Trump, Carson have Republican Jewish establishment worried

From JTA: WASHINGTON – The Republican Jewish establishment is watching the surge of political outsiders — like Donald Trump and Ben Carson — in the presidential primaries with dismay.

“It’s like we have a conference call every morning, and we ask, ‘What can we do to screw ourselves up today?’” said Fred Zeidman, a longtime fundraiser for Republican presidential candidates.

Zeidman’s exasperation pervades the Jewish Republican world: A party that has, in recent years, established a cozy relationship with Jewish conservatives seems to be careening — at least since the presidential race began.

Donald Trump, the billionaire reality show star, has lobbed rhetorical bombs at Hispanics, women and GOP rivals, and promised to deport 11 million illegal immigrants. Ben Carson, the retired world-famous neurosurgeon, said this weekend that a Muslim can’t be president.

The two men are jostling for the lead in polls, with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in third. All three have never held elected office — and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, along with other establishment candidates, lag behind the outsiders.

“This election is proving that nobody really knows anything, including me,” said Seth Mandel, the Op-Ed editor of the New York Post.

It’s a disorienting experience for longtime Republican Jewish donors and activists, who have made inroads into the party’s establishment over the last two decades, and who have been at the forefront of advocacy for tolerance and pluralism within the party.

“The tone of what they’re saying, we get painted as a party of intolerance,” said Zeidman, who practices law in the Houston area and backs Bush’s candidacy.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric especially infuriates Zeidman, a past chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, who was driving near his home during his phone interview with JTA.

“I think half the people I’m looking at doing roadwork in 100-degree heat are not legal — and they are working their tuchus off,” he said.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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