American Jews are disloyal to the anti-Semite in Chief
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On Aug. 20, President Donald Trump said in an interview, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
This type of language around “disloyalty” was used by the Nazis under Hitler as a way of silencing Jews and spreading anti-Semitism. It is now being used by the president against American Jews as a way of silencing those who have disagreed with his policies — and is, unquestionably, anti-Semitic.
The next day, the president doubled down on whom he felt we are disloyal to — a question that many American Jews had already answered for him on Tuesday, with the trending social media hashtag, #DisloyaltoTrump.
“In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to the Jewish people, and you’re being disloyal to Israel,” Trump said as he left the White House for an event in Kentucky.
Unfortunately, this is just one of his insults against minorities among a slew of demonizing language he has used to attack different communities of color, especially Latinos and minority religious groups, including Muslims and Jews.
If American Jews are “disloyal” to Trump, here’s why: When the president tries to define what makes Jews disloyal, he couldn’t care less about our American values of democracy. He instead supports the systems that continue the mistreatment of immigrants.
A few important points about our so-called “disloyalty” that President Trump has missed:
We are American, not Israeli. To equate American Jews with unconditional loyalty to Israel is inaccurate because we are loyal first and foremost to the country we live in and call home.
This isn’t the first time that Trump has used anti-Semitic language, but it especially stings because it’s a trope that’s been used against American Jews before, accusing us of either being too loyal or disloyal to Israel.
By stating that we are disloyal to Israel by supporting the Democratic party, it implies that we must vote Republican to be pro-Israel. It attempts to tell Jews they must always be loyal to Israel and assumes Republican Jews are already loyal while saying Democratic Jews are not.
President Trump further seeks to make Republican Jews look better than their Democratic partners and divides Jews, rather than celebrating democracy. Not to mention the fact that more than 75 % of Jews voted for the Democratic party in the midterm elections.
Trump’s version of “loyalty” defined by party lines is a threat to the democratic values that we cherish: freedom of expression, the ability to debate, and the right to vote according to our own political preferences and views. It values one party over another, rather than seeing the necessity of debate between both.
Since the end of June, American Jews, as part of the Never Again Action movement, have protested against the mistreatment of undocumented children and adults who are being held in detention centers. Hundreds have been arrested for protesting throughout the country.
On Thursday, Trump’s administration stated that they are planning to hold undocumented and asylum seekers indefinitely. Many of these migrants are fleeing violence in Central America, only to find that they are treated as criminals when they enter the United States. There have been reports of inhumane conditions, such as beds made out of tin foil and a lack of showers. USA Today recently reported that now children in detention centers won't be vaccinated for the flu.
Many American Jews are against the mistreatment of migrants, which they feel resembles concentration camps. I, like so many of my fellow American Jews, speak out to say: we will not put our pens down or our signs down and we will continue to march against ICE and injustice.
By referring to immigrants as invaders, President Trump has modeled his language on the language used by Nazis against Jews. Jews have also been viewed as invaders in the United States, when 937 Jewish immigrants escaping the horrors of Nazism were denied entry in 1939, aboard the St. Louis. We know what’s it like to not be wanted and we don’t want that for anyone else.
As an American Jew, I am tired. I am tired of Trump’s anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism his words continue to fuel. I am tired of being a bargaining chip and I am tired of the mistreatment of the Latino immigrant community. We have been and will continue to be “disloyal” to a president whose only interests are his own.