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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Did Trump Really Slur (Democrat) Jews?

This article first appeared in  Times of Israel Blogs.



This week, President Trump, as he regularly does, spoke out on an issue in a manner that his enemies are using to accuse him of bigotry. In the midst of the ugly controversy over Democrat members of the US House of Representatives, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s aborted effort to visit Israel and stir up trouble, Trump questioned why American Jews would vote for the Democrat party and threw in the “loyalty” word, which Jews worldwide consider an anti-Semitic slur accusing Jews of having less than full loyalty to the nation in which they reside. For several decades, American Jews have suffered from the accusation that they hold more loyalty to Israel than they do to America.
As a supporter of Trump (and a Gentile), I have to admit that he is not very articulate, and he has a habit of expressing his views in a manner that invites attack. Having said that, I think the accusation against Trump of being an anti-Semite is inaccurrate and unfair. It is not only the fact that Trump has shown himself to be the most pro-Israel president since Harry Truman. He has demonstrated that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his sympathies lie with Israel. In addition, he has spoken out forcefully against Jew hatred-the type of Jew hatred that has been exhibited repeatedly by Omar and Tlaib. The type of Jew hatred that has been ignored by the Democrat party, which has refused to condemn these two provocateurs.

But the accusation that Trump used the word, “disloyalty” in a manner that suggests anti-Semitism must be addressed because in his typically in artful way, he did come close to what many Jews consider anti-Semitic verbiage; that is accusing (American) Jews of being disloyal.
But disloyal to what?
The slur that Jews worldwide object to is that they owe more loyalty to Israel than to the country in which they reside and hold citizenship-in this case, the United States. Even the accusation of “dual loyalty” is a slur and is included in the definition of anti-Semitism by the US State Department. But however in artful Trump’s statement may have been, that is not what he said or suggested. What Trump meant was that liberal American Jews who voted Democrat were being disloyal to Jews in general as well as Israel. That point can be argued till the cows come home, but it is not anti-Semitic because it shows that Trump is on the side of Israel and is sympathetic to Jews in general. This is a point that has been very effectively pointed out by Los Angeles-based Jewish writer and pundit, Eric Golub, a supporter of Israel and Trump.
“Trump accused liberal Jews of being disloyal to their religion, not their country. That is a major distinction.”
Let me go further.
Over a decade ago, I became an activist opposing anti-Semitism, which I observed on the campus of the University of California at Irvine, where I was employed as a part-time teacher from 1998-2016. I learned quickly that the problem of anti-Semitism was being stirred almost exclusively by the pro-Palestinian movement that sought to delegitimize Israel. As I began to speak out, I learned that some Jews were not only ambivalent toward Israel, but actively sided against the Jewish state taking the Palestinian side. Some of these folks were Jewish students, professors, and activists. Others were so-called Jewish leaders of such organizations such as the Jewish Federation of Orange County and the Anti-Defamation League, people who claimed to be pro-Israel, but who chose not to confront the anti-Semitism being promoted by pro-Palestinian and Muslim groups.
The Jewish community in America is fragmented when it comes to virtually every topic. In addition, it is fair and accurate to say that many American Jews have embraced liberal politics due to their own history of persecution and sympathy for the underdog. In some respects, in my view it has been misguided, but where I think it has really gone off the rails is the identity that the Jewish left has with the Palestinian cause. There is no denying that part of leftist ideology is embracing the Palestinian cause even when its anti-Semitic underpinnings are exposed. As for American Jews putting their sympathy for Israel over their allegiance to the US, that is nonsense. My experience tells me that American Jews who support Israel are fiercely loyal to the US. Those on the left (Jew and non-Jew) who march in lock step with The Palestinians, on the other hand, have a tendency to trash the US as much as Israel. So who is “disloyal”?
What Trump is doing is similar to what he has done in other areas; he is bringing discussion on a critical topic to the forefront. It is time that American Jews really reexamine their traditional allegiance to the Democratic party. This is not me talking; this is not Trump talking. This discussion is going on right now in the American Jewish community. It is a discussion that needs to be held. President Trump has stood tall with Israel in this latest Omar-Tlaib fiasco. The Democrats, on the other hand, have stood by those who would wipe the Jewish state off the map. By all means, let us discuss this openly.

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