Donald Trump is yet again spewing gross, dangerous antisemitism to his tens of millions of followers, and yet again, he is doing it while claiming to be a “friend to the Jews”. Earlier today, Trump took to his social media platform “Truth Social”, stating “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — before it is too late!”
While lamenting that he does not feel appropriately “appreciated” by American Jews for his claim that he has “done more for Israel” than any other president, Trump tells us unflinchingly both that his politics toward Israel were always transactional, and that Evangelical Christians, not Jews, have always been the party on the other end of the transaction.
American Jews love Israel. Poll after poll confirms that the vast majority of Jews in America are committed Zionists who see Israel as an intrinsic part of their Jewish identities. We are grateful for every policy, pursued by any politicians of any party, that makes Israel safer and more prosperous.
But Donald Trump continues to remind us that he doesn’t see American Jews as Americans.
That he doesn’t understand our love of America, our enduring commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world, or to liberal principles and values that are the bedrock of every society in which our people have been safe. When he makes statements that suggest that American Jews need to be “more loyal to Israel,” he is invoking and perpetrating an age-old antisemitic canard that has been used to otherize and alienate Jews from the communities in which we lived, and imply that we are more loyal to “Jewish interests” or some “higher Jewish power” than to the “host countries” in which we live, work, and vote.
Canards like “dual loyalty” have, throughout history, led to and justified violence and bloodshed against Jewish individuals and communities around the globe. Every time someone with a massive platform, whether Donald Trump, Kanye West or anyone else makes these claims, the tropes become more and more accepted by society and internalized by its members––and Jews become less and less safe.
This is not the first time that Donald Trump has trafficked in antisemitic tropes. One may recall his comments about how Israel used to have “absolute power over Congress,” and his accusation that American Jews who vote for Democrats are “very disloyal to Jewish people [and] very disloyal to Israel.” He told a room of Jewish Republicans that “the only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day,” and another room of GOP donors that “You won’t support me because I don’t want your money.” During his 2016 campaign, Trump ran an ad attacking a “global power structure” showing images of George Soros, Janet Yellen, and Lloyd Blankfein, with an ominous voiceover about them comprising a “global power structure” that has “robbed our working class” and “stripped our country of its wealth.” One of Trump’s tweets aimed at Hillary Clinton (“Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”) deployed images of the six-pointed Star of David and stacks of cash.
Trump’s never-ending antisemitism is tired and exhausting. It doesn’t matter whether he “hates Jews” or “loves Jews”––what matters is that his words are endangering Jews.
At Zioness, we work hard to ensure that American Jews––who identify overwhelmingly as progressive and Zionist––have a political and activist home, and a space where they can declare and act on their commitment to these mutually supportive, intersecting and intrinsic values and identities. We implore our community to remember that anyone who uses Israel, Jewish safety or the Jewish vote as a political football is endangering our community––not behaving as our friend.