What’s Good For Israel Is Not Necessarily Good for Diaspora Jews

By

Leonard Zwelling

Trump loves Bibi. The president moved the U.S. Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. He cut off aid to the Palestinians. How could Trump not be good for the Jews in America, those of the Diaspora?

Easy. He’s not and in that is the ever-growing estrangement of Israel from the other large group of Jews in the world—those in America.

Now I’m not talking about the lefty BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) crowd of Americans that is growing on college campuses. They perceive the Palestinians to be a captive people when before 1967, they weren’t a people at all. They were Arabs living in an undeveloped land that those Israeli Jews turned back to the land of milk and honey starting in the late 1800s. I am talking about most of Jewish America. What is good for the Jews of America may not perfectly align with what is good for the citizens of Israel.

Israel is above all a political entity. It’s a country. It is indeed the Jewish state, but, in fact, all Jews are not welcomed there. If you are Jewish by choice or even by up-bringing but your mother was not Jewish, the ruling rabbis of Israel do not consider you a Jew. If you were converted to Judaism by a Conservative or Reform Jewish ceremony, you are not a Jew in Israel. And the Orthodox Jews in power in Israel have real sway as they are a considerable part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition government as Bibi’s Likud Party only has 30 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. Likud needs the religious parties to hold onto power. Thus, the “Jews” in Israel are not the “Jews” in America and we American Jews should not confuse us with them, because they don’t confuse them with many of us who they don’t consider Jewish or Jewish enough.

Thus, it is more than likely that Donald Trump moves in the political sphere that is his job as President of the United States, but is tone deaf to the effects his rhetoric has on the haters among his supporters here in America to whom he has now granted license to bully and harass blacks, Latinos, and Jews. If you honestly believe that what happened in Pittsburgh (or Charlottesville) is unrelated to Trump, his speeches and his venom, then I suggest you reconsider.

We American Jews have been here for hundreds of years, but it is mostly since the end of the Second World War that we have been able to make our impact on American society outside of Hollywood. I, for one, am so grateful for the tolerance with which most people treat Jews today. Yiddish has invaded English, no? Our food is everyone’s food and our holidays are known, a fact of relatively recent origin as I can attest to given my need to explain Hanukkah to my class when I was in grade school.

We Jews have it good here in America and we started having it better about the same time as Israel was born.

For all of my life (I was born two months after Israel was) the fate of Israel was always linked to the fate of the Jews here. What is good for Israel must be good for the Jews. Then came The Donald and what is good for geopolitical Israel—him—may not be good for those of us who live here in America.

It is beyond my comprehension how an historically oppressed people in America can find any solace in the presidency of Donald Trump. One of my friends calls him The Orange Hitler. Well, it’s not quite that bad. Not quite. But he thinks he can revoke the birth right to citizenship that is guaranteed in the Constitution. He wants to deploy 15,000 troops to the southern border and keep out refugees. Hey, that could have been us! And it was in the mid-1930s when only China would take the persecuted European Jews.

It is essential that any thinking American, Jewish or otherwise, oppose this president and his policies. He’s a bully. He’s not terribly bright. And he runs his mouth off to whip up crowds with chants of hatred. America doesn’t need this. And, in the long run, neither does Israel.

And just so you understand the threat of anti—Semitism in the United States, check out this Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden in 1939 just months before Hitler invaded Poland:

EXTRA: Link to recent essay I wrote on Rice Feminist Forum on Kavanaugh hearings:
Here is a link: https://ricefeministforum.org/2018/09/27/hearing/
Direct link to the post:
https://ricefeministforum.org/what-the-republicans-missed-in-the-recent-hearing/

Leonard Zwelling