Attacks against Jews have been increasing over the last several years. So have attacks on Muslims.
Anti-Semitic attacks and harassment climbed 13% in 2018, including countries (like the United States where the Pittsburgh and New Jersey shootings occurred, Britain, France, and Germany) where intolerance towards Jews was thought to have virtually vanished.
Anti-Muslim attacks and harassment have also skyrocketed. There were 500 attacks on the Moslem Community from January to May 2019. That far exceeds the immediate post 9/11 period.
The words and deeds of the President of the United States have encouraged it.
This is the President (who remember was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan in 2016) that used Anti Semitic tropes of dual loyalty and greed to tell differing Jewish audiences that they should vote for him because he:
- Backed their Prime Minister in Israel.
- Will not tax them and take away their wealth like the Democrats, especially Elizabeth Warren would.
- Said Jewish Democrats were disloyal to Jews and Israel.
This is the President that used an Anti-Semitic ad against Hillary Clinton and a closing campaign commercial with Anti-Jewish overtones.
This is the President that said there were fine people on both sides of the Charlottesville Anti Semitic and Anti Immigrant rallies.
This is the President that has striven to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
What Mr. Trump did do was issue an Executive Order last week that orders colleges to combat Anti Semitic discrimination or face withdrawal of federal education funding.
The order, which does have bipartisan support and appears to be mostly a rehashing of an Obama Era policy, has several drawbacks. They are:
- It will not stem Anti Semitic Violence: The criminals that attack Jews or Jewish property on or off college campuses will not be intimidated by this Executive Order.
- It does nothing to protect Muslims, many of whom are Semites.
- The classification of Jews as a distinct nationality appears to draw on more Anti-Semitic tropes (like those in the Nuremberg Laws) labeling Jews as one of “The Other.”
- Restricts peaceful freedom of speech activities from groups that oppose Israelis settlement policies.
This Executive Order appears to be nothing more than an attempt to appease pro-Right Wing Pro-Settlement Israelis factions like the Presidents Son in Law Jared Kushner and Evangelicals Mr. Trump needs to turn out in 2020.
Like all of Mr. Trump’s deals, His Executive Order combatting Anti Semitism is high on hype but short on effect.
The left-leaning Jewish support organization J Street issued a statement on December 11 that relayed:
“This executive order, like the stalled congressional legislation it is based on, appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel. J Street is committed to fighting all forms of anti-Semitism — and we feel it is misguided and harmful for the White House to unilaterally declare a broad range of nonviolent campus criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, especially at a time when the prime driver of anti-Semitism in this country is the xenophobic, white nationalist far-right.”
“Kenneth S. Stern, the expert who drafted the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by this executive order, has publicly opposed its application to college campuses. In opposing the legislation that forms the basis for this executive order, Stern wrote in The New York Times that ‘If this bill becomes law…students and faculty members will be scared into silence, and administrators will err on the side of suppressing or censuring speech.”
“It is particularly outrageous and absurd for President Trump to pretend to care about anti-Semitism during the same week in which he once again publicly spouted anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money. The same right-wing groups who turn a blind eye to the president’s hateful rhetoric have promoted this executive order as part of a cynical push to turn the issue of anti-Semitism into a partisan political weapon, instead of seriously combating it in all its forms.”
Arizona Educator, Activist, Retired Attorney, and Constitutional Scholar Ruth Davis offered her views on Trump’s Executive Order:
“The German Nazis are the ones who popularized the notion that Jews were another “nationality” than other Germans. In many circles the same thinking had existed since the Middle Ages in Europe: for example, my paternal ancestors were never considered Polish although they lived in Poland for centuries. As Jews, they couldn’t “be Polish” by law. Because of their Biblical “nationhood” (based on religion), they could not be Polish citizens. The same was true in much of Europe when countries were defined not only by physical borders but by the religion of the majority of those people who lived there and had ancestral roots there. Judaism, in the modern world, is a religion, not a national identity, ESPECIALLY in the United States. I am an American, and no other nation defines my nationality. Why has it taken until now for the GOVERNMENT of the US to propose to protect us as a nation rather than a religion? Why not use the category we have always had as a protected class to protect us now? Why? Because this “reclassification” is another way to set us apart from our fellow Americans and underscore our perceived “difference” from the Christian majority. To what purpose? I am terrified to find out. I am a “real” American, equal with and identical to my Irish friends, my Italian friends, etc. Remember “separation of church and state”? Here’s why it’s an important concept. Right here. To me, this “nationality” label is exactly the opposite of what my America stands for…it’s chilling to say the least, and directly from Hitler’s playbook.”
Executive Orders designed to please the son in law and evangelical fanatics is not good policy.
Embracing tribalism and enabling intolerance and violent hatred towards others because they are different is not what this country is supposed to be about.
Mr. Trump would do well and turn a new leaf in the time he has left in office to heal and bring people together by embracing policies that bring people together (and truly combat Anti Semitism) and fostering a culture of inclusion rather than division.
He would be remembered well if he did that.
Featured Image from Voice of America