Jewish Security and Antisemitism
by Martin J. Raffel
Trump has undermined Jewish security and encouraged antisemitism. Here is why:
- Anti-Semitic hate crimes are rising at an alarming pace, and, according to the Anti-Defamation League 2019 saw the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents since tracking began in 1979. In addition, the ADL has found that white supremacists have increased efforts to promulgate conspiracy theories blaming Jews, Asians, and immigrants for the coronavirus pandemic.
- It is impossible to know whether Trump, himself, is an anti-Semite, although he has used stereotypical references when speaking to Jewish groups. But the noted Emory University scholar Professor Deborah Lipstadt readily characterizes him as an antisemitism enabler. In her book “Anti-Semitism: Here and Now,” she asserts that in his rhetoric Trump has “hit almost every millennial-old anti-Semitic stereotype.”
- White supremacy and other far right extremist groups have been emboldened by the president’s rhetoric, such as “there are very fine people, on both sides” following the march of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville shouting “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan “blood and soil.” Once again, David Duke, the notorious racist and former KKK member, has endorsed Trump for president and urged him to replace Mike Pence with Tucker Carlson because he has espoused “white ethnic cleansing in America.”
- Elizabeth Neumann, who served as assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at the Department of Homeland Security, and her colleagues tried to get Trump to address the growing problem of globalized white supremacist terrorism and were ignored. “At least in this administration,” she said, “there is not going to be anything substantive done on domestic terrorism.”
- The Jewish community was traumatized by the October 2018 slaughter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest assault against Jews in our nation’s history. The mass murderer responsible for the assault had listened to the president’s words about an alleged large-scale “invasion” of illegals coming into America from the southern border. He wanted to punish this Jewish congregation, which had hosted a program with the pro-immigration organization HIAS, and, in his twisted mind, was abetting the so-called invasion. The killer of four at a Chabad synagogue near san Diego in April 2019 told a 911 dispatcher he committed the slaughter because Jews were out to “destroy all white people.”
- Trump refuses to reject support given to him by QAnon, a bizarre group growing in the U.S. and around the world, which promotes conspiracy theories implying there is a Jewish cabal responsible for many of the world’s ills. When Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, who openly espouses QAnon conspiracy theories, won a safe seat in Georgia in August, Trump described her as a “Future Republican star.” And she received an invitation to the Republican National Convention.
- Trump has fanned the flames of polarization, racism, and hostility in America. His transparent reelection strategy is to foment chaos and violence in the streets. History teaches us that Jewish security is undermined in conditions of societal turmoil.
Biden will advance Jewish security and fight antisemitism. Here is why:
- First elected to the Senate in 1972, Joe Biden has an almost half century record of unwavering support for the Jewish community.
- The Charlottesville event and Trump’s ignominious response to it led Biden to get into the presidential race as a fight “for the soul of the nation.”
- Biden is committed to adoption of a domestic terrorism law and to a more robust prosecution of hate crimes through the Department of Justice. He also intends to promote the enactment of sensible gun security laws that will break the nexus between extremism and gun violence.
- When the white nationalist leader, Richard Spencer, declared he endorsed Biden for president, the Biden campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates, tweeted: “When Joe Biden says we are in a battle for the soul of our nation against vile forces of hate who have come crawling out from under rocks, you are the epitome of what he means. What you stand for is absolutely repugnant. Your support is 10,000% percent unwelcome here.”
- Unlike Trump, who condemns antisemitism only when it comes from the left, Biden condemns all antisemitism whatever its source, including when the BDS movement and others seek to delegitimize the state of Israel.
- Instead of fomenting polarization and civil unrest, Biden will heal the nation’s wounds and bring us together. This is good for Jewish security, and good for the security of all Americans. As he said in his acceptance speech, “The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.”
Martin J. Raffel grew up in Harrisburg, PA, and attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. He attended the Hebrew University School of Law in Jerusalem and became a member of the Israel Bar Association. Following his return to the U.S. in 1978, he joined the Pennsylvania Bar Association before beginning a career in Jewish public affairs in 1979 at the American Jewish Committee in Philadelphia serving as assistant director to Dr. Murray Friedman. Martin later served as director of the American Jewish Congress in Philadelphia and vice president at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. From 1987–2014, he was senior vice president at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and principal professional on Israel, world Jewry and international human rights. He was instrumental in creating the Israel Action Network, a joint strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the JCPA to combat the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.
This is the second part of a four-part series comparing Trump’s presidency to the Biden/Harris candidacy. Part I dealt with ‘Who is “good” to the United States.’ I encourage you to read this material as you contemplate the most crucial election in the history of American democracy — an election our increasingly authoritarian president is trying to steal through his voter suppression tactics and failure to respond to continued Russian interference. But, please, do not just read it. We need to you to actively use this material in your advocacy efforts with colleagues, friends, and relatives. We encourage and value any feedback you care to share. Thank you.
Stay tuned for…
Part III — Israeli Security and the Search for Peace
Part IV — U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and other Shiny Objects
For a comprehensive Trump Versus Biden primer for the Jewish community go to: https://djop.org/2020/08/13/trump-vs-biden-a-jewish-primer/
For detailed information about how Vice President Biden plans to address our country’s challenges, go to: https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/