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Pray America repudiates Trump

    There's a snippet of video doing the rounds that is simultaneously shocking and unsurprising. It shows a supporter of Donald Trump at a rally in Phoenix, as the crowd strikes up the familiar chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!". Except he's chanting an amended version: "Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A!" He repeats it several times, all the while making a hand gesture which, we're told, mimics a symbol favoured by white supremacists. In case anyone fails to get the drift, he then explains to the dozens of reporters filming his little performance that "We are run by the Jews, OK?"

    It's shocking because naked bigotry and hate is always shocking. And also because Jews have for so long thought of America as a safe space, the goldene medina that took in Jewish immigrants, allowing them to put down the deepest roots and flourish. This short, nasty little video is a reminder that the US was never free of nativist hatred of newcomers, that antisemitism found a home there too. And it clearly never went away.

    But the incident was unsurprising in another way too. Anyone paying attention has seen for months that the Trump campaign has stirred up some of the ugliest forms of anti-Jewish hatred. Just look at the online abuse meted out to Jewish journalists who have dared to criticise the Republican nominee. When Julia Ioffe wrote an unflattering profile of Melania Trump, she was bombarded with abuse, including photoshopped images of herself in the uniform of an Auschwitz inmate. Tellingly, Mrs Trump blamed Ioffe for the abuse she had received, saying the reporter had "provoked" it.

    More recently, Hadas Gold of Politico was depicted with a yellow star on her chest and a mocked-up bullet wound on her forehead. "Don't mess with our boy Trump or you will be first in line for the camp," was the accompanying message. "Aliyah or line up by the wall, your choice." The Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, estimates that two million such tweets, replete with antisemitic language, were sent in a one year period.

    Of course the Trump campaign will say it deplores such abuse, just as it deplored the "Jew-S-A!" chant. But, interestingly, there has been no such explicit condemnation from the candidate himself. Which should shock no one, given that the cue for this anti-Jewish bile has come from the very top.

    The Trump campaign says it deplores such abuse

    Recall Trump's address to Republican Jewish leaders, when he praised Jews as experts in the art of "renegotiation", a coded way of saying Jews do not keep their word. In July, Trump tweeted an image - lifted from a white supremacist website - of Hillary Clinton against a backdrop of cash, with a six-pointed star in the foreground, announcing her as the "Most corrupt candidate ever." What was a symbol uncomfortably like the Star of David doing there?

    Others were struck by the speech last month in which Trump said that "Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers," a formulation so redolent of age-old antisemitic conspiracy theory that the ADL instantly condemned it.

    They feared Trump was sending out a dog-whistle, instantly intelligible to every Jew-hater in the land. (Some suspect the same dog-whistling explains Trump's curious habit during the TV debates of lambasting relatively obscure figures united only in having unambiguously Jewish names: a Blumenthal, Gruber and Wasserman-Schultz were all name-checked before a mass audience who would have struggled to identify any of them.)

    Elsewhere on these pages, US writer Daniel Trieman argues that Trump is surely no antisemite in part because Trump's daughter has married a Jew and converted to Judaism, with her husband a key figure in the campaign. But Trump's personal feelings about Jews are not the point. More important is the fact that his campaign has dredged up and reanimated dark loathings, against Muslims, women, the disabled and, yes, against Jews.

    His message - that decent, honest Americans owe their misfortune to a shadowy, global, monied elite who have cheated them of their birthright - is a view of the world with a long, lethal history. The same is true of his call for a strongman who "alone can fix" the country's problems. We've seen this movie before; we know how it ends. We must hope, perhaps even pray, that on Tuesday the people of America repudiate this man, and everything he represents.

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