Editor’s Note: Jason D. Greenblatt served as White House Middle East envoy in the Trump administration. He is the author of the book “In the Path of Abraham.” Follow him on Twitter @GreenblattJD. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
I write this as a proud Jew and a proud American.
I write this as someone who has known President Donald Trump for about a quarter of a century and who has worked for him for many of those years.
I write this piece from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country that has massively changed over the last number of years in so many positive ways as a result of Vision 2030, societal changes and welcoming tourists and businesspeople from all over the world.
I write this as an observant Jew who feels welcome and comfortable in the kingdom.
I give you all that background so you can understand the lens through which I view the former President’s dinner last week at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, and with Nick Fuentes.
It is no secret that antisemitism continues to grow and fester in the United States and elsewhere around the world, like a metastasizing, pernicious cancer. I had hoped that the United States might be immune to this age-old hatred, but it was not to be so. I am dismayed that for all the wonderful progress Jews have made in our country, antisemitism has only grown and thrived over the recent years.
First and foremost, antisemitism must not be tolerated anytime, anywhere from anyone. We must continue to call out the David Duke types, the Nick Fuentes types and the Kanye West types for their hatred. We must also pay attention to how antisemitism has seeped into our culture so effortlessly. Examples of this abound, whether on college campuses or in the form of “Saturday Night Live” monologues. I thought those days were long gone. But no longer.
So what do I think about the elephant in the room, the Fuentes-West dinner with President Trump?
I have seen President Trump speak strongly against antisemitism, and I have seen him harshly condemn antisemites over the years. Those statements were often not well-reported, but they occurred. President Trump has also been an incredible friend to Israel, which was founded as the Jewish state in 1948. He established history-altering policies that tremendously benefited Israel and some of its Arab neighbors.
But the question I am addressing is not about President Trump’s long, extremely positive record with respect to Israel and the Jewish people.
The question I am addressing is what I thought of President Trump having dinner with haters such as Fuentes and West. I think it’s a straightforward answer — it should not have happened. Period. I hope President Trump condemns Fuentes, West and their ilk for what they are — haters of Jews and haters of the foundations of the United States of America. People like Fuentes are dangerous to the United States. The President Trump that I know would recognize that and issue this condemnation.
Get our free weekly newsletter
Regardless of how or why the dinner happened, haters such as Fuentes and West should not be given a platform or seat at the table by anyone.
As I sit here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, catching up on the news cycle in America, it is hard to separate myself from the history that I was privileged to witness and take part in. I remain grateful for all that President Trump has done to change the face of the Middle East in so many ways. That’s why I can’t simply tweet my reaction to the West-Fuentes dinner at Mar-a-Lago.
Nor can I try to respond to this issue in a brief interview on television, especially if the anchor is looking to score political points against President Trump. We must not allow antisemitism to be politicized or condensed into sound bites. So in response to all those who have asked for my thoughts, I share them with you here.
To reformulate the words of President George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, don’t give bigotry, hatred or antisemitism any sanction and don’t give persecution any assistance.
Let’s not let haters such as Fuentes and West undermine the sacred mission of the United States of America, a country like no other country on the planet.