Trump says I am a citizen of American Jewland. I am not.
by Bob Schwartz
Jewish Groups Accuse Trump of Anti-Semitism Over ‘Horrifying’ Plan to Define Judaism As a Nationality
Liberal American Jewish advocacy groups have reacted with horror to reports that President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality rather than just a religion.
According to a Tuesday report from The New York Times, the president is planning the order to help combat anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses and crack down on boycott campaigns against the state of Israel.
But progressive Jewish groups suggested the reported move is actually anti-Semitic, in that casts Jews as a separate nationality to all other Americans, and arguing it could stifle legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.
The move comes as the president himself is facing renewed accusations of anti-Semitism, after a weekend speech in which he used multiple anti-Semitic tropes and again suggested that all Jews must support for the Israeli government.
The Education Department can currently withhold funding from institutions or programs that discriminate “on the ground of race, color, or national origin,” but not religion, the Times explained.
By defining Judaism as a nationality, the administration will be able to defund institutions seen to be allowing an anti-Semitic environment do develop.
But it will also help the Education Department’s efforts to quell Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions-linked movements, which seek to pressure the Israeli government to improve its treatment of Palestinians and end its continued violation of international law.
Let us parse this craven move as a political and religious matter.
Politically, the vast majority of American Jews don’t like or support Trump. If, however, he can exploit differences in the Jewish communities to weaken that opposition and resistance, his handlers believe he comes out ahead. Support for Israel, including condemnation of BDS, crosses political lines. If Trump is seen as a “hero” to some Jews, that bolsters his chronically narrow support.
Religiously, this is typically careless, as in his not caring or knowing about Judaism, Christianity or any other religious tradition. Or about history. If he did, he would understand that racializing and nationalizing Jews is an insidious matter, used to raise issues of split loyalties and to set Jews apart from “regular” citizens.