‘Hey, Trump, You Have Pissed Me Off!’
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‘Hey, Trump, You Have Pissed Me Off!’

Opposing the Right-Wing Israeli Government Isn’t Anti-Semitic, You Are

Terry H. Schwadron

Hey, Donald Trump, apparently you want to mix it up with me, son of a Holocaust survivor, because I don’t agree that Israel—another sovereign nation—should be able to act as an oppressive occupier of Arab-owned land.

I’m not impressed with your offensive but limp, stupid statements about “Jewish Democrats” all because you think it plays well with your re-election campaign. You want a piece of me, bring it. You have done enough to piss me off.

Even given an extra day of reporter questions to suggest that you had missteps in accusing Jewish Democrats who don’t back the kowtowing policies of right-leaning Benjamin Netanyahu to remain as Israeli prime minister, you doubled down.

My children and my grandchildren are forever going to know you as one who hates Jews and everything for which Jewish values stand.

You driving the dividing rod into the American psyche to split Jewish voters – people who are already very split on this question – by insulting whether I owe dual-loyalties to Israel and the United States. You say I am disloyal because I don’t like Netanyahu – or you – to be acting as an authoritarian racist who wants to quash Muslim votes in each country, who wants to pick who wins and who loses in the economy and education, who wants Muslims to live a life of second-class status.

It’s going to take a lot more of your empty arguments to hurt me, but let me be clear that my children and my grandchildren are forever going to know you as one who hates Jews and everything for which Jewish values stand. You can’t even tell the difference between Jews and Israelis. The fact that no Israeli politician can currently pull a majority vote in the Knesset ought to tell you that even among Israelis there is no uniformity about the direction of Israeli-enforced policy.

White Supremacist Supporters

Your white supremacist supporters do a much better job of anti-Semitism than you; they want to kill me or drive me and all people who are The Other into exile to leave them a whiter, homogeneous Christian nation. Your Christian evangelicals want us to find Christ. Your friends in Poland, whom you are about to visit, have passed a law to imprison anyone who says out loud that Poles killed Jews. The neo-Nazis, in whom you find plenty of good people, don’t need much extra oomph; they just grew into their hate-filled polemics and worse from the Daddy Nazis.

Those were the good Germans who spit on my Mom as she walked on the street, who forced her into a Jewish school on the top floor of a building in British bombing runs, who locked her up for weeks separate from her family on a trumped-up charge, who forced her to flee with parents and a young brother half a world away to China just in time to be locked up for the rest of World War II by the Japanese Axis allies, open to tuberculosis, scorpion bites and hunger. Oh yeah, there was no escape possible to America because the borders were summarily shut down to them, even as the same nostalgic America was corralling Japanese-Americans into containment camps.

Trump smiles at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, after signing an official proclamation formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. (AP)

My grandfather’s attempt at a family tree was fine until it hit 1945. The generations just stopped at the Nazi death camps. An older uncle and aunt spent the winter iced into the Danube, only to get out and have to run the British blockade of Palestine to find safety. I don’t need any lecturing about how I view 70 years of Israeli independence either.

Perhaps closing borders sounds a little too close to your own policies? It does for me, but then I’m disloyal – to something. To you, for sure. To capitalism that operates without empathy and fairness. To Netanyahu? Guilty as charged. To American values, I am loyal. To the Israeli government, particularly as aimed toward the right, nope. I care because relatives and a lot of Jews live there, understanding that there are fewer Jews there than in New York and Los Angeles.

‘Natural Disloyalty’

I come by my disloyalty naturally, the son of Jews whose very lives were held, hungry and sick, at the point of German shepherds and a gun on the other side of the barbed wire.

You’ve called me a Socialist and a Commie before, you’ve used anti-Semitic advertising in your campaign, you’ve attacked me as a disloyal journalist, someone weak on immigration and an abortion rights nut. Now we can add verbal anti-Semite. How else do we explain singling out Jewish Democrats from all Democrats, or recognizing that there has been plenty of specific criticism from Jewish America of the words used by those two House Squad members?

Israel itself has Jews and Arabs in its tax-paying population and in its Knesset, the legislature where there are lots of arguments about settlements and occupation and shooting unarmed Gazans in the name of security. The right-wing Orthodox in Israel don’t think most American Jews are even Jews. That small minority of Jews who are your circle, people like casino owner Sheldon Adelson and Seagram’s original owners, the Bronfmans, and your former lawyer David Friedman whom you named as ambassador, don’t represent me. So, let’s knock off the stereotypes, shall we?

You think two U.S. congresswomen are going to overrun all the entrenched political interests in two nations? You’re not only anti-Jew, anti-Muslim and anti-woman, you are anti-knowledge.

So, if you think this is your political fastball, to pick on two Muslim congresswomen but blame Jewish Democrats, you have a few things to learn.

Real anti-Semitism, the kind you try to wash your hands of as you sling your anti-Jewish tropes, meant telling my dad where he couldn’t teach or preventing my father-in-law from being able to practice medicine in the largest area hospital. Nice way to treat military veterans, right? How about all the Green Book-like hotels that refused my parents entry, along with every black and brown person in the country. It is about control and labeling The Other problematic and disposable – you know, deplorable. It was what pushed me as a young reporter to the newspaper publisher’s office to deplore an editorial cartoon about Israel that used figures with Der Stormer-like big noses.

Sometimes you just need to be disloyal, because that’s the right thing to do.

How do you explain your own behavior? You’re the one disloyal to the ideas of America, the guy who loves America but hates Americans.

If you want to shill for Netanyahu, go right ahead. But leave the Jewish tropes about dual loyalties home. If you can’t tell the difference between anti-Jew and anti-Israeli right-wing government, don’t say anything at all.

Featured image: Internet meme.

August 23, 2019