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When Jews stopped being American

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The New York Times reports, “Trump to Sign Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses”:

The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, to trigger a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students, according to the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the matter before the announcement.

Zionists may imagine that this is to their advantage. For anti-Zionists, it is an example of what was foreseen and then experienced by Jews around the world as the political Zionist movement took root.

From Edwin Montagu to Rabbi Elmer Berger to American Jewish Committee presidents Joseph Proskauer and Jacob Blaustein, the conflation of the ethnic and faith identity of Judaism (already a difficult combination) to a nationality was seen as a long-acting poison.

Montagu wrote to his fellow UK Cabinet members in 1917 — when considering issuing the Balfour Declaration — that “Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed…”

I assert that there is not a Jewish nation. The members of my family, for instance, who have been in this country for generations, have no sort or kind of community of view or of desire with any Jewish family in any other country beyond the fact that they profess to a greater or less degree the same religion. It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation: of the same race, perhaps, traced back through the centuries – through centuries of the history of a peculiarly adaptable race….

“When the Jews are told that Palestine is their national home, every country will immediately desire to get rid of its Jewish citizens,” Montagu continued, “and you will find a (Jewish) population in Palestine driving out its present inhabitants, taking all the best in the country, drawn from all quarters of the globe…”

When the Times broke the story, Jewish- and Palestinian-American Twitter-sphere erupted. “American Jews” and “Judaism” became top Twitter topics. Some examples:

Reaction on twitter to Trump’s acceptance of an antisemitism definition defining Judaism as a nationality.


Reaction on twitter to Trump’s acceptance of an antisemitism definition defining Judaism as a nationality.


Last Saturday night, Trump’s speech to a pro-Israel group in Hollywood, Florida, was headlined by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “President Donald Trump slammed American Jews who he said did not sufficiently ‘love Israel.’” Speaking to the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019, Trump said (per the White House transcript):

So many of you voted for people in the last administration. Someday you’ll have to explain that to me, because I don’t think they liked Israel too much.  I’m sorry.  (Applause.)  I don’t think they liked Israel too much….

We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more.  I have to tell you that.  We have to do it.  We have to get them to love Israel more.  Because you have people that are Jewish people, that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.  You know that. You know that.  (Applause.) …

A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers. (Laughter.) Not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me; you have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. (Laughter and applause.) You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax..

Trump proposes an older, European and Arab model of tolerance for Jews as protected outsiders, if they support the rulers and perform financial functions for them in the society.

A reward offered is American support for Jews’ “real” home country, Israel. That is why Trump is so disturbed by American Jews who do not sufficiently “love Israel.”

That the Jewish “nationhood” proposition is being promoted by the Trump regime — known for anti-American intolerance and general malignance — is a final endorsement, an anti-hechsher (anti-koshering) one might say, to Jewish nationalism.

The partnership of Trump and Jewish nationalists is contrasting with the expansive, embracing, tolerant American creed. The intersectionality of Trumpism and Zionism is fortuitous, one might say, for clarity.

Abba Solomon

Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein's Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.’” His website is

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8 Responses

  1. JWalters on December 11, 2019, 8:07 pm

    This is SO over the top, it’s almost as if Trump want to put a spotlight on this idiocy.

    • eljay on December 12, 2019, 8:04 am

      || JWalters: This is SO over the top, it’s almost as if Trump want to put a spotlight on this idiocy. ||

      I think Trump is happy to help Zionists anti-Semitically conflate all Jews with their hateful and immoral ideology and their colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist construct for at least three reasons:
      – he believes he is fulfilling some sort of glorious prophecy;
      – he envisions being immortalized and praised for the rest of human history; and
      – he expects to be generously rewarded for his efforts and loyalty.

      With Trump, it’s all about ego and benjamins, baby!

  2. James Canning on December 12, 2019, 8:15 am

    Yet another step forward in the continuing effort by fanatical Zionists to suppress free speech in the US, to benefit Israel. Dangerous, and of course thoroughly grotesque.

  3. Vera Gottlieb on December 12, 2019, 8:52 am

    “Anti Semitism”…it sticks to anything better than any glue or scotch tape.

  4. Misterioso on December 12, 2019, 9:38 am

    “Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews,” by Paul Krugman, New York Times, Dec. 9/19

    “There are things more important than your tax rate.”

    “On Saturday Donald Trump gave a speech to the Israeli American Council in which he asserted that many in his audience were ‘not nice people at all,’ but that ‘you have to vote for me’ because Democrats would raise their taxes.

    “Was he peddling an anti-Semitic stereotype, portraying Jews as money-grubbing types who care only about their wealth? Of course he was. You might possibly make excuses for his remarks if they were an isolated instance, but in fact Trump has done this sort of thing many times, for example asserting in 2015 that Jews weren’t supporting him because he wasn’t accepting their money and ‘you want to control your politicians.’

    “Well, it’s not news that Trump’s bigotry isn’t restricted to blacks and immigrants. What is interesting, however, is that this particular anti-Semitic cliché — that Jews are greedy, and that their political behavior is especially driven by their financial interests — is empirically dead wrong. In fact, American Jews are much more liberal than you might expect given their economic situation.

    “This is, by the way, a distinction they share with some other groups, especially Asian-Americans. More on that in a minute.

    “First, some background. The two major political parties in the U.S. really are very different in their policies toward the rich. President Barack Obama was hardly a radical, but when he left office the average federal tax rate on the top 1 percent was 5 percentage points higher than it had been under George W. Bush. In 2016 Trump claimed that he wouldn’t do the usual Republican thing and cut taxes on the rich while trying to destroy the safety net. But he was lying.

    “And despite what right-wing pundits like to claim, high-income Americans are in general much more likely than others to support the Republican Party. In last year’s midterms, 52 percent of voters with incomes over $200,000 voted Republican, compared with only 38 percent of voters with incomes under $50,000. The rightward tilt is especially strong at the very top; although there are a few high-profile liberal billionaires, most of the extremely wealthy are also extremely right-wing.

    “Given these realities, you might expect American Jews, who are in fact considerably more affluent than the average, to lean right. But they don’t. In fact, only 17 percent of them voted Republican last year.

    “In other words, American Jews aren’t the uniquely greedy, self-interested characters anti-Semites imagine them to be. But it would be foolish to make the opposite mistake and imagine that Jews are especially public-spirited; they’re just people, with the same virtues and vices as everyone else. I think it was an Israeli friend who first told me that Judaism, unlike other faiths, has rarely been a religion of oppression — but that the reason was simply lack of opportunity, a diagnosis that recent Israeli governments seem determined to confirm.

    “An aside: American Jews almost all support Israel, but many don’t support the policies of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But that’s presumably a distinction Trump doesn’t understand, at home or abroad.

    “Back to the question of what makes U.S. Jews politically different. Much of the answer is historical memory. Most of us, I think, know that whenever bigotry runs free, we’re likely to be among its victims.

    “The Trump administration is, beyond any reasonable doubt, an anti-democratic, white nationalist regime. And while it is not (yet) explicitly anti-Semitic, many of its allies are: ‘Jews will not replace us’ chanted the ‘very fine people’ carrying torches in Charlottesville, Va. You have to be willfully ignorant of the past not to know where all this leads. Indeed, it’s happening already: anti-Semitic incidents have soared (and my hate mail has gotten … interesting).

    “Jews aren’t the only people who have figured this out. Many Asian-American voters used to support Republicans, but the group is now overwhelmingly Democratic. Indian-Americans, in particular, are like American Jews: a high-income, high-education group that votes Democratic by large margins, presumably because many of its members also realize where white nationalism will take us.

    “In all of this, Republicans — not just Trump, but his whole party — are reaping what they sowed. Their strategy for decades has been to win votes from working-class whites, despite an anti-worker agenda, by appealing to racial resentment. Trump has just made that racial appeal cruder and louder. And one has to admit that this strategy has been quite successful.

    “But it takes, well, chutzpah, a truly striking level of contempt for your audience, to foment hatred-laced identity politics, then turn to members of minority groups and say, in effect, ‘Ignore the bigotry and look at the taxes you’re saving!’

    “And some of the audience deserves that contempt. As I said, people are pretty much the same whatever their background. There are wealthy Jews who are sufficiently short sighted, ignorant or arrogant enough to imagine that they can continue to prosper under a white nationalist government.

    “But most of my ethnic group, I believe, understands that Trump is bad for the Jews, whatever tax bracket we happen to be in.”

  5. Mooser on December 13, 2019, 1:55 pm

    “Stopped being Americans”? Why look at it that way? Isn’t it clear this Executive Order makes Jewish people something more than just Americans?

    • Talkback on December 13, 2019, 3:15 pm

      Now they are more equal than equal in the US, too.

      • Mooser on December 14, 2019, 12:04 pm

        “Now they are more equal than equal in the US, too.”

        I finally achieve my dream of getting on the Endangered Species list. (but only after Trump has gutted the EPA. Oh well, Azoy vert dos kichel tzekrochen! )

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