(RNS) — I am sure that I know some people who attended the Israeli American Council event this past Saturday evening (Dec. 7) at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, at which the guest speaker was President Donald Trump.
In fact, we might have "run into" each other on the road — between Aventura, where I live and where the president had just addressed a fundraiser, and Hollywood Beach, where the Diplomat is located. A trip that should have taken me five minutes took an hour: my latest encounter with the Anti-Destination League.
So, here is what I need to ask you, my friends and acquaintances who were in the audience at the Diplomat when the president spoke.
You heard Trump say: "A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You're brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me, you have no choice.”
Did you applaud?
You heard Trump say: "You're not going to vote for the wealth tax. ... Yeah, let's take 100% of your wealth away. No, no. Even if you don't like me, some of you don't. Some of you I don't like at all, actually. And you're going to be my biggest supporters because you'd be out of business in about 15 minutes if they get it.”
Did you laugh?
You heard Trump say: “You have people that are Jewish people that are great people, they don’t love Israel enough, you know that ... "
Did you do a fist pump in the air?
You heard Trump say: "You have to vote for me. You have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that.”
Did you enthusiastically nod your head?
Let me get this straight.
You heard the president of the United States refer to Jews as "brutal killers" and "not nice people." You heard the president of the United States resort to millennia-old anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish avarice and misanthropy.
Did you gasp?
You heard the president of the United States say that as Jews, you have no choice but to vote for him. You, Zionists all, heard the president of the United States say that the Jews are weak, feckless, disempowered, without choices and without real agency.
Did you shake your head?
- You heard the president of the United States accuse the Jews of being greedy and money-driven.
Did you turn to your neighbor and say: "What the ... ?"
- You heard the president of the United States say: "Some of you I don't like at all, actually."
Did you reach for your valet parking ticket?
- You heard the president of the United States presumptuously question the love of American Jews for Israel. (That is an old theme of his.)
Did you stop to think for a moment: "True, many American Jews need to love Israel more. But it somehow seems wrong to equate a love for the present Israeli government with a love of Israel. I have friends and relatives who don't like Trump, but they love America."
You heard the president of the United States, once again, refer to a United States senator with a racist slur.
Did you turn to your neighbor and say: "Wait one second here. That is just plain wrong. Soon he could be referring to Bloomberg as Fagin, or Sanders as Shylock."
My assumption is: No, you didn't say any of those things.
Apparently, most of you laughed, applauded, cheered when you heard the president say those words. Many of you chanted, "Four more years."
It was hardly the first time that the president has trafficked in what he must think is folksy, insider anti-Semitism.
Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, defended Trump's comments, saying, "To all those who are saying @realDonaldTrump trafficked in anti-semitic tropes in his speech last night by talking about how the Dems will tax them see their wealth evaporate- get over yourselves. He literally talks about this at every rally."
Compare Brooks' response to the American Jewish Committee's tweet to the president:
"Dear @POTUS - Much as we appreciate your unwavering support for Israel, surely there must be a better way to appeal to American Jewish voters, as you just did in Florida, than by money references that feed age-old and ugly stereotypes. Let's stay off that mine-infested road."
Or compare the response of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan Greenblatt, its CEO, denounced Trump's remarks in a series of Twitter posts, arguing he trafficked in "anti-Semitic tropes."
To those Jews who cheered Trump, guess what?
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you might be that phrase that you love to throw at other Jews whose politics you abhor.
You might be a self-hating Jew.
What else would you call a Jew who laughs and cheers at anti-Semitic insults?
You might be a ma yafahsnik.
Polish Jews used to sing “Mah Yafit” (”how beautiful”) at the Sabbath table.
But no one sings that song anymore.
Apparently, Polish gentiles thought that the melody was exotic, quaint and even funny. When Polish lords wanted to entertain themselves, they would summon “their Jews” to the estate for a command performance of “Mah Yafit.”
Then they would coerce the Jews into turning the song into a travesty, complete with grotesque dancing and extravagant hand gestures. They would force the Jews to ridicule themselves.
In time, this kind of entertainment became popular. It inspired a class of professional Jewish comedians. They would entertain the public with grotesque Jewish caricatures, complete with monologues and skits in thick mock Polish-Jewish accents, always embellished with a song-and-dance version of “Mah Yafit.”
Thus, the term “mahyafasnik” was born — a Jew who willingly debased himself before gentiles.
This past Saturday night, that was you — my Jewish, Israel-loving friends who sat there and heard the president of the United States go all Jew-hatey and racist — and who loved it.
You should be ashamed.