In the wake of the Iran Nuclear Deal, with politicians jockeying for positions pro and con, one of the oldest and most despicable forms of anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head. This would be the accusation of “dual loyalty,” especially as it applies to politicians who happen to be Jewish, scattered throughout the Diaspora. In the infamous and fabricated document known as “The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion,” dating back to Czarist Russia of the late 19th century, Jews are accused of having allegiance to “World Jewry,” more than to the country of their birth. After the creation of the State Of Israel, the wording changed to “Jews are more loyal to the State Of Israel than the country in which they reside.”
A most infamous example of the “dual loyalty” canard can be found in the trial of French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfuss in 1894, in which he was falsely accused of passing military secrets to the Germans. He was sent to Devil’s Island, and became its most famous prisoner. Ultimately, he was exonerated of the charges.
Here in the US, New York State Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat) broke with the official line of his Democratic Party, and voted against the Iran Nuclear Deal because he did not believe it included enough safeguards and reliable assurances that Iran would not get an atomic bomb, either in the near future, or when the deal ended in fifteen years. In addition, he was critical of the twenty four day period of warning before an inspection would take place of Iran’s underground nuclear sites.
He was immediately attacked in several liberal media online publications, as well as on his own Facebook page, with suggestions that perhaps his true loyalties lay with Israel rather than his home country, the United States. One of these online publications, The Daily Kos, showed a cartoon in its segment “Animal News” or “AN,” by Eric Lewis, in which Senator Schumer, represented by a bear, was standing next to an Israeli flag, and the phrase “Traitor Says What?” was printed across the cartoon. New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (Democrat) also came out against the deal, and though she may have been criticized, was not slandered with the anti-Semitic bias with which Senator Schumer was attacked. She is, of course, not Jewish.
The dual loyalty charge against Jews in the present day, is not limited to the United States. Earlier this month, Israeli PM Netanyahu appointed Fiamma Nirenstein to the post of Israel’s ambassador to Italy. Ms. Nirenstein, an Italian Jew and former member of the Italian Parliament, made Aliyah in 2013. Since then, she has also been a member of Israel’s Knesset. According to Haaretz, some members of the Italian Jewish community are afraid that her appointment may kindle anti-Semitic feelings amongst Italians, and that it may hinder the appointment of other Jews to Italy’s Parliament as well. There have been many negative comments and questions on social media about her surrendering of Italian citizenship to assume the post.
Michael Oren, the former Israeli Ambassador to the United States is another example. Mr. Oren, born in New Jersey, made Aliyah and had to surrender his US citizenship in order to assume the post in Israel’s Foreign Service. In his recently published book Ally, Mr. Oren describes in wrenching detail his decision to surrender his American passport at the US embassy in Tel Aviv. It is interesting to note, that his decision, unlike Fiamma Nirenstein’s, did not provoke the same outcry amongst American Jews. I would opine that this is because of some innate differences between the cultures of Italy and the US. America is much more culturally diverse than Italy, and all of our politicians have family that came from somewhere. American Jews, until lately, as witnessed by the Schumer attacks, did not, as a community, fear these charges.
Within the American Jewish community, there has been much heated debate on the Iran Nuclear Deal, as fomenting, not so much antisemitism, but as creating “a Great Divide” between so-called mainstream Judaism, and those secular Jews who are for the Iran Deal. A recent article in the Jewish Week, by editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt, described the deep divisions occurring in the Jewish community over this issue. He breaks down the divisions as between those who are active in Jewish and Israeli life, and those who are not. Mr. Rosenblatt says:
“We have reached a low point in U.S.-Israeli relations when the (Obama) administration is suggesting that Jewish groups and Israeli officials, by lobbying against the Iran deal, may be to blame if the Iran deal falls apart and leads to another Mideast war.”
He also sees as dangerous the perceived alignment of the Israeli government under PM Netanyahu with the Republican Party; something that many see as Israeli/Jewish meddling in American politics.
I can see that if events in the Middle East worsen, a backlash against American Jews is possible, much worse than any political cartoons or random posts in the media. The US Administration, as Mr. Rosenblatt’s article suggests, is already hinting at this. There is no question but that we are living in dangerous times, if one views the “whole picture,” namely the anti-Israeli/antisemitic attitudes on college campuses vis-à-vis the Palestinian conflict, which are at an all-time high, Jewish opposition to the Iran deal being highlighted in social media, and the divide occurring within the Jewish community.
We should remember that we, ourselves, must not be our own enemy, and must use every means necessary to foster dialogue, unity and strength-between ourselves, for starters.