of Trump by Ari Fleischer, who serves on the organization’s board, conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote on Twitter that the organization would be “dead to me” if they followed Fleischer’s lead.
@AriFleischer No, No, NO. And if RJC backs him they are dead to me.— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) May 4, 2016
Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for the White House and Mitt Romney, said Trump does not represent the values of the Republican party.
. @NoamNeusner says #DonaldTrump does not align with the #RepublicanParty’s traditions or America’s core values: pic.twitter.com/hXco7EGVZL— abc730 (@abc730) May 4, 2016
A vote for Trump was “completely wrong,” tweeted Allen Ginzburg, who has written for conservative publication “Red Alert Politics” and is an avid user of the #NeverTrump hashtag.
@AriFleischer And you will be completely wrong to do so.— AG (@AG_Conservative) May 4, 2016
Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under George W. Bush, exposed an emerging fault line that could split both the Republican party and Jewish conservatives, when he expressed his support for Trump on Tuesday evening.
There’s a lot about Donald Trump that I don’t like, but I’ll vote for Trump over Hillary any day.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) May 4, 2016
Liberal Jews also condemned Fleischer’s Tweet. Peter Beinart, a political commentator and journalist who is an outspoken opponent of Israeli settlements, said Fleischer’s tweet was not unexpected.
@AriFleischer about what i would have expected— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) May 4, 2016
Prominent journalist Julia Ioffe, who was the victim last week of anti-Semitic attacks by Trump supporters after writing a profile about the Republican candidates’s wife, pointed out that Fleischer had only hours earlier posted a link to an article that criticized the real estate mogul for lying about his support of the Iraq War.
These were tweeted by the same human, consecutively. pic.twitter.com/yPYB869IdC— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 4, 2016
To be sure, Fleischer’s tweet did not only receive negative reaction. It had been retweeted over 1,800 times and received over 3,600 likes by Wednesday late afternoon.
Trump was criticized for drawing on anti-Semitic stereotypes when he referred to Jews as deal “negotiators” and said they would not support him “because I don’t want your money” during a December meeting with the Republican Jewish Coalition. He was also booed by the crowd when refusing to declare Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.