“They hate their religion and everything about Israel.” Anger among American Jews because of Trump’s statements

Since the beginning of his political career, former US President Donald Trump has played on stereotypes about Jews and politics. “You want to control your politicians,” he told the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015.

At the White House, he said that Jews who vote for Democrats are “very disloyal to Israel.” Two years ago, the former president hosted two anti-Semites for dinner at his Florida residence.

This week, Trump accused Jewish Democrats of being “disloyal to their religion and to Israel.”

His opponents accused him of promoting anti-Semitic tropes, while his defenders pointed out that he was presenting a fair political point of view in his own way.

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, said Trump is taking advantage of tensions within the Jewish community. “For people in the Jewish community who hate Donald Trump, this statement will certainly reinforce their feeling that they don’t want to have anything to do with him.” “For people in the Jewish community who love Donald Trump, they may have nodded their approval,” he added.

“For many Jewish leaders in demographics that overwhelmingly identified as Democrats and supported President Joe Biden in 2020, Trump’s recent comments have reinforced harmful anti-Semitic stereotypes, portraying Jews as having divided loyalties and that there is only one right way to be Jewish,” he added. “Religiously.”

“This escalation in rhetoric is very dangerous, divisive and very wrong,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish religious denomination in the United States. “This is a moment when Israel needs more bipartisan support.”

But Matt Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the former president’s comments should be heard in the context of the war between Israel and Gaza and Democratic criticism of the state of Israel.

“What the president was saying in his unique style was giving voice to the things I ask about several times a day,” Brooks said. Adding, “How can the Jews remain democratic in light of what is happening?”

He claimed that the Democratic Party “is no longer the pro-Israel bastion it once was.”

Trump’s comments came on the heels of a speech by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the country’s highest-ranking Jewish official. Schumer, a Democrat, last week strongly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza. Schumer called for new elections in Israel and warned that civilian casualties were harming Israel’s global standing.

“Any Jewish person who votes for Democrats hates their religion,” Trump said Monday, adding on a talk show, “They hate everything about Israel.” A series of Jewish voices, from Schumer to the Anti-Defamation League to religious leaders, denounced Trump’s comments.

In a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday, the Trump campaign supported his comments, criticizing Schumer, congressional Democrats’ support for the Palestinians and the Biden administration’s policies on Iran and aid to Gaza.

Carolyn Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said, “President Trump is right.” As for Jeffrey Hurt, an expert on anti-Semitism at the University of Maryland, he does not agree with Schumer’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza, but he believes that most Democrats support Israel, and he said that Biden’s term The second will be better than Trump’s second term.

“If (Trump) loses the 2024 election, his comments pave the way for blaming the Jews for his defeat,” Hurt said, adding, “The clear result will be to fan the flames of anti-Semitism and confirm that the Jews are guilty once again.”

Sarna saw Trump as trying to appeal to politically conservative Jews, especially the small but rapidly growing Orthodox segment, who see Trump as a defender of Israel.
About 10% of US Jews are immigrants, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center report.

Sarna said large numbers are conservative. Meanwhile, Democrats face tension between their Jewish constituency, which is mostly pro-Israel, and their progressive wing, which is more pro-Palestinian.

Sarna said that while it may seem strange to focus so much attention on subsections of a minority population, “elections in America are very close, and every vote matters.”

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said Tuesday on his podcast that Trump “was making the point, frankly, that Jews who vote Democratic don’t understand the Democratic Party.”

Shapiro, who practices Orthodox Judaism, said the party “condones anti-Semitism” within its ranks. Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of Torah, a rabbinical human rights organization, said Trump has no interest in dictating who is a good Jew.

“By insinuating that good Jews will vote for the party that is best for Israel, Trump is invoking the old anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty — the accusation that Jews are more loyal to their religion than their country and therefore cannot be trusted,” she said.

“Historically, this accusation has fueled some of the worst anti-Semitic violence,” she added. During his time in office, Trump’s policy “of supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu and the settler agenda has endangered Palestinians and Israelis and made achieving peace more difficult,” Jacobs said.

Pittsburgh-based journalist Beth Kiselev, whose husband, a Conservative rabbi, survived the country’s deadliest anti-Semitic attack in 2018, said it was deeply insulting for Trump to be a “self-appointed arbiter” of how to be Jewish.

“Chuck Schumer had every right to say what he said,” she added. She continued, “Just because we are Jews does not mean that we agree with everything the (Israeli) government does. We have sympathy for the lives of innocent Palestinians.”

Brooks, of the Republican Jewish Coalition, defended the former president against accusations of anti-Semitism, pointing to his presidential record as an example.

Trump pursued policies that were popular among American Christian Zionists and Israeli religious nationalists, including moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and supporting Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. As for his daughter, Ivanka, she converted to Orthodox Judaism, and her husband and their children are Jewish.

The couple served as prominent voices for the Jewish community during the Trump administration. Trump’s primary supporters include white evangelicals, many of whom believe the modern state of Israel fulfills biblical prophecy. Prominent evangelicals who support Zionism have also been criticized for their inflammatory statements about the Jewish people.

69% of Jewish voters in 2020 supported Biden, while 30% supported Trump, and this made Jewish voters among the religious groups where support for Biden was strongest. Also, 73% of Jewish voters in 2020 said that Trump was very tolerant of extremist groups.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson said Trump’s comments fall into a “complex area” that is not explicitly anti-Semitic, but relies on such tropes.

“American Jews build their votes on a complex mix of issues and values, “among them inclusion, diversity, climate change and civil rights,” added Artson, a leader within Conservative Judaism. “While they love Israel diversely, many of us also care about the well-being of Palestinians and the “Their fate.”

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