Something both fascinating, enraging and terribly sad happened this past week.
Like the honest storybook child who pointed out that the “Emperor has no clothes,” President Trump said two words no one wanted to hear, pointing out a situation many recognize but most are afraid to mention.
With a piercing, instinctive understanding, Trump put a spotlight on an identity crisis in the Jewish community.
“Who am I being disloyal to?!”
An indignant American Jewish Democrat asked me, who he is being disloyal to. He was angry and he really didn’t understand – and that is what makes this issue so very sad…
President Trump’s quote about “disloyal Jews” was part of a statement regarding Israel barring Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib from touring the country, due to their active involvement in the BDS movement.
The media coverage, whether through sloppy reporting or deliberate spin, sparked rage and gave birth to numerous accusations against the President including:
- “He is invoking a classic antisemitic trope about dual loyalty” – the idea that Jews can’t be loyal to the land of their birth.
This idea is historically ridiculous considering that Jewish leadership always instructed Jews to be loyal to the laws of the land and not stand out too much because being too different from the neighbors put Jewish lives in danger.
- “This is just proof of how hateful and divisive he is”
- “He told Netanyahu to bar Congresswomen Talib and Omar from Israel to gain political points and Netanyahu did his bidding” – a comment that completely disregards Israel as a sovereign nation that makes its own decisions and actually has a law barring BDS supporters from entering the country
- He hates Talib and Omar because they are successful Muslim women
- “If he means we should be loyal to him or to the Republican Party he’s just insane and should be impeached”
Listening to what he actually said paints a picture, 180 degrees opposite of the media spin.
He was answering the question:
“Ilhan Omar said the United States should rethink its policy of aid towards Israel after she and Congresswoman Talib were denied entry… Should there be any change in US aid to Israel?”
His answer was unequivocal.
“No. And you should see the terrible things that Talib has said about Israel. And AOC +3… Omar is a disaster for Jewish people. I can’t imagine, if she has any Jewish people in her district that they could possibly vote for her.”
He proceeded to call out Rashida Talib’s tearful anti-Israel press conference, recalling her behavior at his campaign rallies before she became a Congresswoman:
“I saw a woman who was violent and vicious and out of control and all of a sudden I see this person who is crying because she can’t see her grandmother. She could see her grandmother. They gave her permission to see her grandmother but she grandstanded and she didn’t want to do it. That’s a decision of Israel… They [Israel] could let them [Talib and Omar] in if they want but I don’t think they want to. If you read the things they’ve said about Israel and if you look at their itinerary before they found out [that they would not be allowed to enter Israel], you take a look at their itinerary, it was all going to be a propaganda tour against Israel. So I don’t blame Israel for doing what they did. I had nothing to do with it but I don’t blame them for doing what they did. I think it would have been very bad to let them in. Including the four. I’m talking about all four but these two, Omar and Talib. I think it would be a very bad thing for Israel but Israel has to do what they have to do but I would not cut off aid to Israel. I can’t believe we are even having this conversation. Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this — even three years ago — of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people — I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation! Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Antisemitic trope and disingenuous rage
Anyone who can understand English cannot possibly listen to what Trump said and believe there is a modicum of Jew-hate behind his words. In fact, all the accusations against him simply evaporate when you pay attention to what he said:
- He was speaking about AOC +3, not just Talib and Omar.
- He had nothing to do with barring the Congresswomen from Israel but he does understand and support Israel’s decision.
- Talib was given special humanitarian permission to visit her grandmother – on the condition she didn’t turn her visit into a BDS propaganda display. She refused, choosing hate over her grandmother.
- Trump expressed deep dismay at the change in the Democratic Party –
Israel was always a by-partisan consensus and now they choose to support haters like Omar and Talib rather than doing what the Party always did – stand for Israel. He wasn’t attacking the Democratic Party as a representative of the Republicans. He was asking as an American, how the values of the Party became so perverted.
And antisemitism? I am old enough to remember Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. None of them ever showed so much genuine concern for the well-being of the Jewish People.
The indignation and rage over Trump’s remarks are disingenuous and, well… enraging.
In a world of identity politics and intersectionality it is a tragedy that there are Jews who do not comprehend the basic truth behind what President Trump said.
The Jewish People are family. In a family, no matter how much you disagree, you are supposed to protect your relatives from attack by outsiders. Just think of the brother who bullies his sister but beats the snot out of anyone who treats her poorly. That is what family is supposed to do.
Donald Trump instinctively understands what so many American and even Israeli Jews have forgotten about their own identity. Watching the way he lives his life and who he trusts, it is obvious that Trump sees value and strength in blood ties (wives can be replaced, children cannot). It is his children who he trusts and counts on the most. That’s why it is easy for him to recognize that the Jewish People are one family and no matter how much we love the lands we were born in or have other issues of interest, family comes first – or at least it should.
One doesn’t get to choose your relatives. We don’t always like our family members. We Jews have family who bring us pride (like Gal Gadot) and we have the problematic ones (like crazy Uncle Bernie). But it’s not supposed to matter – no matter how far apart we live or how different our ideas are, when facing an external threat, family is supposed to defend its members (we can go back to fighting after the threat is dealt with).
That’s what Trump was talking about.
Family that doesn’t come to the defense of other family members, particularly when their lives are threatened, are disloyal:
Jews who heard Israel say the Iran deal puts our lives in danger and supported it anyway.
Jews who saw how Obama treated Israel and voted for him the second time too.
Jews who choose socialism over Judaism. Who choose local politics over the politics of survival of our people and the safety of our ancestral homeland.
Jews who say that the hatred is directed at Israel, caused by Israel and not at Jews.
Just like German Jews said: “We’re not Jews, we are Germans of the Mosaic faith (the faith of Moses).” Sadly it was their neighbors who taught them otherwise. Jews are Jews first, no matter how they self-identify.
Jews who blame terror attacks against Israelis on “the occupation” and Netanyahu rather than the terrorists and the leaders that poisoned the minds of young people, raising a generation to believe that murdering Jews is an honorable act – those Jews aren’t just disloyal to family. They are disloyal to the Jewish ideals of morality, justice and common human decency.
Donald Trump was talking about Jews who rush to stand in solidarity with Ilhan Omar and their “Muslim sisters” and don’t cry for Rina Shnerb.
Jews who choose those who hate and wish to destroy their family because it is the current fad in the Democratic Party. In my opinion that’s also disloyalty to America because America was founded on morality and acceptance of all people. Allowing a political party that represents half of the country to be led by people who incite hate, lie and front for actual terrorists is a betrayal of the entire American people, not just the Jews. Israel was always a bi-partisan issue. The security of Israel is in the best interest of the United States. Undermining this is bad for everyone.
THAT is what Trump was talking about when he said: “I can’t believe we are even having this conversation.”
Trump was gracious enough to give those Jews an excuse – possibly they are terribly ignorant about politics and don’t understand what is going on. That’s a much nicer possibility than willfully endangering and consciously betraying your own family.
I am less gracious.
Israel is wary of calling out disloyal Jews. Our numbers are so small, the idea that a large fraction of our people might break away from us is frightening. Considering the reality, I believe that it is worse to pretend the problem doesn’t exist and let the damage continue to be done from within by Jews who have turned against our family, who undermine our safety, delegitimize our history and side with those attempting to eliminate our future.
This isn’t a matter of the Republican Party vs the Democratic Party. This is a matter of policies that have a direct and immediate effect on my family, on our survival.
The years of Clinton-Obama foreign policy caused so much damage to Israel and the entire Middle East that it is mind-boggling. The amount of bloodshed that occurred is so shocking that the world, particularly Americans seem to have promptly forgotten all about it.
Endangering the State of Israel, empowering Iran, denying our right to self-defense and supporting the denial of our connection to our ancestral homeland and holy places via the UN are just the beginning. The rest of the Middle East suffered too, much more than Israel has. These are just a few examples:
- In Egypt – ousting Mubarak, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, looking the other way when Christians were slaughtered and delegitimizing Sisi
- In Iran – Remaining silent when the government shot young people in the streets during the Green Revolution, the Iran deal, enabling arms acquisition amnd shipment to Hezbollah, threatening Israel’s borders.
- In Iraq – leaving a vacuum which enabled the rise of ISIS and subsequent slaughter of thousands, genocide of Yazidis, sex slavery, torture organ theft and more
- The war in Yemen
- Destabilizing Libya, Benghazi… does anyone remember Benghazi and the time American soldiers were given the order to stand down when Americans were under attack?!
Anyone who wonders why most Israelis hated Obama and love Trump should reread the list above. Israelis are not crazy or stupid, we are judging by results.
I didn’t expect Trump to be a good President. He has surprised me beyond my wildest dreams. His actions have undone a lot of the damage done by the previous administration. He has fulfilled the broken promises of multiple American administrations. Over and over he has spoken out against Jew hate – in America and abroad.
To him I say, thank you Mr. President.
To everyone else I say, if you support a policy or a politician that puts my life and that of my family in danger, I have a problem with you. If you are Jewish and you do that, you deserve the title of “disloyal Jew.”
You are being disloyal to ME. My family. My friends. My neighbors.