Swastika-Clad Protesters Interrupt Trump Speech to Jewish Republicans

A woman protests as President Donald Trump speaks at an annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher / Associated Press
JOEL B. POLLAK

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — A group of protesters — at least one of whom was wearing a swastika T-shirt — interrupted President Donald Trump’s address to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) on Saturday before being ejected by security.

The demonstrators clambered on top of their seats in the ballroom at the Sands Expo and began chanting slogans against the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank. (Israel considers the area, which Jews calls Judea and Samaria, to be “disputed,” not “occupied.”)

At least one of the protesters, who happened to stand up a few rows in front of this reporter, was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a swastika — perhaps intended ironically, since some of the protesters unfurled a banner against “white nationalism.”

In a scene familiar from Trump rallies for nearly four years, the crowd around the protesters began chanting, “U-S-A!” and “Four more years!”

As the hecklers were removed from the venue, Trump joked about one of them: “He’s going back home to mommy.”

Roughly 2,000 people — including those attending the RJC’s annual leadership meeting, as well as members of the general public — filled the ballroom, many waving signs that said “TRUMP” in both Hebrew and English. Other signs read, “Thank you, President Trump!” and “We Are Jews for Trump.” Some men wore red yarmulkes emblazoned with “TRUMP” or “Make America Great Again.”

RJC Signs for Trump (Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch /IPX via Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS, NV – April 6, 2019: Trump Supporters pictured as President Donald J. Trump pictured addresses The Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, NV on April 6, 2019. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch /IPX

Make America Great Again Yarmulke (LAS VEGAS, NV - April 6, 2019: Trump Supporters pictured as President Donald J. Trump pictured addresses The Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, NV on April 6, 2019. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch /IPX via Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS, NV – April 6, 2019: Trump Supporters pictured as President Donald J. Trump pictured addresses The Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, NV on April 6, 2019. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch /IPX

Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson was in attendance, as were White House advisor Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, and many Republican elected officials.

Trump was preceded by Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, who was one of 17 students killed in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting last year.

Andrew Pollack at RJC (Ethan Miller / Getty)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 06: School safety activist Andrew Pollack speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas ahead of an appearance by U.S. President Donald Trump on April 6, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has cited his moving of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal as reasons for Jewish voters to leave the Democratic party and support him and the GOP instead. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Pollack, who has devoted the past year to holding public officials accountable for his daughter’s death, and reforming school safety regulations, is a passionate supporter of President Trump. He told the audience that he was a proud Jewish Republican, and said that fellow Jews who still supported Democrats had to be persuaded to see the light.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who chairs the RJC and was against Trump’s nomination in 2016, told the audience he had ben wrong — and listed Trump’s major accomplishments on U.S.-Israel relations — moving the embassy to Jerusalem, pulling out of the Iran deal, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, among others.

In that vein, four former Jewish Democrats who switched their party allegiance to the Republicans also spoke. Many cited former President Barack Obama’s hostility to Israel, and his eagerness to reach a nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime, which has vowed to destroy Israel. Others noted the rise of antisemitism in the Democratic Party.

Trump focused on that theme in his remarks as well. He poked fun at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), whose repeated use of antisemitic remarks had caused controversy earlier in the year (but could not move her party to condemn her or antisemitism specifically). In his introduction, Trump pretended to welcome Omar to the conference in error, drawing laughter from the audience.

Trump at RJC (Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch /IPX / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS, NV – April 6, 2019: President Donald J. Trump pictured at The Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, NV on April 6, 2019. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch /IPX

Vice President Mike Pence also spoke later in the afternoon and addressed similar themes, telling the audience: “Antisemitism has no place in the United States Congress.”

The extraordinary appearance of both the president and vice president at the RJC leadership meeting is a sign that Republicans believe they can appeal to Jewish Americans to change parties — and also represents an effort by the administration to highlight one of the most prominent examples of its policy success.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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