Trending Topics:

In the ‘NYT,’ fear of Trump’s police state

on 14 Comments

Some links sent to me in the last few hours, on Middle East-related topics.

Timothy Egan has a widely-read column up at the New York Times that connects Donald Trump’s threats to minorities with Charles Lindbergh’s threat to Jews in the 1930s. “I’m starting to have some dark fears should Donald Trump become president…. Donald Trump’s reign would be a police state.”

Trump promises to arrest, sort, and deport 11 million people — a number more than 25 percent higher than the entire population of New York City…. In practice, (imagine the viral videos) the new operation would prompt a million Hispanic Anne Franks — people hiding in the attics and basements of Donald Trump’s America.

To go with his Deportation Force, Trump would send another wave of federal authorities out to identify, track and monitor Muslims in America. All of them? He hasn’t said. He’s building his police state on the fly. But in just a few days he went from saying he would “strongly consider” closing houses of worship (mosques), to saying he would have “absolutely no choice” but to shut them down. As for tracking Muslims through some kind a database, he’s been squishy, but also unequivocal, saying, “I would certainly implement that.”

For those fleeing war and religious persecution from the butchers of the Islamic State, sorry if you’re Syrian — Trump would deport those already vetted refugees, mostly women and young children.

OTOH, the New Republic has published a pointless article by Phoebe Maltz Bovy about the dangers of associating the rejection of Syrian refugees with the rejection of Jewish refugees back when. She changes the subject, by turning the problem into a Jewish problem. Let’s not universalize the hatred against Jews, because that might mean forgetting that people hate us.

Consider the assumption that lies at the heart of the comparison: No one today would think to advocate for turning away Jews, right? To which I feel compelled to ask: Are we so sure? Nodding along to the analogy means, in a sense, agreeing that anti-Semitism is over, and that it’s simply been replaced by anti-Muslim bigotry. Which, no—there’s plenty of bigotry to go around!

The right response here is that of Norman Finkelstein’s late mother Maryla, who said the understanding she got from the camps was to decry genocide everywhere, not just the murder of Jews.

Talk about Jewish narcissism, Newsweek has published this piece by Marc Schulman from Tel Aviv saying that Israelis feel alone in their grief because President Obama has spoken of American victims of terrorism in France and Mali but “made absolutely no mention of Ezra Schwartz,” an American yeshiva student who was killed in Gush Etzion settlement last week. No one’s paying enough attention to Israeli victims of terror; and the press talks how many Palestinians Israel has killed, as if there’s an equivalence in the attacks.

On Sunday even this publication (Newsweek) sent out a tweet that would anger any Israeli reader – “Three Palestinians killed in attacks on Israelis as stabbings, shootings and car rammings continue in West Bank.” While the text of this tweet is totally accurate (and similar to many headlines in the press), a quick read first conveys the fact that Palestinians were killed, and only after that the fact that the three Palestinians were killed while trying to kill Israelis.

Of course Schulman does not utter the word occupation. Schwartz was killed in an illegal settlement in the West Bank. That hardly justifies his murder; but as Henry Siegman wrote in the Nation, continuing to deny Palestinians any rights is going to produce violence. That’s how human beings respond.

Being an optimist, I see Schulman’s rage as a sign that the Palestinian narrative is finally getting into the American press. Ordinary people in the U.S. are aware that Palestinians haven’t been treated at all fairly, for decades now.

On that note, here’s an op-ed by Yousef Munayyer in the LA times, puncturing an Israeli’s argument in the same newspaper that Palestinians, and Muslims generally, have some inherent “readiness to justify attacks on civilians,” and once again the media just doesn’t understand.

Munayyer makes the point that the Palestinian support for violence has obvious political causes.

In reality, it is the daily experiences Palestinians have dealt with at the hands of Israel for seven decades that have directly shaped their views on this issue. [Daniel] Polisar paints Palestinians as irrational creatures holding unjustifiable fears about Israeli intentions. He never mentions that the state of Israel has razed more than 400 Palestinian villages, effectively wiping most of the Palestinian presence off the map. He writes not a word about continued colonial expansion in the West Bank through policies of land appropriation, home eviction and house demolition. Palestinians have witnessed Israel take over most of the land they hold dear and destroy thousands of homes, hundreds of villages and their associated houses of worship — and Polisar implies that fears over Israeli intentions in Jerusalem are paranoid and irrational?

Polisar also bemoans Palestinian denialism, this notion of a rejection of a Jewish connection to the land of Palestine. Palestinian denialism, while existent and problematic, is a function of politics. If anything, there’s evidence to show that Palestinians did not deny the Jewish connection to the land until it was used to justify Palestinian dispossession after the creation of modern Israel in 1948. Anyone who looks at the holy books of Palestinians, including the Bible and the Koran, can clearly see Jewish connections to the land throughout…

What shapes Palestinians’ opinion about Jews, Israel and violence is their interaction with Jews, Israel and violence. For Palestinians who have lived under occupation for nearly half a century and in refugee camps or as second-class citizens since 1948, those interactions have consistently resulted in the denial of basic rights, including injury or death. The increasing militarization of Israeli society and the disturbing extremist political viewpoints more easily found in the country’s Parliament only make matters worse.

P.S. The decades-long persecution of Palestinians, licensed by the United States and American Zionists, is obviously a different issue than Trump’s threats against Muslims; and staying in the optimistic vein, I contend that Trump is going nowhere. Egan cites Philip Roth’s book, The Plot Against America, which imagined a Lindbergh presidency. That never happened; and I found the idea to be the self-involved fancy of someone who had experienced very little discrimination in his life. Which is not to say that Islamophobia is a lot like the waves of anti-Semitism in our country in the last century.



Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

14 Responses

  1. Marco on November 28, 2015, 2:11 pm

    Much of the Jewish intelligentsia and middle class opposition to Trump seems to echo the old WASPish antipathy towards Jewish politicians, namely that he’s of the wrong sort of people. Snobbishness of a similar sort motivates much of the media’s coverage of Christian conservatives. We’re dealing with an amalgam of sentiments which include liberal piety and progressive righteousness as well as patronizing superiority and self-regard. You can oppose a man and his politician strain out of a combination of high and low motives, as is plainly the case here.

  2. Krauss on November 28, 2015, 3:57 pm

    Trump is absolutely a man of fascistic tendencies. Please understand that I’ve been a person who has rolled his eyes when liberals have described the Christian right as neo-Nazis with a cross. That was and is a laughable and pathetic line of “attack”. Trump is different. The man has no democratic understanding of liberal polity whatsoever.

    That all being said, Bovy’s whining about “let’s only think about the Jews” is horrible and, yes, racist. It’s essentially saying Jewish suffering matters more, which is what she thinks. It’s also what Schulman thinks, by refusing to mentioning the Apartheid that Palestinians live under.

    Finally, Roth, who I think you destroyed quite efficiently. The entire book just screamed of the worst kind of Jewish paranoia and self-induced neurosis when the man and his generation has de facto lived a hyperprivileged life. It’s yet another reminder of how his generation of Jews have essentially refused to become adults their entire lives and take responsibility for the power that the community has acquired, instead preferring eternal victimhood as a cozy blanket.

    I mean even to this day we get outraged attacks from Jewish centrist publications like Tablet for even discussing Jewish privilege. Since when did we become a community of petulant and hyper-privileged crybabies? That’s a rhetorical question of course, but seriously, I miss the Jewish philanthropists of old. The people who built thousands of black schools, helped fund the NAACP and were the backbone of the U.S. labor movement. Where did these people go? Now we have casino overlords and racist media moguls(whether it’s Saban or Sulzberger). Ugh. Progress faster!

    (I’m impressed by Jews in Silicon Valley but they aren’t very interested in Jewish affairs from what I can tell. Which is a shame, because I often miss their liberal influence. They could serve as a counter-weight to the endless racists, whether democrat or republican, that are dominating the conversation in the communal fold. Not to mention a donor-class equivalency which could effectively challenge the dominance of the bigoted cash. I mean can you imagine how amazing it would be to see Larry Page essentially destroy Adelson or Saban? I’d pay to watch that.)

  3. Citizen on November 28, 2015, 4:13 pm

    I see the GOP Establishment is concerned enough about Trump that they are now running attack ads indicating Trump’s akin to Hitler. When’s the last time both the Democratic & GOP Establishment did that to a contender? We will see how Trump decides to handle it all by Christmas. I think it’s already near the end time for turning to a third party run.

  4. can of worms on November 28, 2015, 4:54 pm

    [email protected] “but seriously, I miss the Jewish philanthropists of old. The people who built thousands of black schools, helped fund the NAACP and were the backbone of the U.S. labor movement.”

    Are these the same ‘philanthropists’ who helped the pro-Zionist NAACP and SCLC but quickly boycotted and tried to bring down CORE, SNCC, LRBW, the Panthers and any other organization that began to publicly support Palestinians?

  5. wondering jew on November 28, 2015, 4:56 pm

    “I found the idea to be the self-involved fancy of someone who had experienced very little discrimination in his life.” – See more at:

    If Phil Weiss had ever evinced an ounce of feeling for any anti Jewish discrimination anywhere in the world after the year 1945, his dismissal of Roth’s choice of topics for one work of his later fiction might ring a little truer. As is, it sounds like: Jews should never write anything about Jewish fears. The only response to Jewish fears is to assimilate (as Philip Roth in fact did) and forget about their roots (as Philip Roth did not). The only response to the Holocaust, Phil Weiss says, is the response that I endorse, a universalist one. Novelists who follow wherever their muse takes them: beware! Make sure your muse has no connections to the Jews.

    • Mooser on November 28, 2015, 6:55 pm

      “The only response to Jewish fears is to assimilate (as Philip Roth in fact did)”

      “Yonah” will you ever stop that “assimilation” nonsense? The fact is “Yonah” we don’t have any choice. The United States assimilates us as full citizens, the moment we are born.. To talk as if that was a choice, as if we are doing the US a big favor by being citizens, as if the US doesn’t freely grant to us what it has denied to so many others is ignorant and insulting.
      No, “Yonah” whatever gawd-awful stuff you do with your hair or what clothes you wear makes no difference.

      Yes, “Yonah” at one time people in the US could discriminate against Jews in matters of housing, employment, etc. Discrimination was legal then.

      • MHughes976 on November 29, 2015, 11:03 am

        To the extent that the society where you find youself accords political rights to all and does not discriminate (unless for good reason) against anyone then there must be merit in assimilating yourself to it and to its values.
        Fears are a legitimate literary subject, of course, even the remote and semi-fantastic fears which occur in science fiction or ghost stories – you may say that they are closer to reality than they look. Even if a writer sets out to sow fear and mistrust (s)he is not necessarily a bad writer. I thought Roth’s Jewish character who decides that Jewish people had never belonged in America – ‘we only thought we did’ – was rather moving. I’ve read some remarks by Roth praising the anti-Semitic Celine, which perhaps shows unprejudiced judgement. I don’t mean that Roth sets out to sow mistrust – his ultimate view is that anti-Semitism is anti- (not just un-) American.

      • wondering jew on November 29, 2015, 1:00 pm

        MHughes- Assimilating to American values (as embodied in the constitution and MLK rather than in the 2015-2016 campaign of Donald Trump or the September 1941 Des Moines speech of Charles Lindbergh) is a good thing. The term assimilated Jew usually refers to Jews who have tossed their Jewish identity into the dumpster (sounds a little messier than the ash heap of history). When someone Jewish writes: I came from a very assimilated family, it usually means they celebrated Christmas and not Passover and they certainly never stepped into a synagogue or learned to study Hebrew or Yiddish. There are certainly values that are much higher than the observance of Jewish ritual or the preservation of traditions or languages: democracy and equality and freedom are a few of those. Yet if one is careful (or choosy) one can assimilate the good values of America or modernism and still observe the Jewish laws with sufficient care to have the best of both worlds. There certainly is a richness involved in being culturally aware and educated in a tradition that has existed for thousands of years.

        (Let me raise a different point: Is there value in rejecting Christmas? As in: being outside of the circle of celebration during this festive season. Certainly being in opposition might train one to oppose the crowds and learn to be separate. Whether one can accomplish that without succumbing to a self concept of “chosenness” is a different question. But this is but one example of the type of rejection of assimilation to which I am referring.)

      • Mooser on November 29, 2015, 7:37 pm

        “When someone Jewish writes: I came from a very assimilated family, it usually means they celebrated Christmas and blah, blah, blah…”

        Oh no, it’s happening again! Every year at this time “Yonah” swallows a bottle of pilpuls and trips out, and every year he has a bum voyage over Christmas.

        “You are asking me to root for the disappearance of even a semblance of Jewish tradition and its replacement with Christmas and Easter. I refuse. – See more at:

        When it comes to Christmas and Easter, “Yonah’s” a “refusenik“!

        “Blue and white are Chanuka colors. Red and green are Christmas colors. What colors do you suggest to undo the Israel association?” – See more at:

        Mixed colors in a string of lights is forbidden by Leviticus!

        “Phil married a Christian and has a Christmas tree in his home” – See more at:

        Get a rope! And a chain saw! And rent a chipper.

        And I’ll stop here, (but there is plenty more) with this plaintive query:

        “Question to Phil, How can a Christmas tree Jew help the Jews fill their spiritual hole?” – See more at:

        There’s gotta be something we could do. If only “Yonah” could wake up to a full stocking on Dec 25th! Just think of it “Yonah” springing from his bed, hearing the chug-chug of an electric train downstairs, and shouting, “I knewRebbe Santa Klein wouldn’t forget me!”

  6. Mooser on November 28, 2015, 6:16 pm

    “Make sure your muse has no connections to the Jews.”

    But make sure your agent or publisher does.

  7. James Canning on November 30, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Those wondering why Donald Trump has so much appeal should read Ed Luce’s column in the Financial Times today.

    I think it would be a good thing for Israel, if most Americans begin to comprehend the damage to the US caused by Israel’s illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

  8. Rashers2 on November 30, 2015, 4:38 pm

    I assume, James Canning, you refer to Edward Luce’s “The rise of liberal intolerance in America”, for which I looked in “today’s” (30-11, its being already “tomorrow”, 1-12, in my time zone). According to, it was published on 29-11; I am not here to carp at your chronology but because searching “today’s” (30-11) for the article you cite led me to by Gideon Rachman, which is also worth reading and looks at the ascent of the nationalist right on both sides of the Great Pond.
    Luce is rightly critical of the political correctness which threatens academic and other freedoms. PC is a vexed issue for, whilst I abhor racial and other group pejoratives and stereotypes, PC is open to exploitation or abuse by political lobbies (e. g. the recent, many-fronted attempts at re-defining “anti-Semitism” and promoting legislation in accordance with such a new “definition”). It inevitably leads, as in Luce’s Woodrow Wilson illustration, to revisionism, which is anathema. In this context, Rachman’s quotation of Sen. Daniel Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” is particularly apt. Zionists are not unique in their failure to understand that the one thing which cannot be changed is the past and that trying to do so can have only negative effects on the future because decisions based on falsehood are likely to be worse than those based even on an imperfect understanding of the truth.

  9. Mayhem on March 10, 2016, 7:20 am

    Just read Munayer’s diatribe in the LA Times as referenced by Weiss in this article. Munayer, in classic Pallywag fashion claimed that “Polisar selectively picks snippets of polls that justify his claims about what Palestinians think and how those views present an obstacle to peace. He doesn’t bother to investigate why Palestinians hold those views; in doing so …”
    Munayyer doesn’t have the word ‘incitement’ in his vocabulary; he never mentions it in his LA Times article.
    Polisar actually addressed the topic head on in his article Why Do Palestinians Believe What They Believe? so for Munayyer to have suggested what he did reeks of avoidance syndrome – typical of Pro-Palestinian activists never willing to face up to their own responsibility for the demise of their own people ensnared in a political cause celebre, constantly playing the victim card, blaming others for the plight of so-called ‘Palestinians’. Never doing anything positive or constructive to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in the conflict by advocating for anti-normalization measures that make the predicament of ‘Palestinians’ much worse; a tactic to keep the anti-Israel fires burning in the hearts of ‘Palestinians’.

Leave a Reply