Pres. Trump and the Jews [ssba]

Pres. Trump and the Jews

The following is being published in French in “Cahiers Bernard Lazare,” the publication of Le Circle Bernard Lazare, a French affiliate of the World Union of Meretz:

The astounding victory of Donald Trump is the most significant of a wave of recent electoral upsets that have been riling the world — beginning with Netanyahu’s triumph in 2015 and continuing in the past year with the British “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union, the rejection of a peace deal in Colombia, and the election of the murderous maverick Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines.  These results mostly contradicted the polls and confounded widespread expectations. 

Like the other disturbances, Trump’s election reflected deeply-felt anxiety, anger and unhappiness with the status quo.  And they all targeted scapegoats against whom to vent these feelings. 

Most American Jews are uneasy about what to expect.  Hillary Clinton earned a clear majority of Jewish votes (about 70%) that usually goes to the Democratic nominee.  Neoconservatives, the heavily Jewish Republican-aligned movement of hawkish internationalists and social moderates, deserted the Republican nominee en masse, with most either voting for Clinton, a third party candidate or with a write-in protest ballot. 

Trump’s explicit scapegoats were Muslims and illegal immigrants (mostly Hispanics), but antisemitism also showed its face during this campaign in vicious attacks on social media (especially Twitter), by some of his supporters, against Jewish journalists who dared to criticize — or simply honestly report on — Trump’s record as an individual and the conduct of his campaign.  Neoconservative views on Trump especially angered his supporters.  A report of the Anti-Defamation League counts 2.6 million tweets “containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech” from August 2015 to June 2016.  These include more than 19,000 “overly anti-Semitic” tweets directed against 800 journalists. Read More »

Chanukah, Trump and Refugees (Syrians and Jews) [ssba]

Chanukah, Trump and Refugees (Syrians and Jews)

Chanukah seems like a good time to reflect upon things that have been in the news lately — including phenomena that parallel Jewish experiences.  Whereas the Joseph story in this week’s Torah reading (Parshat Miketz) is clouded in Biblical legend — because its historical accuracy is unknown — Chanukah is based on real historical events; the Maccabees’ revolt against the Syrian-Greek Seleucid dynasty did happen.

But while we like to think of it as a struggle for freedom and religious liberty, this is only partly true. It was a national revolt that eventually created the Kingdom of Judea under the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty.  It was also a “clash of civilizations,” with traditional Jews triumphing over the Hellenists (Jews and Syrians) who ruled in Jerusalem; and so it was likewise a civil war among Jews. Read More »