Sunday, September 1, 2019

What Donald Trump Will Never Understand About Jews

President Trump is well aware that the vast majority of American Jews voted against him and are loyal to the Democratic Party. He is well aware that the vast majority of the Jewish members of Congress are Democrats. The idea that the Democratic Party stands against Israel is certifiably false. Regardless of how you feel about Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar—I find them contemptible, not least for lying to Jewish voters during election season about their views on a two-state solution and BDS—they are two junior members of the Democratic Party.  They do not represent the majority, or even a sizable faction within the party.  
Indeed, last week over 40 of their peers, freshman Democrats, visited Israel. Yossi Klein Halevi described them as a diverse group of policymakers who were empathetic to Israeli security concerns and excited to be there. When we talk about party leadership the lie becomes even more obvious. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the extremely powerful House Appropriations Committee; Hakeem Jeffries, likely the next speaker of the House and the highest ranking African American in the House; Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, all have impeccably pro-Israel records.  The notion that the Democratic Party supports cutting foreign aid to Israel is laughable—especially considering that the last person in Congress to actually block aid to Israel was a Republican
In fact, if you’re looking for something that a big number of Jewish Democrats agree on, it’s the investigation of Trump’s alleged crimes: Nearly half the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are Jewish—including Chairman Jerry Nadler. 
No. What’s really happening here is not just irresponsible; it’s purposeful. The president thrives on fear. He hopes that by dividing America and frightening America he will win. And so he engineered this political moment. He pressured Prime Minister Netanyahu to make the wrong call so he could reap the political rewards. He created this political moment so he could call the majority of American Jews disloyal. He can’t make the case for us to vote for him on merit, so he resorts to bullying us. 
Now we must grapple with how to respond to this terrifying moment.  
Let’s start by being honest with ourselves. As hard as this is to accept, it’s simply a reality that whole swaths of the American political establishment are treating us like morons. Like we couldn’t possibly believe that Omar’s rhetoric is anti-Semitic and Trump’s rhetoric is also anti-Semitic. As though we couldn’t possibly be nuanced enough to be furious at both these few members of the House as well as the president. As though we couldn’t recognize both the left and the right have anti-Semitism problems. Be furious at BOTH. Demand better from BOTH. Look at your side of the aisle and raise hell—that is what you owe your people, your tribe; not lockstep agreement or partisanship, but the courage and conviction to demand the very best from those you vote for, volunteer, donate to, identify with. I want to see you at every town hall, meet-and-greet, and advocacy day demanding that those who are asking for your vote fight rising anti-Semitism always, not just when politically useful. 
To that end, I want to say that I am profoundly disappointed not a single Democrat condemned Omar and Tlaib sharing a deeply anti-Semitic cartoon drawn by the second place winner of Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, Carlos Latuff. I encourage all of you to reach out to Democratic leaders in your community and express your anger, dismay, and disappointment at their silence—and tell them you demand better if they want your vote.  

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