Friday, August 23, 2019

The Question of Jewish Loyalty

To say the least, Donald Trump should be more careful with his words. So says Eli Lake, and he is correct. Trump has a communication problem and he does not improve it by speaking for himself, unfiltered.

A more savvy communicator would not have chosen the slogan, America First, for his political campaign. I trust that we need not explain that one.

So, Trump maladroitly raised the issue of loyalty in one of his verbal fusillades against the Gang of Four and their enablers in the Democratic Party. How can American Jews, Trump suggested, continue to support the anti-Semites it their midst. Where is their sense of loyalty, or some such.

Eli Lake explained the point:

At the same time, the context of these particular comments shows that he is not engaging in anti-Semitism. In the modern context, the questioners of Jewish loyalty — think of Representative Ilhan Omar — tend to aim their calumny at the Jewish state: Diaspora Jews, according to this slander, are more loyal to Israel than to the country where they are citizens.

By contrast, Trump has raised the issue of Jewish loyalty not to question Jewish allegiance to the U.S., but to ask why Jewish Americans are not more loyal to Israel. His point is that the Republican Party, and his policies in particular, have been a boon to the Jewish state. Why wouldn’t Jewish Americans reward him with their votes?

In this respect, Trump’s comments are a rejection of the nativist claim that Jewish citizens are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S. After all, his administration moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. His administration recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He has used his bully pulpit to call out progressives like Omar, who suggest American support for Israel undermines the national interest. His diplomats have pressed countries like Argentina and Paraguay to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

It makes eminently good sense. 

And yet, the highly esteemed (by me) Bari Weiss, writing in the Times, took some serious umbrage at the notion that Trump would use the word “loyalty” in referring to American Jews.

The major debate tearing apart the American Jewish community on this particular Wednesday is whether or not the 45th president of the United States just accused them — us — of disloyalty to Israel and the Jewish people or of disloyalty to the Republican Party and the man who has remade it in his image.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” President Trump said on Tuesday, referring to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic congresswomen who support the boycott movement against Israel. “And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

And also,

What do you hear in the president’s statement, which, like many things he blurts out, manages to be both opaque and outrageous at once? If you’re pro-Trump or Trump-curious, you’ll generously hear an assertion that Jews should be loyal to Israel. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but hear echoes of the sinister charge of dual loyalty.

Of course, we do not recommend parsing Trump’s remarks. Conceptual precision is not his strong suit. And yet, we are within our blogger rights to twist the issue, the better to make it a bit more cogent. It’s Weiss’s prerogative to hear whatever echoes she hears, but that does not an interpretation make.

Take a different approach. What if Trump was questioning American Jews’ blind loyalty to the Democratic Party. This has nothing to do with dual loyalty or any other such absurdity. It does raise the issue of how American Jews can continue to remain loyal to a political party that has become the epicenter of American anti-Semitism, that has single handedly made anti-Semitism legitimate again.

This does not mean that all American anti-Semitism is coming from the political left. Now that anti-Semitism is acceptable, certain members of the right have come out from under their rocks. And the media has been happy to promote their bigotry … the better to allow leftists to continue supporting the Democratic Party.

In truth, anti-Semitism was revived by Chicago politicians, under the aegis of Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. Pres. Obama treated the prime minister of Israel with boundless contempt. And when Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, most members of the Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the event. Most of them could not bring themselves to denounce Farrakhan.

In truth, Islamist radicalism has, in America and in Europe, led the march to bring back anti-Semitism. And yet, President Obama could never pronounce the name and could never treat Islamid radicalism for the cesspool of anti-Semitism that it is. His more zealous followers concluded that it was not a problem. When Islamist terrorists shot up a kosher supermarket in Paris and murdered several people, Obama could not bring himself to declare it an anti-Semitic act.

Bari Weiss ought to consider these facts before she jumps to a wrong conclusion.

Let’s not forget that once upon a time there really was a Hitler. And he was in power in Germany for eight years before Pres. Franklin Roosevelt lifted a finger to stop him. And let’s not forget that Roosevelt did everything in his power, during the Hitler years to ensure that European Jews could not escape Europe. We do not know what a Republican president would have done, but surely FDR is responsible for his conduct of foreign policy. He is also responsible for sending the St. Louis, a ship filled with nearly a thousand Jewish refugees, back to Europe in 1938... and to the death camps. And let’s not forget, yet again, that the New York Times did yeoman work covering up the persecution of Jews in Europe and the Holocaust.

Given these facts-- there are many more-- how can you explain the loyalty that many Jews continue to feel toward the Democratic Party? Do they think that things would have been much worse if Republicans had been in power during the FDR years? Are they mortified by the fact that their very own Messiah, that is, FDR, sold them and their families out for political gain… because allowing Jews into America would have offended his labor union supporters? Or do they claim that FDR did everything he could, but that all the bad things that happened were forced on him by Republicans?

So, the loyalty issue cuts several ways. If Trump had been a more capable communicator he would have raised the issue of Jewish loyalty to the Democratic Party, to the party of the Gang of Four, to the party that is fostering and condoning Jew hatred, to the party of Barack Obama. After all, Obama made it safe to be anti-Semitic again in America.

But, Jews supported Obama, so they must feel obliged to shift the blame onto Republicans and onto Donald Trump, a man I called America’s first Jewish president.


David Foster said...

"how can you explain the loyalty that many Jews continue to feel toward the Democratic Party? "

Most American Jews are affluent, highly-educated, and urban, so you would expect least those who are not particularly share the political worldview of other people in their economic/professionalgeographical categories.

In my post The Phobia(s) That May Destroy America, I wrote tabout "the level of fear, contempt, and anger that many educated/urban/upper-middle-class people demonstrate toward Christians and rural people (especially southerners). This complex of negative emotions often greatly exceeds anything that these same people feel toward radical Islamists or dangerous rogue-state governments."

Anonymous said...

As a Jewish person I was very happy to hear him say it, and thought, "It's about time." But it will have zero effect because Democrat Jews pooh-pooh any anti-semitism in the Democratic party no matter how blatant it is. They get very angry and defensive if it is brought up. Trump's warning will have no effect whatsoever.

Sam L. said...

There seems to be a huge blind spot in some people.

sestamibi said...

What Trump said was an expression of disbelief that Jews not even don't express any sort of kinship with our Israeli brethren, but they choose alliance with our enemies as a matter of virtue signaling.

That doesn't really differ from my ongoing comment, made here and elsewhere numerous times, that if Hitler were non-white, Jews would be fighting for first place in line for the ovens. I have never backed off from that--even to my Holocaust survivor mother-in-law, because everything I've seen of the likes of Schumer, Schiff, Nadler, Schakowsky, and all their minions in elected office confirms it.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

To expand on David Foster’s point, the American category of “affluent, highly-educated, and urban” comprises — without question — the most bigoted, angry, unhappy people in America. They talk about Earth, peace, love and mindfulness, but they are America’s most intolerant, nasty, narrow-minded citizens. Ideologically, they are almost uniform. And they have virtually all the broadcast cameras, microphones and ink in American media. Meanwhile, most of us out here in “flyover country” just want to go about living our lives without interference. Is that too much to ask? I guess so.

All the Left’s gains — they’re not enough. And never will be. They want MORE, always more! It never stops. The insatiable, duplicitous and rabid ideology that gave us the Gulag. My goodness, we are now expected to cater to an infinitesimally-small minority of persons who cannot figure out what gender they are! That’s the “civil rights” frontier of our time. What’s next???

Most Jews I know are strongly on the Left side of the political spectrum. It’s clearly not racial. It’s not about DNA. It’s a product of an educational monolith, a dogmatic seminary system that delivers a ruthless, schizoid orthodoxy rooted in greed and hate: a life system that is economically collectivist, politically totalitarian, socially anarchist, and epistemologically nihilist. On every issue. Every. Single. One. All publicly-funded. And it claims to be developed, liberal, inclusive and really, really smart. All the while, we see such people seem to just... emote. Curious. The new Left resents the economically productive, condescends to those outside urban areas, and has empowered a social justice priesthood that has metastasized into a growing, dangerous warrior caste (Antifa).

The Left is consumed with hate. To Sam L’s point, I don’t expect Lefties to wake up today and acknowledge that they intentionally direct all their speech “bans,” religious intolerance, broadcast ridicule, gun control initiatives, environmental hysteria, political conspiracies, etc. at their enemies. Yet their hubris and ignorance has brought them to this point where they can claim a rising spectre of “white supremacy” with a straight face. Now THAT’S rich!

If knowledge is power, the Left is remarkably fearful. They are fearful because their totalitarian mindset must root out those who do not believe. For all their affluence, education, and urbane sensibility, these are truly ignorant people. This is driven by the fact that formal higher education — featuring degrees that the intelligentsia have traditionally coveted — is mired in a level of groupthink that would make Orwell blush.

I agree Trump erred here in tactics in technique. That said, I believe he can be forgiven based on nuance, and for the strategic fact that he is the singular target of a culture war that is tearing America apart. And I do not expect most Jews to accept responsibility for their part in that fight. Nay, I expect them to be proud of it.