American Jews angry about Trump’s latest rhetoric say he can’t tell them how to be Jewish

(John Locher/Associated Press)

American Jews angry about Trump’s latest rhetoric say he can’t tell them how to be Jewish



March 21, 2024

Since the beginning of his political career, Donald Trump has played on stereotypes about Jews and politics.

He told the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015 that you want to control your politicians and suggested using public money to exert control. At the White House, he said that Jews who vote for Democrats are deeply disloyal to Israel.

Two years ago, the former president hosted two outspoken anti-Semites for dinner at his Florida residence.

And this week, Trump accused Jewish Democrats of being disloyal to their faith and to Israel. That caused many American Jews to take positions behind the now familiar political lines. Trump’s opponents accused him of promoting anti-Semitic tropes, while his defenders suggested he was making an honest political point in his own way.

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, said Trump is taking advantage of tensions within the Jewish community.

For people who hate Donald Trump in the Jewish community, this statement will certainly reinforce the feeling that they want nothing to do with him, he said. People who like Donald Trump in the Jewish community are probably nodding in agreement.

Trump says Jews who vote for Democrats ‘hate Israel and their religion’

For many Jewish leaders in a demographic that has largely identified as Democratic in 2020 and supported President Biden, Trump’s latest comments promoted harmful anti-Semitic stereotypes, portraying Jews as having divided loyalties and asserting that there is only one right way to be religiously Jewish.

That escalation of rhetoric is so dangerous, so divisive and so wrong, said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish religious group in the US. This is a moment when Israel needs more bipartisan support.

But Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the president’s comments should be heard in the context of the war between Israel and Hamaz and Democratic criticism of the state of Israel.

What the president said in his own unique style was giving voice to things I get asked about several times a day, Brooks said. How can Jews remain Democrats in light of what is going on? He argued that the Democratic Party is no longer the pro-Israel bastion it used to be.

More than 31,800 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive that followed Hamas. 7 attack on southern Israel, in which militants killed about 1,200 people and took dozens hostage. Much of northern Gaza has been razed to the ground and officials have warned that famine is looming.

Anti-Semitism and safety fears are on the rise among American Jews, research shows

Trump’s comments followed a speech by the Senate majority leader

Chuck Charles E.

Schumer, the country’s highest-ranking Jewish official. Schumer, a Democrat, last week sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war. Schumer called for new elections in Israel and warned that the civilian toll in Gaza would damage Israel’s global standing.

Every Jew who votes for Democrats hates their religion, Trump replied in a talk show on Monday. They hate everything about Israel.

An outpouring of Jewish voices, from Schumer to the Anti-Defamation League to religious leaders, denounced Trump’s statement.

In a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday, Trump’s campaign doubled down, criticizing Schumer, congressional Democrats’ support for the Palestinians and the Biden administration’s policies on Iran and aid to Gaza.

President Trump is right, says Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign.

Jeffrey Hert, an anti-Semitism expert at the University of Maryland, disagrees with Schumer’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza but believes most Democrats support Israel and said a second Biden term would be better for that than a second Trump term.

Kanye West apologizes to Jewish community for his anti-Semitic ‘outbursts’

If [Trump] loses the 2024 elections, his comments set the stage for blaming Jews for his defeat, Herf said. The obvious result would be to fan the flames of anti-Semitism and make Jews guilty once again.

According to Sarna, Trump was trying to appeal to politically conservative Jews, especially the small but fast-growing Orthodox segment, which sees Trump as a defender of Israel.

According to a 2020 Pew Research Center report, about 10% of American Jews are immigrants. Sarna said significant numbers are conservative.

At the same time, Democrats face tension between their Jewish constituency, which is overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and their progressive wing, which is more pro-Palestinian.

Sarna said that while it may seem strange to focus so much attention on subsections of a minority population, elections in America are very close and every vote counts.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said on his podcast Tuesday that Trump was making a point that, frankly, I made myself, which is that Jews who vote for Democrats don’t understand the Democratic Party. Shapiro, who practices Orthodox Judaism, claimed the party is overlooking anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the CEO of Truah, a rabbinic human rights organization, said Trump has no business dictating who is a good Jew.

The far-right Israeli minister’s criticism of Biden is causing anger at a sensitive time for American ties

By insinuating that good Jews will vote for the party that is best for Israel, Trump invokes the age-old anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty, an accusation that Jews are more loyal to their religion than to their country, and therefore cannot be trusted. said. Historically, this accusation has sparked the worst anti-Semitic violence.

During his own time in office, Trump’s policy of supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu and the settler agenda only endangered Palestinians and Israelis and made it harder to achieve peace, Jacobs said.

Pittsburgh-based journalist Beth Kissileff, whose husband is a Conservative rabbi

in the conservative denomination of Judaism

In 2018, the countries that survived the deadliest anti-Semitic attack said it was deeply offensive for Trump to be a self-appointed arbiter of what it means to be Jewish.

Chuck Schumer had every right to say what he said, Kissileff added. Just because there were Jews doesn’t mean we agree with everything [Israeli] government does. We have compassion for innocent Palestinian lives.

Brooks, of the Republican Jewish Coalition, defended the former president against accusations of anti-Semitism and cited his presidential record as an example of evidence.

High-tech and war integrate some ultra-Orthodox Jews into Israel’s secular society

Trump pursued policies popular among American Christian Zionists and Israeli religious nationalists, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and supporting Jewish settlements in occupied territories. His daughter Ivanka is a convert to Orthodox Judaism, and her husband and their children are Jewish. The couple worked as high-profile surrogates for the Jewish community during the Trump administration.

Trump’s top supporters include white evangelicals, many of whom believe the modern state of Israel fulfills Biblical prophecy. Prominent evangelicals who support Zionism have also been criticized for inflammatory statements about the Jewish people.

Sixty-nine percent of Jewish voters in 2020 supported Biden, while 30% supported Trump, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the electorate conducted in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago. That made Jewish voters one of the religious groups where support for Biden was strongest. So 73% of Jewish voters in 2020 said Trump was too tolerant of extremist groups.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson said Trump’s comments fall in a complex middle zone, which is not explicitly anti-Semitic but relies on such tropes.

American Jews base their votes on a complex mix of issues and values, including inclusivity, diversity, climate change and civil rights, said Artson, a leader in Conservative Judaism. While we love Israel in different ways, many of us also care about the well-being and self-determination of Palestinians.

Peter Smith and Tiffany Stanley write for the Associated Press. AP reporters Mariam Fam and Amelia Thomson DeVeaux contributed to this report.


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