Trump, Jews, and Nationality
The announcement that President Trump will sign an executive order to declare Judaism as a race “to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students,” according to a report in The New York Times is both laughable and dangerous.
It’s laughable in that it’s clear Trump is only doing this to stifle the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement right to free speech in opposing current Israel and American policy.
For those not familiar with BDS, it’s a pro-Palestine organization that promotes the social, religious, and civil rights of Palestinians. The organization is highly critical of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on aligning with far-right policies for occupation in the West Bank.
It also opposes Israel claim as reservedly their holy land, deeming Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Recently, American policy sided with Netanyahu that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and moved its embassy to the holy land, arresting anger from Palestinians and many American progressives.
Here’s the danger: Trump’s executive order is a warning threat to the BDS and anyone else (mostly the progressive left) that dares to support Palestinians and dares to disagree with conservative Christians over the holy establishment of Israel and the oppression of Palestinians.
Another important aspect to the executive order: It’s clear the executive order is a step up to Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) bill. “Combatting the BDS,” which asserted the right to punish companies who boycotted Israel. (Note: Twenty-six states have adopted similar measures to Rubio’s bill despite the concerns of violating the tenants of the first amendment.). Rubio’s bill ultimately didn’t pass in the Senate, but it didn’t lose its spark by Republican and centrist Democrats who constantly gripe about BDS, and often accuse progressives of being racist for criticizing certain aspects of conservative Israel policies.
The BDS is far from perfect, but anti-Jewish, in my opinion, they are not. Still, bigger than the BDS is the Trump administration need to force American Jews to accept Israel as their nation state. Paul Krugman recently wrote an op-Ed “Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews,” outlining and disparaging Trump for telling a group of Israeli American Council members during a speech that they had “no choice,” but to vote for him in 2020. How reckless of Trump to assume Jews owe allegiance to him because he unapologetically supports Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump clearly isn’t aware or doesn’t care that many American Jews dispute the current state of affairs in Israel. Also, American Jews are annoyed with constantly being pegged as Israel nationals when they’re American as apple pie.
Most responses that I’ve seen is backlash to the executive order:
Trump, far-right Jews, and Evangelicals are playing a dangerous game with equating Judaism with race. After all, Hitler believed the same and Jews ultimately met a genocidal fate.
The constitution keeps church and state separate for a reason, and it’s to avoid tropes such as Trump’s impending executive order. Trump may believe he is protecting Jewish people (already protected by the civil rights act), but in reality, he is serving them a plate of Stephen Miller and Steven Bannon philosophy.
I’ll end with this —
Jews are American. Jews are African. Jews are Indian. Jews are Asian. Jews are Australian. Jews are Canadian. Jews are biracial. Jews are Latin Americans. Jews are Central Americans. Jews are Islanders. Jews are Europeans. Jews are Israelites. Jews are Gypsies. Jews are Eskimos. Jews are whomever they want to be.
Judaism is not a race, it’s a religion. Just ask a Jew.
Photo credit: “President Trump at the Israel Museum. Jerusalem May 23, 2017 President Trump at the Israel Museum. Jerusalem May 23, 2017" by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem is licensed under CC BY 2.0