At the Israeli-American Council (IAC) summit over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump re-opened the door for the left to attack his philo-semitic bonafides. Some might believe that in claiming American Jews “don’t love Israel enough” Trump was trafficking in the same anti-Semitic “dual loyalty” smear that Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and others have pushed.
Not only is this demonstrably false, the distinction between the two is one American Jews need to understand when making political decisions in 2020.
When Omar accuses Jewish lawmakers or pundits of siding with Israel, to the detriment of America, she accuses those Jews of dual loyalty. That smear has historical ramifications, as it was the excuse used for centuries in Europe and Russia to segregate the Jews into ghettos and attack them. Many countries would not allow Jews to become full citizens, when that is what they were.
Ironically, Omar, who pushes for globalism and consistently derides American nationalism, is claiming that if you are pro-Israel, you are anti-America.
Trump, on the other hand, is wondering why American Jews don’t love Israel more. The president, who clearly pushes a nationalist “America First” foreign policy, is not accusing American Jews of choosing Israel over America. Rather, he is recognizing that Israel is not in competition with America, and that their interests are aligned to such a degree that loving Israel should be a given.
This is no different to what Jewish children the world over are being taught every day. Millions of Jews have vowed that there will never be another Holocaust, because the Jews now have the means protect themselves when others won’t. Indeed, Israel’s history is replete with examples of how it protects Jews around the world, and not just the ones that live within its borders.
Israel brought in and settled a million Jewish refugees in the first 10 years of her existence, while she was a fledgling, third-world nation. Israel did the same with Russian Jews who managed to escape from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. In the mid-1980s, Israel conducted “Operation Moses,” a covert evacuation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, solely because they could not leave Jews to fend for themselves during a civil war in Sudan. Israel has a long and well-deserved track record of protecting Jews as well as it possibly can, regardless of where they live.
Where Jews live matters as well. The Jewish people have been in Diaspora for millennia, and have consistently attempted to make the best of the situations they found themselves in. In all that time, there has been no better friend to the Jewish people than America. The religious freedom codified in America’s Bill of Rights is something that no country before it was able to guarantee its Jewish citizens. World Jewry takes for granted today that equal rights and protections are granted to it. That those rights and protections exist today is due to American leadership.
American Jews do recognize this, and appreciate America. There is also appreciation for what Israel has been able to accomplish in the past century. These two things are not and cannot be mutually exclusive. America and Israel are allies, and share the common goals of democracy, freedom and national identity. An integral part of the American national identity is the “American melting pot.” Regardless of your background, an American is an American.
That does not mean you should ignore your background completely. If that were true, Rep. Omar couldn’t trade on her Somali background, and Rep. Tlaib couldn’t trade on her Palestinian one. Do they have “dual loyalty” to Somalia and the Palestinian territories? Anyone who would claim so would certainly be accused by them and their allies of the same bigotry.
The safety and security that Jews can feel around the world for the first time since the days of kings David and Solomon is due to the tireless efforts of the State of Israel. This is the feeling that Trump is attempting to tap into and encourage American Jews to appreciate. Omar is trying to ostracize American Jews by saying that they cannot truly be Americans if they have Israel’s interests in mind. Trump is trying to embrace American Jews by encouraging appreciation for a common ally of America and the Jewish people. These are not the same thing.
Moshe Hill is a political analyst who has written for “The Daily Wire,” “The Queens Jewish Link” and “The Jewish Link of New Jersey.” Follow on Twitter @TheMoHill.