I used to be very much against people changing their names to de-Jewy them.
Didn’t like when Greenberg became Green or Perlitzky became Perle or Schwartz became Short. So sayeth the man with two first names, both of them biblical but neither of them particularly Jewish sounding.
In any case, I thought it wrong for people to try to hide who they were, try to shorten or drop or adjust their names just so they weren’t so obviously Jewish. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Indeed, I really wish more people with Jewish sounding names would make them not Jewish sounding at all. And fast.
Consider the ever bigger scandal engulfing Trump world. For anyone who doubts there is a lot of fire under all that smoke, I ask you but two questions. One is if Trump and his Trumpinistas did nothing wrong, why do they act so much like people with something to hide? And secondly, what is it with all the Russia connections? I mean it seems everyone close to the Donald has met with Russian bankers, tried to have back channel secret dealings with Russian spies, won’t ever say one bad word about Vladimir Putin, dictator and murderer.
But my biggest problem with all that is that so many of those who are so much a part of the scandal have very Jewish sounding names. His lead lawyer Marc Kasowitz. His son-in-law Jared Kushner. His personal attorney Michael Cohen. One of his chief apologists Alan Dershowitz. And then we have deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein who lied about why FBI Director Jim Comey was fired and whose idea it was.
We keep hearing those Jewish names and, as we hear more and more about the Russia thing, as the scandal keeps on month after month, we will hear those names more and more. Those very Jewish sounding names.
Now understand, it’s not anti-Semitism I’m worried about. As I have made abundantly clear over many years, I believe Jews no longer have to worry about anti-Semitism as a real factor in our lives. If Bernie Madoff and Monica Lewinsky didn’t unleash a torrent of Jew hatred, then nothing will. And if the fact that the top two officials at the Federal Reserve are Jews, Janet Yellon and Stanley Fischer, hasn’t done us in, nothing will. I mean they go right to the heart of the classic Jewish stereotype about money, and yet they have caused us nary a problem.
So no, I’m not worried that Kasowitz and Kushner and Cohen and Dershowitz and Trump’s other Jews are going to unleash anti-Semitism. What I am worried about is that they have already and will continue to rain shandah upon the Jewish people.
Shandah is that great Yiddish word meaning ‘shame,’ as in doing something ugly, illegal, immoral, unethical, shady, disgusting that will bring disgrace to Judaism. There are few greater sins, few things we need to be concerned about more.
We are, after all, G-d’s Chosen People, we are, after all, tasked with being a light unto the nations. Meaning being role models, showing our fellow inhabitants of earth how a people is to be, how G-dly people are to act. That’s a very significant responsibility, and it us for each Jew, in everything he does, especially everything he does publicly, to live up to it. To not bring shandah down upon himself, and so all of us.
But it’s been shandahpalooza with Trump’s Jews. Let’s start with Michael Cohen, who frequently appears on TV to defend the Donald. Consider what a creep he is. Recently he sent out a tweet featuring a photo of his daughter Samantha. Now that sounds like something any proud Jewish papa would do, sharing with the world how pretty his little girl is.
Thing is Samantha is not a little girl, she’s in her 20s. But the real thing is that the picture shows her posing provocatively, wearing nothing but a black lace bra and stockings. A picture posted online for all the world to see. By her father. Her Jewish father with his very Jewish sounding name.
When hundreds of people criticized the post, Cohen, as any good Trumpie would do, attacked. “Jealous?” Cohen wrote in response to a tweet. Another tweeter wrote, “Most fathers don’t post lingerie shots of their daughters.” To which Cohen responded. “Beauty and brains you a-hole!”
And so it went. “Yep, she’s gorgeous, however most fathers don’t share lingerie pics of their daughters on social media Mr Creepypants,” wrote one. Another added, “It’s cool to take pride in your daughter, but weird to be posting her underwear photos.”
And then, of course, we have Prince Jared, who tried to use Russian equipment to secretly communicate with the Kremlin without American intelligence agencies being able to know about it. And who met with a top Russian banker and Putin ally, but failed to mention it, as required by law, on his form to get top security clearance.
And then we have Alan Dershowitz. I mean yes, I understand everyone is entitled to a legal defense, but why does Dershowitz feel he has to defend the worst creeps on earth? Claus von Bulow, OJ Simpson and now Donald Trump.
Dershowitz has been out there all over the media defending Trump. He’s challenged critics of Trump who claim the president should be charged with obstructing justice if testimony by Comey is true. The Torah teaches us that ‘justice, justice shalt thou pursue,’ but Dershowitz, supposedly such a great Jew and great lawyer, has been strongly defending Trump’s legal authority to stop the FBI investigation into the whole Russia thing. I guess, as with most lawyers, moral authority never crossed his mind. Not a good thing for Jews when someone who makes himself out to be a super Jew and gets a lot of air time is so obviously demeaning himself so he can be in Trump’s good graces.
But the biggest shandah maker of all, and the guy we will be hearing from the most in the coming months, is Marc Kasowitz, the lawyer Trump has hired to handle the entire Russia thing.
Kasowitz is, in a word, a world class sleaze. Indeed, he is known as the Donald Trump of lawyers. His Manhattan office is filled with magazine covers and framed pictures of himself. He’s quick to tell you about his latest accomplishment and never shies from publicity. The first paragraph of the online biography on his firm’s website, before mentioning any of his work, cites the dozens of media outlets that have written about him, and how they have described him as the “toughest lawyer on Wall Street,” an “uberlitigator” and “the toughest of the tough guys.” Titles that reflect so well on the Jewish people.
I don’t have room to itemize all the creepy clients he has represented or all the vicious tactics he’s employed or all the backstabbing he’s done. Let’s just note that he’s been on the side of tobacco companies, is currently on the side of sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly and, in what seems especially relevant, he recently added Sberbank, a Russian state-controlled bank, as a client in a case that accused it of conspiring to take over a Russian granite company — and asserting that the conspiracy involved lieutenants of Putin. Another Kasowitz client is Oleg Deripaska, a Russian tycoon who is close to Putin and who has had business dealings with Paul Manafort, once Trump’s campaign chairman.
And now Kasowitz is the guy representing Trump in a matter that could very well end his presidency, please G-d. And already this toughest of tough guys doesn’t care how he acts or who he hurts or how many norms he violates to do it.
For just one example, he’s been meeting with White House officials, many of whom might be witnesses or defendants very soon, and he’s been telling them it is not necessary for any of them to hire their own lawyers. Trump has a lawyer to defend him, Jared has a lawyer to defend him, but Kasowitz is telling everyone else at the White House not to bother doing so.
Why that matters first is because, as the New York Times has reported, “Such conversations between a private lawyer for the president and the government employees who work for his client are highly unusual… Kasowitz bypassed the White House Counsel’s Office in having these discussions.” Why that matters is that “the White House Counsel’s Office typically supervises such discussions to make sure the aides understand their rights and do not feel pressured to help a lawyer who does not represent their interests, legal experts said. The counsel’s involvement is all the more critical in this case, they said, because many of the aides — potential witnesses in the government’s inquiry — do not currently have personal lawyers.”
They don’t have lawyers because Kasowitz told them they don’t need them. Why that matters is because “under ethics rules, Kasowitz cannot interview any official who has hired a lawyer without that lawyer’s permission, meaning it would be in his interest if administration aides did not hire their own lawyers, experts said. “It is probably easier for him to represent Trump if he doesn’t have to deal with a bunch of other lawyers,” said one legal expert.
Added Richard Painter, the White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, in a worst-case scenario, a staff member might listen to Kasowitz’s advice and “end up thrown under the bus.”
Which is why I would advise anyone in the White House who thinks they can trust Jewish lawyer Kasowitz not to screw them, not to use them in his twisted effort to save Trump, to think again.
And why I would advise Kasowitz and Dershowitz and Kushner and Cohen to change their last names as quickly as possible, and to make them as un-Jewy as possible, before they throw the entire Jewish people under the bus.