U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that American Jews who vote for the Democratic party show “either a total lack of knowledge or great
disloyalty.” By that metric, the vast majority of the American Jewish community is, in the estimation of their president, apparently either stupid or disloyal.
In the days since Trump’s comments, much has been made of the latter accusation, rather little about the former. Perhaps everyone quickly realized that “lack of knowledge” is an epithet unlikely to stick to the People of the Book, least of all among anti-Semites who believe Jews control everything in the world. Dumb – there’s one thing everyone might at least agree we are not.
So it’s disloyal then: for Jews who vote Democrat, as Trump clarified a day after his first comments on the subject, “you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.” American Jewish organizations, still trying to catch their breath after the Rashida Tlaib-Ilhan Omar trip to Israel that wasn’t, were called back to action to once again condemn Trump.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, speaking to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said ties with the United States “are not dependent on the relationship with one particular party.” Evidently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had nothing to add on the subject.
Several prominent Republicans, including Trump allies, rebuked the president – though not the Republican Jewish Coalition. “President Trump is right,” it proclaimed. “It shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion.”
Disloyalty: you can’t spell it without “oy.”
As this edition of The Canadian Jewish News goes to press, tensions are soaring in the Middle East after Israel prevented an Iranian drone strike emanating from Syria. According to the IDF chief of staff, the Iranian ploy was managed by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. In recent days, Israel has also targeted a pro-Iranian militia in Iraq, and Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. In response, there have been ominous threats from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. And of course, there have been the usual rocket attacks from Gaza.
It should be evident that the Jewish state is quite literally fighting the world’s battle, and yet Israel faces constant vilification from the likes of Tlaib and Omar. Were it not for Israel’s constant vigilance and noted ability to thwart terror attacks before they even take place (and to shoot down so many of those rockets that still manage to get through), not to mention its unusual capacity for prevention without escalation, there’s little doubt that the world – even here in Canada – would be a much less safe place. A growing number of Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East are coming to the same conclusion.
But leading the battle against terror also has deadly consequences. Last week, a 17-year-old Israeli, Rina Shnerb, was the latest victim of Palestinian terror when a bomb exploded as she was hiking in the West Bank. Shnerb was with her father and 19-year-old brother, both of whom are still recovering. “Rina saved us all,” said her father, a rabbi, from his hospital bed. “She absorbed it all.” May her memory be a blessing.