Arkush: Trump has 'disgraced the office of President'

Former Board President says he hopes Trump will 'never again be able to return to public life'


Former Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has insisted Donald Trump has “disgraced the office of President” and branded his “dog-whistle messages to far-right extremists” as “repulsive”.

In a stinging rebuke of the outgoing president’s record in office, Mr Arkush also disputed claims he had ever expressed direct support for Mr Trump either before he stepped down as head of the Board in June 2018 or afterwards.

Mr Arkush told the JC: “I have watched with alarm what I regard as Trump's descent into dangerous, unhinged populism. 

“His dog-whistle messages to far-right extremists are repulsive, just as they were at Charlottesville.  If you incite contempt for democracy and violence you should not be surprised if violence happens, as it did last week in Washington DC.

“In my view Trump has disgraced the office of president.  I will be glad to see the end of his tainted presidency and I hope he will never again be able to return to public life.”

The barrister said he believed some of America’s foreign policy decisions in relation to the Middle East had proven themselves to be “correct” since Mr Trump came to office in November 2106.

But he argued that praise for such policy decisions did not itself equate to support for the outgoing president.

“I believe that some of the USA's foreign policies regarding Israel have been correct, such as recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the embassy there, and the recent Abrahamic Accords with UAE and Bahrain,” said Mr Arkush.

“If I have commented on these I do not think I have mentioned President Trump, as he certainly does not have my approval.”

Mr Arkush received criticism from some in the community four years ago after he issued a message of congratulations to Mr Trump on the Board’s website and social media platforms only hours after US election result was announced.

But on Tuesday he said: “I believe the record will show that as Board President I issued a routine and formal statement of congratulation on his election as President, as the Board does with elections in every country with a significant Jewish community, and consistently with every major American Jewish organisation. 

“However, unlike the American organisations, I coupled my statement with a sharp rebuke on the rancorous tone of his campaign and said that it should not repeated.  Sadly, it was.

“I also issued statements on President Trump at other times containing no praise and only criticism of the content and Trump's policies.  For example, from memory, I criticised his ban on Muslims entering the US.  I also commented harshly on what he said about the marchers in Charlottesville, among other matters.

“I stepped down as president in June 2018.  Since then, my social media presence has been far less and I use Twitter only occasionally, almost always to comment on antisemitism at home.”

Last October the current Board President Mrs van der Zyl said she believed President Trump had proven to be  a “very divisive figure” .

In an appearance on the BBC's Question Time  show she said “in terms of foreign policy he has done some good things” but added he had not “disavowed himself from the associations with the right wing, or the white supremacists.”

After last Wednesday’s violence scenes in Washington, Mrs van der Zyl added: “Through his irresponsible rhetoric, President Trump bears a huge measure of responsibility for inciting this mayhem.”


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