Critics have attacked the tweet as anti-Semitic. Reports have surfaced that the image appeared on a white-supremacist message board ten days before Trump’s campaign tweeted it. Trump’s speech yesterday comes just a day after a scathing report from the FBI about Hillary Clinton’s private email servers. But instead of using the opportunity to hit Clinton on the report, Trump spent much of the time reigniting the Twitter controversy. He also doubled down on his praise for Saddam Hussein, a person who gave financial support to families of Palestinians who attacked Israel.
What do Jewish voters in Michigan make of Trump, especially in light of these recent controversies? Is this a turning point for that community? Or have Jewish voters’ minds long been made up about their opinions of Trump?
“I don’t see Donald Trump, even if he was on his best behavior, even if he was ‘please-and-thank-you Donald Trump,’ would be getting a significant percentage of the Jewish community’s vote,” says Detroit Jewish News President and Publisher Arthur Horwitz, who notes Jewish voters have overwhelmingly supported Democrats in the past. ”And with what he’s been saying and doing, I can’t imagine the Jewish community is going to be flocking to him.”
Trump says the image is not a Star of David, but rather “a sheriff’s star” or “a regular star,” accusing members of the press of racial profiling for suggesting it appears to be the Jewish symbol.
“It does not look like the star that Sheriff Barney Fife wore on Andy of Mayberry, I can tell you that,” says Horwitz, who also serves as co-chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
“There may have been no malice,” he says. ”However, with the context - with Elie Wiesel in the news, with it being on a pile of money - ‘insensitive’ would probably be the kindest thing that I can say, ‘outright stupid’ would probably be more fitting.”
Sixteen-year-old listener Mira, who is Jewish, says she’s more troubled by Trump’s policy positions.
“To me, the most troubling issue about Donald Trump is his view on immigration, specifically towards Muslim people,” she says. ”Just knowing the history of the Jewish people and the Holocaust, and how difficult if was for my ancestors to find refuge and those that did not, it’s disgusting to me the lack of empathy towards refugees that are struggling with being persecuted for their religion. And I think that is a giant issue for me as a Jewish girl.”
To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.