Our TTN colleague, CUNY prof and Nation columnist Eric Alterman, draws a connection between a recent statement by Pres. Trump and years of neoconservative attacks on American Jewish liberalism. Here are selections from Alterman’s “Trump’s Comments on the ‘Disloyalty’ of Jews Have a Sordid History” (subtitled, “Neocons believed that a bit of evangelical anti-Semitism in exchange for bedrock support for Israel was a bargain.”):
. . . For the past four decades, neocon pundits and provocateurs . . . have smeared liberal Jewish writers as self-hating—and therefore disloyal—merely for giving voice to the views of mainstream Jews regarding Israel and the Palestinians.
… American Jews vote like what they are—the country’s best-educated religious group, according to Gallup—and mostly live in metro areas in the Northeast. Jews are more than twice as likely as other Americans to have completed college, and their postgraduate education is off the charts. …
. . . For more than a century, the leaders of American Jewry feared accusations of being more loyal to other Jews—eventually represented by Israel—than to their home country. Many American Jews opposed Zionism until they learned of the Holocaust and remained cool to Israel after its 1948 founding right up until the Six-Day War, at which point it became the central component of their ethnic and religious identity. Today nearly half of American Jews say Trump favors Israel “too much”—far more than Protestants or Catholics. As Israel becomes more like the apartheid state its enemies have accused it of always having been, more and more American Jews—especially the young—are turning away from it and looking for new ways to express their Jewish identities.
Trump has taken this moment to flip the script and accuse Jews of being insufficiently loyal—not to America but to Israel—by remaining Democrats. The accusation has an anti-Semitic implication when Trump and his fellow right-wing gentiles level it, as it implies that Jews are not Americans first and hence cannot be trusted to put their home country’s interests ahead of those of a foreign nation. And yes, Trump is really catering to his evangelical base, not to Jews. And yes again, he is doing it in his own ridiculous way, retweeting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist. But it is not so different from what the Podhoretzes, the Kristols, Peretz, and company have been peddling all these years.
The . . . truth is, to oppose both Trump and Netanyahu has no bearing on whether one is a good Jew. It means only that one is a decent human being.