Thursday, December 12, 2019

Bad News for Jews

I'm a New Yorker, so even though I was raised in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, I schlep to work, I nosh when I'm hungry, and I complain about the gonif in the White House. I've always had Jewish friends and neighbors, Jewish roommates and Jewish girlfriends and Jewish co-workers. The eye doctor who first fitted me out for glasses was Jewish. Growing up, the vast majority of my friends were either Catholic or Jewish, so it was easy to assume that the majority of the nation was as well. Until recently, I (like most of my Jewish friends and acquaintances) thought that the Jewish people in the United States were as safe as any Jewish people on the planet. Now, I'm not so sure...

In the past three years, I've heard from LGBTQ friends who were afraid to get married because they thought they might get put on a list. I've heard from Hispanic friends who were afraid that they would hear a fateful knock on the door because their immigration paperwork might not be in order. So far, I haven't personally heard any Jewish friends express any fear of the current regime, but that time might come. Oddly enough, the most worrisome factor in Trump's 'Jewish Policy' is couched as a bill combating antisemitism... the bill seems to define Jewish people as a national identity group as well as a religious identity group, which plays into an old trope that Jews have divided loyalties to this nation. This is mere days after Trump peppered a speech in front of a conservative Jewish audience with antisemitic tropes. As a bizarre coda to this farrago of anti-Jewish bigotry, Trump invited antisemitic evangelical pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee to the White House Hanukkah party.

In the meantime, antisemitic attacks are on the rise in this country, from both white and black right-wing whackjobs. Trump's legislative order will do nothing to prevent real antisemitic violence, while playing into the hands of conspiracy theorists who portray Jews as a sinister 'Other'. If I thought Trump had a scintilla of awareness, I'd suspect that he planned things this way.

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