When prominent Jewish Republican Ari Fleischer tweeted his support for Donald Trump Tuesday evening, he exposed an emerging fault line that could split both the Republican party and Jewish conservatives.
Fleischer, who is on the board for the Republican Jewish Coalition and who served as White House press secretary under George W. Bush, drew sharp criticism from Jewish conservatives when he said he would support Trump over Hillary Clinton, following Ted Cruz’ withdrawal from the race.
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
Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin did not mince her words, writing that if the Republican Jewish Coalition backs the real-estate mogul, “they are dead to me.”
@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
Allen Ginzburg, who has written for conservative publication “Red Alert Politics” and is an avid user of the #NeverTrump hashtag, said a vote for Trump was “completely wrong.”
@AriFleischer And you will be completely wrong to do so.— AG (@AG_Conservative) May 4, 2016
Liberal Jews, predictably 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 1,700 times and received over 3,300 likes by Wednesday early 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.
The Republican Jewish Coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Forward.
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.