After decades of equivocation by his predecessors, President Trump transferred the American embassy to Jerusalem in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. And after Barack Obama’s secretive Iran deal freed up billions of dollars for terrorism and facilitated the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions, Trump decertified it and condemned Iran’s policies of global terror and regional destabilization.
This president has made a priority of fighting anti-Semitism in the United Nations and repairing an alliance torn apart by the most anti-Israel administration ever to occupy the White House. For the first time in years, the US has a leader who supports Israel as an ally and condemns Jew-hatred on the international stage.
Incredibly, however, the liberal establishment calls Trump anti-Semitic and blames him for an anti-Jewish wave that began during Mr. Obama’s tenure, and which comes from progressives and stealth Islamists and some of the politically-marginalized radical right.
President Trump clearly does not conduct himself like previous presidents. He can often sound combative and confrontational, and his gaffes and use of social media are considered hyperbolic and off-putting by many. However, personal style should not be confused with administration policy, especially when that policy has been good for Israel, her geopolitical standing in the Mideast, and issues that should matter to Jews.
Those liberal establishment figures who speak in quavering tones about Trump’s supposed anti-Semitism cannot identify any incidents to support their claim. The only “proof” they offer is his supposed affinity for right-wing extremists, whom he has explicitly rejected, and the conflation of his base with anti-Semitic hatemongers. However, his administration’s actions regarding Israel – including Ambassador Nikki Haley’s tough talk at the UN – tell a far different story from the narrative being peddled by his detractors.
The preoccupation of liberals with Trump’s alleged Jew-hatred seems disingenuous when contrasted against their silence during the Obama years, when violence and hate-crimes against Jews skyrocketed and anti-Semitic rhetoric flowed from the progressive and radical constituencies to whom Mr. Obama pandered. One could argue that Jewish progressives abdicated their moral authority when they ignored or excused Obama’s longstanding relationship with Jeremiah Wright, his associations with anti-Israel ideologues, his disrespectful treatment of Israel, and his administration’s complicity (by act or omission) in some of the most anti-Israel UN resolutions since the 1975 vote equating Zionism with racism.
Democrats are quick to blame current anti-Semitic trends on Trump, but are mute with respect to evidence suggesting that much of today’s Jew-hatred comes from the progressive left (including the BDS community, left-wing NGOs, and liberal college faculties) and Islamist front organizations masquerading as moderate.
They have no credible response to surveys indicating anti-Semitic attitudes are more prevalent among progressive Democrats than conservative Republicans, and that Republicans support Israel in far greater numbers. (A Pew survey earlier this year, for example, showed that only 27% of Democrats sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, compared to 79% of Republicans.) And despite contrary claims by Democrats, neo-Nazis are not behind the epidemic of harassment and violence against Jewish students on American college campuses. Everyone knows who is behind it.
Systemic anti-Semitism has infused western liberalism since its birth, as reflected by the undeniable Jew-hatred of early progressive icons like Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Baron d’Holbach, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Though many Jews adopted socialism or communism in nineteenth-century Europe, these ideologies were inherently anti-Semitic in their rejection of religion and nationalism – both hallmarks of Jewish identity – as societal evils. Their embrace by radicalized Jews was often the ultimate expression of pathological self-loathing.
Much of today’s anti-Semitism is enabled by progressives who blame Jews for engendering antipathy by refusing to abdicate their traditional priorities, including Israel. It is also exacerbated by those who interpret Jewish history as a universalist allegory to reinforce their own progressivism and who, ironically, use classical stereotypes to belittle Jews who remain faithful to tradition or question progressive ideology.
There seems to be no shortage of liberal clergy and celebrities who apply Holocaust imagery to the immigration crisis on the US-Mexico border, for example, or who perceive every criticism of their agenda as genocidal fascism. It’s become fashionable to compare illegal immigrants at the southern border to stateless Jews who were transported to death camps during the Second World War.
This analogy, however, is inapposite and reprehensible. Whereas people coming over the border hope to improve their economic fortunes or escape often dire political realities at home, Jews during the Holocaust were trying to escape extermination. When progressives compare the fate of Anne Frank to Syrian refugees or illegal immigrants today, they draw ridiculous parallels that are dishonest and morally inappropriate.
Then there are those who compare Trump’s travel ban, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, to the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. The ban restricts travel from certain designated countries, six of which have Muslim majorities. Though liberal critics call it a “Muslim ban,” it does not apply to the vast majority of Muslim nations, and the Supreme Court accordingly found it to be religion-neutral.
Those who compare the travel ban to the Nuremburg Laws are disingenuous on two levels. First, they falsely claim it is predicated on religion. Second, they equate religious discrimination with the Nazis’ anti-Jewish racial laws, which had absolutely nothing to do with religious belief or practice. The Nuremberg Laws – modeled after anti-Jewish regulations enforced by the Catholic Church in the papal states – applied to everyone of Jewish ancestry, irrespective of whether they were observant, secular, or even baptized. The Nazis persecuted and exterminated Jews based on heritage and descent, not religious belief.
Those who accuse Trump of anti-Semitism... assert that Obama was a friend of the Jewish State... ldespite his longstanding associations with anti-Israel zealots, his disrespect for Israel’s leadership, his dismissal of her existential concerns, and his administration’s duplicity in the UN.
Interpreting the Holocaust as progressive metaphor insults the memory of its victims, minimizes Jewish suffering, and constitutes historical farce. Latin American immigrants are not leaving their homes to escape genocide and are not being deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to be exterminated in their homelands, as were Jewish Holocaust refugees who were barred from American shores by the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Likewise, the travel ban is not stripping anybody of civil rights as the Nuremburg Laws did to Jews in Nazi Germany. Whereas the Nuremburg Laws paved the way for genocide, the travel ban constitutes a tool for screening out terrorists.
Moreover, comparing the immigration crisis or travel ban to the Holocaust trivializes it in a way that shows a failure to understand its antecedents and aftermath. The “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” represented the culmination of two millennia of Christian and European anti-Semitism. It was not a political consequence of Germany’s immigration, economic, or national security policies, and was not analogous to any other hatred.
Though other peoples and minorities suffered greatly under the Nazis based on religious, political, or racial/ethnic grounds, no other group was targeted to the same degree. The Jews were singled out as racial inferiors, social degenerates, corrupters of European culture, international manipulators, and eternal enemies of the German people and humanity. No other group was so thoroughly vilified and dehumanized.
The effort to reinterpret the Jewish experience as progressive myth is nothing more than an exercise in historical revisionism, the most outspoken proponents of which include those who deny the Holocaust, promote a Palestinian myth that repudiates Jewish history, or liken the so-called “Nakba” to the Final Solution. Perhaps more insidious are those who appear moderate and project the image of alternative rationality.
One kind of historical revisionism, also called “negationism,” attempts to change history based not on new evidence or interpretations, but on political ideology, advocacy or, in Israel’s case, rejectionist bias. Negationists today include those who claim that:
(a) Jews are colonial interlopers in the Mideast;
(b) Israel was created on the ruins of a country called Palestine; and
(c) indigenous Palestinian culture existed for thousands of years before being uprooted.
These assertions, however, are false and incompatible with the historical and archeological records - and are motivated by ignorance and hatred.
Negationist revisionism can be wielded to misrepresent current events as well as ancient and modern history. This explains how those who accuse Trump of anti-Semitism without proof can also assert that Obama was a friend of the Jewish State and her people – despite his longstanding associations with anti-Israel zealots, his disrespect for Israel’s leadership, his dismissal of her existential concerns, and his administration’s duplicity in the UN.
Clearly, revisionism feeds delusion.
As politically-involved citizens, American Jews can agree or disagree with President Trump as their consciences and politics may dictate, and they are free to debate his policies, priorities, communication style, and personality. But justifying partisan hatred for the man based on unfounded claims of anti-Semitism is dishonest and revisionist, and in a larger sense distorts the meaning and integrity of Jewish history.