Trump declares Judaism a ‘nationality’. Liberal Jews are appalled.

Trump declares Judaism a ‘nationality’. Liberal Jews are appalled. December 12, 2019

OUTRAGE has erupted among liberal American Jews in the wake of a New York Times report this week that President Trump plans to sign an executive order that will effectively classify Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion.

Trump’s intention is introduce a federal law penalising colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – or BDS – movement against Israel has been active on some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked.

According to Newsweek, Jewish groups have 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 Minnesota branch of the Jewish Community Action group described the Times report as “horrifying” on Facebook.

As American Jews, we will resist being defined as anything else. This is an empty, dishonest manipulation – the President wants to distract us from the truly violent white nationalism he has emboldened, and his own blatant antisemitism. We can’t let it work.

The progressive Jewish If Not Now organisation said the reported executive order:

Is not about keeping Jews safe. It’s just more antisemitism. The order defines Judaism as a ‘nationality,’ promoting the classically bigoted idea that American Jews are not, well, American.

Conflating criticism of the Israeli government with antisemitism is actually antisemitic because it implies that all Jews agree with, and are responsible for, Israel’s actions.

Image via Twitter

The liberal J Street group also condemned the reported executive order, with its President Jeremy Ben-Ami suggesting the move was about shutting down legitimate opposition to the White House and its far-right Israeli allies.

We feel it is misguided and harmful for the White House to unilaterally declare a broad range of nonviolent campus criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, especially at a time when the prime driver of anti-Semitism in this country is the xenophobic, white nationalist far-right.

It is particularly outrageous and absurd for President Trump to pretend to care about anti-Semitism during the same week in which he once again publicly spouted anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money.

Last year J Street said in a statement:

At J Street, we strongly oppose anti-Semitism in all of its forms. We work to challenge ill-informed criticism of Israel and Zionism – including on college campuses, through the efforts of our student movement J Street U. We strongly believe that such criticisms can and must be treated as constitutionally-protected free speech – not banned and punished by Congress or the executive branch.

While we stand against the Global BDS movement, we also believe that labeling all critics of the Israel and BDS supporters as anti-Semites only undercuts advocacy for Israel and for peace. Pro-Israel students need space to freely engage with and respond to difficult issues and ideas on their campuses. They don’t need Trump officials and university administrators to penalize students for their political opinions or to serve as the arbiters of what is acceptable debate.

We continue to urge Members of Congress and pro-Israel organizations not to support dangerous and misguided legislation that would hand further ammunition to the Trump administration for the suppression of free speech on campus – and that would do nothing to actually combat and reduce the real threat of anti-Semitism.

Hat tip: Antony Niall

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  • Raging Bee

    I suspect that even a Republican-dominated SCOTUS will have a VERY hard time doing anything other than striking this policy down as a blatant attack on free speech. Even the strictest of “strict constructionists” would see that this is government directly regulating speech, not just letting private entities regulate it.

  • Old Harry

    Well, it looks like the appropriate time for the Illinois Na&#8203zis to gleefully rally against this ‘Third Column’ within the US Body Politic, and with the witless unwitting cooperation of the President’s government.

    What a maroon.

  • Milo C

    I’m sure 45 would just want their kind to be gathered together, over there and not here, keeping the holy land safe for the Evangelicals.

  • ephemerol

    You’re optimistic.

  • digital bookworm

    Dam pesky Constitution getting in the way again.

  • Freethinker

    According to Israeli law Judaism IS a nationality.

    The Law of Return (Hebrew: חֹוק הַשְׁבוּת, ḥok ha-shvūt) is an Israeli law, passed on 5 July 1950, which gives all Jews the right to come and live in Israel and to gain Israeli citizenship.

    Anybody can become a Jew through a religious conversion or being born to an already Jewish mother.

    All Trump is doing is enforcing in on American soil. He knows that the best way to stifle dissent is to criminalize it. This isn’t the first or the last time speaking against injustice and criminality (in this case the Apartheid state of Israel) has been legislated into silence. Environmentalist groups are routinely classified as “terrorist” organizations by law enforcement agencies in order to “lawfully” spy on them, infiltrate them and and plant agitators and saboteurs.
    Federal Bureau of Investigation defines environmental terrorism (or ecoterrorism) as “the most significant domestic terror threat facing the United States today.” Expect to see much more of the same now that the Supreme Court is completely in the hands of Conservative Christian Rethugnicans.

  • barriejohn
  • Nicole Krieger

    I am confused… how does declaring Judaism a nationality stop free speech? It isn’t illegal to criticize nations.

  • Raging Bee

    Trump’s XO specifically threatens to withhold funding for colleges that support or enable the BDS movement, which is criticizing Israel and advocating punitive responses to its policies. THAT’S how declaring Judaism a nationality stops free speech.

  • Raging Bee

    That’s right: The Retrumplicans will fight for Judeo-Christian civilization…to the last Jew.

  • Nicole Krieger

    But South Africa being a nation didn’t get funds withheld when it was boycotted… people boycott China and other countries… has there been a precedent for withholding funds because a nation is being boycotted?

  • Raging Bee

    None that I know of. Like I said earlier, Trump’s XO is blatantly unconstitutional even from a “strict constructionist” standpoint.

  • Arthur F. Meincke

    Trump is the one who has created the Evangelical White Christian Nationalism today.There is no such thing as the Judeo-Christian alliance. More and more Jewish sects in the U.S.A., are under attack like they were in Germany in the 1930s. Many Zionists and Conservative Jews in the USA voted for Trump. They’re on their way to creating a NEW Holocaust for themselves in America under Trump’s Neo Fascist Executive Orders.