Ekev 5779


“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” President Donald Trump on Tuesday. On Wednesday: “I think if you vote for a Democrat, you are very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.”

In response, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader: “To my fellow American Jews…: When [President Trump] uses a trope that’s been used against the Jewish people for centuries with dire consequences, he is encouraging — wittingly or unwittingly — anti-Semites throughout the country and world. Enough.”

What’s next in the “disloyalty” column for Jews? Jews who listen to classical music of European origin rather than, say, Nashville country? Who pray three times a day without invoking Jesus? Who contribute to United Nations hunger alleviation programs?

Has the president just made your vote a loyalty test, or are we all now honorary voting citizens of Israel? (That idea was floated some years back by a right-wing Israeli politician.) 

Does affinity to and support for a foreign country now make one suspect? Will buying a Japanese-branded car (even if made in Alabama) tar someone as disloyal? Are we Jews — or any other “membership” group — expected to self-police, and either rehabilitate those who are “disloyal” or excommunicate them?

It seems that political choices are becoming ever more binary: Love it or leave it; with us or against us; all or nothing. There is right or wrong with no awareness, nuance, moderation or discussion.

To me, loyalty is found in the voting booth. Loyalty is found in supporting civil rights. Loyalty is found in promoting fairness in all aspects of society. Loyalty is to a government and the people’s welfare it is charged with promoting. Loyalty is discussing issues and seeking solutions through compromise for the greater good. 

Loyalty is found in the Jews who currently make up about 1% of the American military. Loyalty is found in defending — in whatever ways one chooses — the right, the privilege, of Americans to vote and to worship as they please without the fear of being marked as disloyal.

We have been made to wear yellow stars. Enough.

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