Trump: Pro-Israel and Yet Anti-Semitic
Trump’s supporters fear diversity and complexity. They want simple answers and simple solutions. That’s bad news for Jews in the US.
- U.S. evangelicals, for all their presumed love of Israel, are as anti-Semitic as white supremacists.
- Don’t bet that Trump’s deportation machine won’t turn on American-born Jews if things go wrong.
- Religious conservatives too see modernity as the enemy, thus agree with with Trump’s fascist movement.
Jewish community leaders in the United States and elsewhere often equate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism.
How Trump breaks with history
It has taken Donald Trump just one month to turn this assertion on its head. He has done so by pushing into the (Presidential) mainstream what has been a long-standing view on the right-wing fringe in the United States States — that you can be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic at the same time.
The movement which chose Trump as its flag-bearer represents a rebellion against the modern world with its diversity, multiculturalism, globalization and advanced science.
It is nothing new: a similar revolt against modernity was seen in Europe in the 1930s and in the Soviet Union in the early 1950s. Invariably, such reactionary movements turn upon diaspora Jews because Jews are closely associated with the concept of modernity.
Even if Trump, as he often claims, were indeed “the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen,” the movement he heads certainly hates diaspora Jews. The way things have gone in Trump’s first month, he may not be able to control the tiger he has been riding so gleefully.
It doesn’t help the Jewish cause with that constituency that modern societies have been largely shaped by the Jewish struggle for emancipation, acceptance and equality.
The original “globalists”
Jews became the first major group that managed to preserve its own separate identity. Jews were – and are — an integral part of modern nations, yet a distinct one as well.
What irks right wingers greatly is that all modern societies now consist of such diverse and overlapping groups, each with its own form of self-identification, rules and agendas.
Too liberal, too
None of that makes Jews a favored group by Breitbart readers – or by Steve Bannon, for that matter. In fact, they might be tempted to label Jews as the original “globalists.”
It doesn’t help the Jewish cause with the Trumpists either that diaspora Jews are one of the most liberal groups in society. In fact, while a majority of whites voted for Trump in 2016, Jews remained Democratic by a wide margin.
When Hitler attacked the Jews, he was riding an ancient prejudice whose roots reached back into the Dark Ages. But Hitler’s anti-Semitism had clear ideological underpinnings as well.
A virus to nationalists
Fascism yearned for a pre-modern social structure organized to resemble a family or a clan, where the citizenry were homogenous, didn’t need a complex system of checks and balances and acted for the good of the nation as it was defined by its patriarchal leader.
Jews were not only seen as an alien presence in such nation but, worse, they were blamed for the virus of modernity, encompassing such terrible things as Jewish capitalism, Jewish modern art, Jewish science, etc.
Wipeout in Stalinist Russia
After World War II, Stalin also turned against modernity and toward Russian nationalism and leader-worship. He revived some features of the Russian Empire while suppressing all expressions of modernity – not just in art and culture, but in science, as well, as epitomized by genetics, computer science and nuclear physics.
Those sciences were banned, prominent researchers with a worldwide reputation were killed or jailed and charlatans and morons took their place.
Whether Stalin always despised the Jews or, like Trump, was “the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen” in his earlier years, when disliking Jews was taboo in socialist circles, is open to debate.
Stalin concocted a plan to round up Jews all over the Soviet Union and to send them to the Far East. Fortunately for Soviet Jews, he died before he could put this plan into operation.
Stalin’s propaganda called Jews “rootless cosmopolitans” – a huge transgression against his insular state. Even before globalization became a major feature of the modern world, Stalin unerringly identified the Jews as the first globalized people.
His Soviet successors attacked Jews as Zionists – a thinly disguised accusation of double loyalty of a group that not only refused to assimilate fully, but revelled in its differences.
Trump vs. nuance
In the United States, still by some measures the most advanced nation on earth, the Trump government and the Republican Party have become the spearheads of a rebellion against modernity.
Trump’s supporters – not just the openly fascist alt-right, but many run-of-the-mill Americans who attend his rallies – fear diversity and complexity. They want simple answers and simple solutions.
They dream of returning to the neverland where everyone who mattered in America was white, spoke nothing but English and went to a Christian church.
They have no use for modern art and culture. They don’t like science, as evidenced by the climate change denial as well as attacks on objective truth and commonly recognized facts.
Religious conservatives find themselves fitting in with Trump’s fascist movement because they too see modernity as the enemy. Moreover, U.S. evangelicals, for all their presumed love of Israel, are no less anti-Semitic than white supremacists.
Their Dark Ages belief in the impending Apocalypse calls for all the Jews to be gathered in Israel before perishing in the struggle against forces of evil.
Not long before the election, I attended Ivanka Trump’s rally at a South Florida Jewish temple. Several hundred congregants were on hand, enthusiastically assuring her that they had all taken advantage of the state’s early voting to cast their ballots for her father.
When I asked the attendees whether they were at all nervous about the anti-Semitism that was riding Trump’s coattails, their rabbi responded that their main concern was the State of Israel, which they thought Trump would keep safe.
In other words, the fate of Jews in their own country was of secondary importance to them.
History teaches us that Jew-hatred, like racism, can spread like wildfire. The deportation force that Trump is assembling may well limit itself to two causes:
- Ferreting illegal immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean and
- Deporting Muslims from those Middle Eastern countries where the Trump Organization is not making money.
But don’t bet that Trump’s deportation machine won’t turn on American-born American Jews if things go wrong and the charismatic leader of an anti-modern movement requires a scapegoat.