Did Eric Trump’s ‘Shekels’ Comment Betray the Trump Family’s anti-Semitism?

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump with his sons Donald Trump Jr., left, and Eric Trump, right, at a caucus night rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. Feb. 23, 2016.

When Eric accused Bob Woodward of undermining the Trump administration for money, he used a term, ‘shekels,’ which isn’t normative American slang. Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit and the leader of the ‘Never Trump’ movement simply asked on Twitter: “Is Eric too stupid to know he’s being anti-Semitic?” Is this proof of Jew-hatred in the first family?

Jonathan Tobin for Haaretz

Nobody was surprised when Eric Trump took a shot at Bob Woodward after the Washington Post legend’s behind-the-scenes expose of his father’s White House portrayed it as one on the verge of chaos. 

But when the younger Trump accused Woodward of undermining the administration for money, his choice of words provided more ammunition for those who believe the Trump father and sons have engaged in dog-whistling that is encouraging alt-right anti-Semites.

The offending phrase uttered in the Trump-friendly forum of the Fox News Network’s “Fox and Friends” morning talk show was, “It’ll mean you sell three extra books, you make three extra shekels.” 

To Israelis and those who know Israel well, the word shekel simply means money. Urban Dictionary also notes that the word is popular slang for cash in Ireland. But it’s also frequently referenced on alt-right websites, and is the sort of language that neo-Nazis use to refer to traditional anti-Semitic memes about Jews and money.

Most of those commenting noted that shekels isn’t normative American slang like “bucks” or “dough” or even a more antique word like “somolian.” Since Eric Trump also probably doesn’t speak Hebrew, many jumped to the not entirely unreasonable conclusion that he got it from reading far right websites.

The same charge has been lodged against his older brother Donald Jr. for tweeting an image of a frog meme beloved by anti-Semites.

As far as New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman and the author of a recent book on anti-Semitism was concerned, it was language straight out of “The Daily Stormer.”

Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit and the leader of the Never Trump movement simply asked on Twitter: “Is Eric too stupid to know he’s being anti-Semitic?

While Eric Trump is, unlike his sister Ivanka and brother-in-law Jared Kushner, not part of the administration, this incident is being connected to comments by his father dating back to the beginning of his presidential campaign that are viewed as racist. 

In particular, Trump’s reaction to last year’s neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville Virginia, in which he conflated anyone who opposed the removal of Confederate statues with the murderous racists who marched there, by saying there “very fine people” on both sides, encapsulated what seems like either a deliberate appeal to hate or a puzzling indifference to the obvious implications of such words.

Even if one were to assume the worst, it presents an equally confounding instance of cognitive dissonance involving both the Trumps and their critics.

While by no means common, “shekels” is, like a great many other Hebrew and Yiddish words, working its way into American lexicon. As JTA noted, mystery author Mickey Spillane used it in at least one of his potboiler novels. Moreover, in the New York real estate world the Trumps inhabit, it’s not a stretch to think that he might have heard it in conversation at some point in a way that had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Assuming that this is solid proof of anti-Semitism is more a function of the general antipathy for the Trumps than anything else. Keep in mind that those – like the Anti-Defamation League – who claimed Trump was effectively encouraging a spate of bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers last year by what were assumed to be alt right extremists that turned out to be the work of a disturbed Israeli teenager, eventually had to eat their words. 

It’s also true that the fixation on the Trumps has caused some otherwise reputable sources to ignore evidence of anti-Semitism that can’t be connected to the president. 

Two weeks ago, one of the country’s leading anti-Semites and hatemongers, Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, was given a place of honor at the nationally televised funeral/tribute concert for the singer Aretha Franklin.

Few if any in the mainstream media commented on his presence on stage or that former President Bill Clinton sat with him and shook his hand, a shocking instance of normalizing anti-Semitism.

Had the KKK’s David Duke been given a similar honor and been embraced by a former Republican president you can bet that it would have been front-page news the next day. Weisman of the Times, whose book shockingly ignores Farrakhan’s mass following and the growing constituency for Jew hatred on the far left, had nothing to say about that – and neither did his newspaper.

It’s also fair to point out that the same day the shekels controversy broke, Trump’s Department of Education announced a reversal of an administration refusal to investigate a glaring case of anti-Semitism at Rutgers University.

It may be that the tiny band of neo-Nazi anti-Semites are somehow encouraged by mentions of shekels or re-tweeted images of frogs. But it’s just as obvious that anti-Semites have no influence over Trump’s policies.

The attempt to connect the dots between these incidents in order to prove that the Trumps are anti-Semites, rather than merely figures who are deplored for a host of other reasons, may make sense to their opponents – but as of now is far from conclusive.

  1. #1 by Matthew on 09/13/2018 - 9:34

    What really galls the jews is the Truth! Simple as that. The Truth is this septic tank scum’s Kryptonite.

  2. #2 by TruthOutJournal on 09/13/2018 - 9:34

    Aaaaaah, the sweet sound of “jew hatred”. It just falls off the tongue. Hearing it more and more as of late. Yes, the truth is kryptonite to Judea, Inc. A sin to them like no other.

  3. #3 by James Benn on 09/13/2018 - 9:34

    “Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit and the leader of the Never Trump movement simply asked on Twitter: “Is Eric too stupid to know he’s being anti-Semitic?“”

    Huh? Am I missing something? Does everyone know something I don’t?!

    Surely the substantive issue is not whether shekels or mere mention of them is ‘anti-semitic’, but whether Bob Woodward is actually being paid in shekels … or Federal Reserve Notes?

    And this article, if such it can be called, doesn’t make it any clearer.

    If I were a bettin’ man, I’d say he was being paid in Federal Reservation Notes. But it hardly matters. They both come from the SAME SOURCE. Namely, they are both issued as debt to the Rotshite-owned and operated central banksterin’ cabal that has, not just the Anglophone tax farms in its grip, but the entire world. Well, the entire world that hasn’t been bombed yet. And that would be most.

    But no, Jonathan Tobin dedicates his entire article to questioning whether or not the use of the word ‘shekel’ is ‘anti-semitic’ or qualifies as “the sort of language that neo-Nazis use to refer to traditional anti-Semitic memes about Jews and money”.

    Groan. The same old canards. The same furious snow screening. The same old hysteria about ‘neo-nazis’ under the bed. I for one frequently question the Jewish stranglehold on the money supply. Would Janathan denounce me as a ‘neo-nazi’? Preposterous. I have always self-identified as a ‘centrist’. Bang smack in the center.

    After all … no matter where you go in this world and this life … there you are.

    I guess the take-home message must be that Bob Woodward is NOT a credible witness. He too is yet another servant of MAMON.

    One notes with interest that Malcolm Turnbull, the recently Primed Monster of Australia, is to be replaced in his local bye-bye election by former Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma.

    And the great Rachid Taha … dead at 59 … “Je chante pour aller jusqu’au bout de ma folie” … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fn3uTRLY16U

  4. #4 by trymuchharder on 09/14/2018 - 9:34

    I shall use the word more often…can’t wait to use it during a meeting with government officials or real estate developers.

  5. #5 by Michael Mazur on 09/14/2018 - 9:34

    @BillKristol, so what that Eric used the word ‘shekels’? Only Jews can talk about or allude to Jews, else we’re anti-Semitic ? How does one talk about the perpetrators of the mass murder of 66,000,000 Christians in communist Russia without mentioning the word Jews?

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