Trump advisers criticised as ‘court Jews’ for not resigning over Charlottesville comments

Comments highlight Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn and Jared Kushner


Senior Jewish figures in the Trump administration have been criticised as “court Jews” by their co-religionists for their continued support of Mr Trump after his comments on Charlottesville.

At a press conference last week Mr Trump said that some of those who had taken part in a neo-Nazi march in the city were “very fine people”, and that, despite a white supremacist driving a car into a group of protestors, killing one and injuring many, there was blame on “both sides”.

As Mr Trump made these comments, standing next to him were Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, his Jewish Treasury Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser.

Writing in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank, a Jewish columnist, took aim at Mr Mnuchin and Mr Cohn, as well as the President’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“All three let it be known through anonymous friends and colleagues that they are disturbed and distressed by what Trump said”, he wrote.

“But none is speaking publicly about an outrage that makes millions of Americans feel as though they are living a nightmare”.

“We have seen such a character before in Jewish history: the shtadlan. The shtadlan, or “court Jew,” existed to please the king, to placate the king, to loan money to the king. He would dress like other members of the court, and he would beg the king for leniency toward the Jews, but, ultimately, his loyalty was to the king”.

Jewish authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman also published an open letter, calling for “Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and our other fellow Jews currently serving under this odious regime… to resign”.

On Sunday, Mr Mnuchin responded to an open letter sent to him last Friday from fellow members of his 1985 college class at Yale calling upon him “as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy”.

In his response, Mr Mnuchin said: “As someone who is Jewish, I believe I understand the long history of violence and hatred against the Jews (and other minorities) and the circumstances that give rise to these sentiments and actions.

“While I find it hard to believe that I should have to defend myself on this, or the President, I feel compelled to let you know that the President in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways”.

The statement was met with some ridicule on social media, with a journalist summing up reaction by responding: “It's almost as if Mnuchin just wants to pretend the Tuesday news conference, where Trump spoke for himself, didn't ever happen.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive