Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic ‘dual loyalty’ trope was actually a threat (Updated)

0
281

Earlier this year, the Republican Jewish Coalition, which receives substantial funding from corrupt casino mogul and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, strategized what they called a “Jexodus” of Jewish voters from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party “with an aggressive campaign painting Trump — who has himself faced accusations of stoking anti-Semitism as an [unquestioning] and unapologetic defender of the Jewish state” — or more accurately, an unquestioning and unapologetic defender of Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud Party coalition. Pro-Trump Republicans plan big-money play for the Jewish vote in 2020:

The administration is all-in on the strategy. On Saturday, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and three White House officials — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and Avi Berkowitz — all made pilgrimages to the Venetian, where RJC members were gathered for the third day of their annual spring conference. Before a sea of supporters waving “We are Jews for Trump” signs, the president accused Democrats of opposing Israel and “advancing by far the most extreme, anti-Semitic agenda in history.”

When Trump says anti-Semitic, he is actually redefining the term to mean Democrats who are not unquestioning and unapologetic defenders of Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud Party coalition.

Even worse, Democrats elected three Muslims to Congress — two of whom, Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), are members of “The Squad” which the Trump campaign has selected for demonization with anti-Muslim bigotry in its racist campaign —  who are unapologetically critical of Netanyahu’s far-right policies. Oh, the horror!

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes today, Dear Israel: Please dump Netanyahu. Your friend, America. “On Sept 17, Israeli voters have a chance to remove the single greatest impediment to U.S.-Israel relations. This American hopes they take it.” Does this make Dana Milbank “anti-Semitic”? (Only under Trump’s partisan redefinition of the term).

Jews only account for about 2 percent of the U.S. population and have overwhelmingly supported Democrats in past elections.

Jewishvote

Of the 34 members of the 116th Congress who are Jewish, only 2 are Republicans. American Jews are overwhelmingly Democrats.

Religion116thCongress

Earlier this month, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee faced accusations of anti-Semitism for a fundraising letter that claimed Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and George Soros “bought” control of Congress for Democrats. Head of House GOP campaign arm accused of anti-Semitism after letter claiming Bloomberg, Steyer and Soros ‘bought’ control of Congress:

“These left-wing radicals essentially BOUGHT control of Congress for the Democrats,” the letter reads.

Soros and former New York mayor Bloomberg are Jewish, and Steyer’s late father was Jewish. Steyer is a Democratic candidate for president.

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called on Emmer to retract and apologize for the letter.

“Unlike the Republican Jewish Coalition, we have been willing to call out anti-Semitism wherever it may occur, including on our side of the aisle. We call on the Republican Jewish Coalition and Republican leadership to do the same thing.”

News of the letter signed by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) comes months after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made a similar claim in a now-deleted tweet.

McCarthy’s October tweet [bore] a similar message. In the tweet, McCarthy had shared a video that criticized the trio for trying to “buy” the midterm elections through their support of Democrats.

McCarthytweet

The tweet was sent Oct. 23 and deleted the next day.

McCarthy’s tweet came during a week when prominent Democrats across the country — including Steyer and Soros — were being targeted by pipe bombs. It also came days before a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack targeting Jews in U.S. history.

Months later, McCarthy defended the tweet, arguing that it had “nothing to do” with religion.

Republicans were unapologetic and rejected their own anti-Semitism, while focusing on accusing Democrats of anti-Semitism, real or imagined.

Which brings me to Donald Trump’s use of an anti-Semitic trope yesterday. Dahlia Lithwick explains that Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews:

Much as one tries to tune out his racist nonsense, sometimes it is impossible. At a press conference on Tuesday, President Donald Trump released a tirade of nonsensical statements after he was asked whether the United States should reconsider its policies toward Israel after the country refused entry to two Muslim American U.S. congresswomen. His reply? “I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” Trump said. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Media accounts suggest it wasn’t exactly clear to whom Jews voting for a Democrat would be disloyal, but in context it appears that he was suggesting that Jews owe their first loyalty to Israel and that any choice to defend Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—freshman Democrats who were first granted entry to Israel by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and then denied it after Trump suggested they be barred—is a choice not to defend Israel, where, according to Trump, Jews’ principal loyalty should lie.

Trump’s intervention in Israel’s foreign policy last week was decried by commentators across the political spectrum, regardless of their position on Tlaib and Omar’s support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. But Trump’s unmistakable invocation of a Jewish “dual loyalty” trope goes beyond his usual tendency to bully foreign allies in order to punish his personal foes. Indeed, it’s worth remembering that this trope is the exact sin for which Omar was initially tagged as an anti-Semite last spring—she had intimated in a tweet that Congress’ support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins, baby,” before, by way of apology, calling into question the “allegiance” of supporters of Israel. All of these remarks tap into a centuries-old anti-Semitic canard about the ways in which Jews can never be fully loyal to their homelands because they always place their religious loyalties first. To be sure, claims that “outsiders” and “others” can never be loyal to America have swept in Catholics and Muslims over time, but they will always have a special salience for Jews, dating back to the original fake news that was the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, used to cast doubt on Jewish “loyalty” for decades.

So when Trump claims that Jews have not just dual loyalties, but that, in fact, their primary loyalty lies elsewhere, it’s hard to ignore. IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish group that has been protesting Trump’s immigration policies, told Newsweek that “this is an explicit dual loyalty charge wielded by the President of the United States against 80% of American Jews who voted against him. It is not [merely] an antisemitic dog whistle—it’s a bullhorn to his white nationalist base.” Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, again attempting to decipher what exactly Trump was talking about, while knowing it was nothing good, told the Hill: “At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have increased—due to the president’s emboldening of white nationalism—Trump is repeating an anti-Semitic trope. If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being ‘loyal’ to him, then Trump needs a reality check.”

Trump really appears to be of the view that American Jews actually owe primary loyalty to Netanyahu and only secondary fealty to himself. It isn’t even the first time he’s said something like this. In April, Trump referred to Netanyahu as “your prime minister” when talking at a conference of Jewish Americans. In 2015, he told a room full of Jewish Republicans that “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money,” continuing, “You want to control your politicians, that’s fine.”

This emphasis on Jewish primary loyalty is even more pernicious than the dual loyalty claims that have been directed at Jews for generations. It is what Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017—the folks whom Trump once described as the “very fine people” on one side of the Unite the Right protest—were arguing for as well. They think Jews don’t belong in America because they have their own ethno-nationalist state.

Trump has been trying mightily to bring Jewish voters home to the GOP, but according to a Pew study, 79 percent of Jewish voters broke for Democrats in the 2018 midterm. So Trump’s charge that any Jews who vote for any Democrats are “disloyal” is an accusation against … the vast majority of American Jews. And not only is he imputing ill motives and un-Americanism to vulnerable minorities again, he’s doing so amid a climate of unprecedented personal fear and insecurity.

There has been a surge in anti-Jewish violence and threats across the country and the world. These remarks come just days after a pickup truck accelerated into Jewish protesters outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Rhode Island. The driver, an ICE employee, sent several protesters to the hospital. Trump didn’t tweet about this attack. But Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs did weigh in to say that the protesters “had it coming.” Which is of course, the terrifying other side of the coin: Jews who are not loyal, well, they deserve whatever they get.

As Steven Waldman notes in The Atlantic, “dual-allegiance charges go much further than offering a polite disagreement on policy. They imply not only that a group is un-American, but that its adherents have no agency. They cannot be patriotic, because they are thoroughly under the influence of a foreign power or code.” It’s a way of suggesting not just that one is an “other” but also that one is brainwashed, hypnotized, or lacking in moral agency as a result of nefarious foreign forces. It’s a suggestion that you are a pawn, and lucky to have a protector. This is a slur and a scandal in which the president of the United States is invoking an age-old, blood-soaked, anti-Jewish trope. And, ever the narcissist, Trump is also warning all American Jews that he will not protect them if they are disloyal to him.

This is the true import of what Trump meant by his statement. It was meant as a threat to American Jews. His Proud Boys marching and chanting “Jews will not replace us” will come for you if you do not support him.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his charge that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats are “disloyal”. He also went totally bonkers apparently suffering from a “God complex.” Trump smears more than 70% of U.S. Jews, then brag-tweets comparison to ‘King of Israel’:

Wednesday morning, Trump followed it up with a series of tweets thanking Wayne Allyn Root for praising him, quoting Root as having said that “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him… ….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense!”

Um, Jews do not believe in the Second Coming, that’s a Christian concept. Just sayin’.

Like he’s the King of Israel. Like he is the second coming of God. Trump heard someone say that and instead of rolling his eyes, he tweeted it like these rantings were something we all needed to hear. And who’s Wayne Allyn Root? He’s a conspiracy theorist who, like Trump, spent the Obama years as a birther. He pushed Seth Rich conspiracy theories. He said that the Las Vegas mass shooting, which turned out to have been committed by non-Muslim white guy Stephen Paddock, was “Clearly Coordinated Muslim Terror attack.” So at least we have a clear guide on how reliable Root’s assessment of Trump is.

Not yet done, Trump also asserted that “I am the Chosen One”:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared himself “the Chosen One” as he defended his administration’s actions in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

The president’s self-aggrandizing remark followed a string of criticisms aimed at his predecessors, whom he claimed had ignored China’s alleged malpractice on trade.

“This isn’t my trade war, this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

“Somebody had to do it,” the president said. He added, while looking to the heavens: “I am the Chosen One.”

Time for Vice President Mike Pence to convene the cabinet and to invoke the 25th Amendment. Grab the butterfly net and straight jacket, Mikey.




Leave a Reply