In May 2016, Ben Shapiro—arguably the most influential conservative Jewish pundit in America—did something admirable. He admitted he was wrong. “I’ve spent most of my career arguing that anti-Semitism in the United States is almost entirely a product of the political Left,” Shapiro wrote. “The anti-Semitism I’d heard about from my grandparents — the country-club anti-Semitism, the alleged white-supremacist leanings of rednecks from the backwoods — was a figment of the imagination, I figured. I figured wrong.”
Yes, he did. But after last week—in which a man in Florida sent a bomb to George Soros and a man in Pittsburgh shot up a synagogue because he believed the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was trying to “bring invaders that kill our people”—Jewish conservatives need to grapple with something even more uncomfortable. The question is no longer: Does anti-Semitism exist among American conservatives? It’s: Is anti-Semitism an inevitable byproduct of the nativist conservatism being championed by President Trump? The answer to that question is yes.
It is certainly possible to believe in lower levels of immigration and stricter immigration enforcement—as do my conservative Atlantic colleagues David Frum and Reihan Salam—without fueling anti-Semitism. But Trump isn’t just a restrictionist. He’s a dehumanizing, conspiratorial, apocalyptic restrictionist. He calls Latino immigrants “rapists” and “animals.” He says that immigrants constitute “an invasion” that threatens America’s ability to “endure as a sovereign, independent nation.” He claims that the Central American gang MS-13 has “literally taken over towns and cities of the United States.” He suggests that Democrats are “openly encouraging many millions of illegal aliens” to vote and are giving “a lot of money” to “people to try to get to the border by Election Day.”