Thursday, December 12, 2019

Trump Helps Jews Under Assult on College Campuses And Gets Called An "Anti-Semite" by Jews

Upon being told that the mayor of Dublin, Bobby Briscoe, was Jewish, Yogi Berra famously said, “Only in America.” 
You know what else could happen only in America? 
A president changes policy for the purpose of helping American Jews who find themselves under assault on college campuses — and gets called an anti-Semite as a result.
This could only happen in America, because President Trump could only have happened in America. And it could only happen in America, because, save for rare and sometimes horrific exceptions, American Jews have so little personal experience with actual anti-Semitism that they imagine their ideological differences with Trump, and their honest distress at his divisive rhetoric, are enough to mark him as an anti-Semite.
The latest example comes with a new executive order from Team Trump that extends to Jews some language from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 denying federal funding to any institution that discriminates on the basis of race, color or national origin.
The original reporting on the executive order suggested it would do this by placing Jews in the “national origin” category — which, it was said, would define Jews as a separate “nation.”
This inaccurate account of the executive order caused what can only be called a freakout all over social media. Liberal Jews likened the idea to Nazi ideology, said Trump was denying us our Americanness and that this would be the beginning of a separate status for American Jews.
The reaction was psychotic — in two ways.

First: Is the idea that you can’t discriminate against an American of Irish or Italian origin a way of “othering” Irish Americans or Italian Americans in a manner that makes them less “American”? Of course not!
Americans are surpassingly ignorant about their history, so perhaps they can be forgiven for not knowing that “national origin” was a key part of modern civil rights law precisely because minority ethnic groups had been openly discriminated against (“No Irish need apply” appeared on store windows and in employment ads in the second half of the 19th century).
Second, the Jews who object to the idea of Jewry being a “nation” are mainly disclosing their own illiteracy about our tradition.
The very first Jew, Abraham, was told by God, “I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:2). The Bible is the story of a people liberated by God to build a nation. Their repeated expulsions from the nation they built didn’t bring the Jewish nationhood to an end, as it did for almost every people on Earth whose land was taken from them.
For two millennia, Jews existed as a stateless people. Their deepest connection was not to the diaspora lands where they resided but to the tradition from which they came — and they had more in common with other Jews who lived untold thousands of miles away than they did with their non-Jewish neighbors 100 yards away.
Jews occupy a unique status. We are part of a faith tradition, part of an ethnicity, part of a tribe. We have unique genetic markers for disease we share almost exclusively with other Jews. That is nationhood without a nation.
In any case, it turned out that the executive order doesn’t actually classify Jews as a separate nationality. It doesn’t really offer a definition of Jewry as part of any category; instead, it directs executive agencies to apply language from recent international law in determining whether something constitutes anti-Semitic discrimination.
This is an elegant way to get to the result the Trump administration wanted. Maybe it’s a little sophistic, but so what? In what way is the goal of denying those who would allow anti-Semitism to go unchecked, especially on college campuses awash in government dollars, something to deplore?
The thing is, it was clear from the moment the news broke that the Trump administration was altering policy in a way designed to benefit Jews who are finding it increasingly difficult to advocate for Jewish causes — Israel, particularly — on college campuses.
This was an act of solidarity and friendship. And there should come a point when the Jewish community takes such gestures for what they are. It is a distressing habit to look with suspicion and distaste at an outstretched hand if that hand comes from someone with whom you disagree politically.
If Trump’s support for Israel and this policy war against anti-Semitic outrages on campus marks him as an anti-Semite, all I can say is, I wish everybody were an anti-Semite.


Kiddush Club said...

I was wondering why the heimishe special pareve run of Bailey's Irish liquor was called Briscoe's. It was good stuff. Why did it just die out 15 years ago?

Seamus Flanagan said...

I'm surprised at columnist John Podhoretz for overlooking a prime example of Satmar meshugoyim attacking DIN as an insane, self-hating Jew.