(August 22, 2019 / JNS) There appears to be no limit to the sheer stupidity and reflexive malice with which people misrepresent what U.S. President Donald Trump has just said.
On Tuesday, he said: “I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat—I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Cue an instant storm of outrage by Jewish groups and commentators claiming that he had accused Jews of dual loyalty—one of the trademark libels of classical anti-Semitism.
“This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
David Harris, chief executive of the American Jewish Committee, called Trump’s comment “outrageous.” Ann Lewis and Mark Mellman of the Democratic Majority for Israel called it “one of the most dangerous, deadly accusations Jews have faced over the years. False charges of disloyalty over the centuries have led to Jews being murdered, jailed and tortured.”
A moment’s pause to consider the logic of this reaction reveals it to be totally ridiculous. “Dual loyalty” means Jews have greater loyalty to Israel than to America. Trump was accused of claiming this of Jews who voted Democrat.
But the Democratic Party is hardly Israel’s friend. As the party has become more radical, its hostility to Israel has grown.
The full context of what President Trump said made it clear that the “dual loyalty” interpretation simply didn’t stack up.
Last year, large numbers of both the House and Senate Democratic caucuses supported an end to the blockade of Hamas-run Gaza and suggested a more “even-handed” attitude to the conflict. The Pew Research center has shown that while 79 percent of Republicans say they back Israel against the Palestinians, only 27 percent of Democrats share that view.
And now the party is embracing outright anti-Zionists and Jew-bashers such as congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, whose proposed visit to Israel this month was aborted after the Israeli government decided that their itinerary was designed solely to incite hatred and do Israel harm. So the very last party that any supposedly “Israel-first” Jew would vote for would be the Democrats.
The full context of what President Trump said made it abundantly clear that this “dual loyalty” interpretation of his words simply didn’t stack up. Commenting on Omar’s call to cut aid to Israel, Trump said:
“Five years, the concept of even talking about this, even three years ago, of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people, I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the State of Israel? I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Trump was thus criticizing Democrat-voting Jews not for their overriding loyalty to Israel, but on the contrary, for supporting a party that has become an enemy of Israel.
Indeed, the logical meaning of his words was that Jews who vote Democrat are being disloyal to the Jewish people. The following day, Trump himself confirmed this when he told Bloomberg: “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”
The only Jewish group that got this straightaway was the Jewish Republican Coalition which, while other Jews were noisily losing their heads, coolly observed: “President Trump is right; it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion.”
Precisely. The astonishing fact is that Trump is sticking up for Israel against the enemies of the Jews within the Democratic Party, while that party, along with its Jewish supporters, is sticking up for the enemies of the Jews within its ranks.
The real scandal is the Democratic Party’s refusal to take any action against Omar and Tlaib, despite their support for BDS (and thus the destruction of Israel) and their anti-Jewish remarks.
Tlaib likened Israel to the Nazis when she compared BDS to a boycott against Nazi Germany, while Omar has made several anti-Semitic comments, including claims that Jewish money controls American foreign policy. And it was Omar who accused American Jews of dual loyalty when she questioned the “allegiance” of American supporters of Israel.
In addition, their proposed tour of what they called “Palestine” was being partly organized by Miftah, a virulently anti-Semitic outfit founded by the veteran PLO activist Hanan Ashrawi. Reports on Miftah’s website have praised Palestinian suicide bombers, repeated the blood libel that Jews kill gentile children and use their blood in religious rituals (for which it later apologized), and claimed equally repulsively that Israel steals children’s organs.
The malign nature of the congresswomen’s proposed visit was exposed when Israel agreed to Tlaib’s request to visit her 90-year-old grandmother provided Tlaib didn’t make trouble—only for Tlaib then to turn the trip down.
Yet despite all this, the Democratic Party refuses to censure these two. Instead, it has reportedly discussed censuring the Israeli envoy to the United States and the American ambassador to Israel. And Jewish groups in America have expressed outrage against Israel over blocking the trip.
Jewish Democrats are thus supporting a party that is tacitly enabling the expression of potentially murderous anti-Semitism. Yet they have the gall to attack as an anti-Semite the man who is calling out the party for way it is progressively throwing Israel and the Jews under the bus—and who is all too correctly slamming those Jews who support it nevertheless.
There are many reasons why the Democrats and their Jewish supporters refuse to call out the anti-Jewish bigots on their own side and instead accuse President Trump, the most pro-Israel president in American history, of anti-Semitism.
As has also been demonstrated in Britain over the epidemic Jew-hatred within the Labour Party, there is an iron conviction on the left that they cannot be guilty of anti-Semitism because they are “anti-racists.” Their political identity is rooted in their belief that they are always on the side of virtue against evildoers.
If they were ever to admit evil attitudes on their own side, their political and moral identity would collapse. So they turn reality inside out to defend the indefensible. And to protect themselves, they project their own evil onto their opponents. Thus, they falsely accuse President Trump of having the odious views of which their own side is guilty.
Nor can they admit that the Palestinian cause they support may be vile. The journalist Peter Beinart tweeted in defense of Miftah: “Frustrating to hear people who’d never heard of Miftah until today use its alleged sins to distract from deep injustice [Omar and Tlaib] were going to witness. As if an anti-white comment by SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee which fought for black civil rights) justified segregation.”
Genocidal attitudes and attacks by Palestinians most certainly do justify the security measures Israel uses against them. Through this tweet, Beinart has not only supported a virulently anti-Semitic outfit, but also whitewashed the Jew-hatred and Israel-bashing of those it promotes—and promoted his own.
Such moral bankruptcy has become a pathology that is steady poisoning the Democratic Party against the Jewish people, towards which those American Jews who still support the Democrats are indeed displaying a most tragic disloyalty.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” in 2018. Her work can be found at: www.melaniephillips.com.
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