Trump and the Jewish Loyalty: Narrow Electoral Interests

The official state of Israel declined to comment on an accusation of treason by US President Donald Trump against the American Jews who vote for the Democratic Party.  His accusation came in comments about the two Democratic members of Congress Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, which Israel refused to allow them to visit Palestine /Israel though urged by Trump himself! On their side, Jewish groups in the United States were outraged by Trump’s comments. Some considered the remarks anti-Semitic, while others saw them as hiding narrow electoral interests. ‘Disloyalty’ as seen by Trump is taboo for American Jews who already accuse those who use it against them of anti-Semitism.

 American Jews, like other Americans, have different political opinions and priorities, but to see such a position from the highest elected office in the United States is something that has implications for the Jewish community in the United States. Loyalty is a concept promoted mainly by white nationalists and is a manifestation of anti-Semitism that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the countries in which they reside. This was not the first time Trump referred to ‘disloyalty’.  In May, when he met with members of the Jewish Republican Alliance, the American Jewish establishment advocating US-Israeli relations, he openly said, “I spoke to your prime minister, Netanyahu.” In other words, it is an explicit declaration that he does not recognize US Jews as American.

 Many experts on American affairs point out that Jews have penetrated the Democratic Party as a party of immigrants, largely identifying with its democratic vision and its treatment of rights and minorities, unlike the Republican Party which did not welcome them when they came to the United States. According to the Pew Research Centre, “71% of American Jews voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and their voting percentage for Democratic candidates for the 2018 congressional elections-two years after Trump’s rule- rose to 79%.” A recent study by the Centre found that “Protestant evangelicals are more supportive of Trump’s policies than American Jews. 42% of American Jews believe that Washington supports Israel too much. Among evangelical Protestants, 72% say they think Trump strikes the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians, and just 15% say Trump favours the Israelis too much.“ Moreover, is to be remembered that Trump received 58% of Protestant votes against 39% for his rival, and Trump’s support rose to 81% among Evangelicals, compared to 16% for Clinton.”

Many have attacked Trump’s remarks, since many Jews see them as the phrase “used by all anti-Semites since the Middle Ages to question the loyalty of Jewish nationals to the state in which they live.  “It is dangerous and a shame that President Trump attacks the vast majority of the American Jewish community and calls them stupid and betraying,” said J Street, a liberal Jewish lobby. “But it is not surprising that the president’s deceptive racist attacks on progressive, colourful women in Congress now move into a distortion that targets Jews,” the group added. In more criticism, Senator Bernie Sanders who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential election said: “My message to Trump is: I am a Jew, I am proud and I have no worries about voting for Democrats.” Joe Biden, former US Vice President and favourite candidate to beat Trump in the presidential election, described the remarks as “degrading and unjustified,” and urged him to stop the division between the Americans. Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke said: “The Jewish people don’t need to prove their loyalty to you (Trump) or anyone else,” while The American Jewish Committee called on the President to “stop such a divisive speech and to retract his disgruntled remarks.”  In a further reaction, Israel Policy Forum announced: “We reject President Trump’s comments about ignorance and betrayal among American Jews. The President’s words are appalling, but not surprising given his record of indecent statements, as well as his efforts to benefit from Israel as a decisive issue in American politics.”  Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Action Centre Reform Judaism, wrote:  “Claiming that Jews are not faithful to the exercise of the right to vote is irresponsible and dangerous. Political and religious freedom is a hallmark of this nation and protects people of all faiths

“. The Rabbi addressed President Trump: “Stop using the Jewish community to score political points.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “When Trump uses a description that has been used against the Jewish people for centuries and has had serious consequences, he intentionally or unintentionally encourages anti-Semitism throughout the country and the world, enough!”

When Trump says that any Jews who vote for Democrats are showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” he strengthens the forces of intolerance. All the racist practices and crimes that have occurred since he took office in more than a state, has become an irresolvable problem based on total racism against minorities with cultural diversity. The American society is undergoing transformations that touch on the essence of the future of the United States and the path that its society will proceed on, while its populist president is indifferent with racism that fuels hatred among Americans.