Two landmark events happened simultaneously: Yom HaShoah began at sunset in Israel just as the Republican Party bowed to Donald Trump’s candidacy for President of the United States. As Israelis began tweeting memorials reminding us to Never Forget, Jewish Americans like Ben Shapiro re-tweeted comments from Trump supporters that read “Shouldn’t you be in an oven right now?”
KKK chief David Duke received the news of Trump’s victory with glee. The racist whose endorsement Trump willingly accepted viewed the reality star’s victory in the GOP primaries as a sign that America recognizes Jews are “the real problem” and “why America isn’t great.” Duke specifically targeted the Jewish Republicans behind the Never Trump movement in his comments, claiming they represent the “anti-American majority position.”
If that isn’t vomitus enough, the Republican Jewish Coalition joined the ranks of other prominent Republican Jews, including former White House spokesman Ari Fleisher, in supporting Trump’s candidacy. The Republican Jewish Coalition’s statement was especially flaccid, paying the required homage to Trump before trying to re-focus the conversation on winning party seats in the House and the Senate. I wonder what it must feel like to back a candidate endorsed by a career racist who thinks you’re America’s biggest problem. And here I thought it was the naughty socialist Jews on the Left who sacrificed their Jewishness for their politics. Now who’s the biggest shanda fur de goyim?
Most Jews are satisfied enough to throw their support Hillary Clinton’s way. But hiding behind her skirts isn’t a good enough response to the pervasive anti-Semitism gaining popularity in our midst. Trump’s candidacy has legitimized the Jew hatred that’s been spewed from his supporters for months. Declaring Trump the “presumptive nominee” changed the face of the Republican Party from one of loud and proud evangelical support for Israel into one of populist, xenophobic hatred of The Other with Jewish Americans (excuse me, “Zionist bankers”) topping that list. A large group of people now think it’s completely acceptable to vocally hate Jews to the point of threatening our lives. Much like George Washington, I refuse to exchange liberal platitudes about tolerance for my American freedom.
There’s talk among Jewish Republicans about forming another party. The political reality is that if we are forced to choose between Oslo Democrats and Buchananite Republicans, Zionists of all stripes are going to have to take a stand, dual loyalty accusations be damned. But, the bottom line is that politics alone aren’t going to save us. Our best political actions have always been rooted in our faith as Jews. And if there is anything the Trump candidacy should be teaching us, it is that there is more to Jewish life than trying our hardest to be good Americans.
So, screw the anti-Semites. Join the synagogue, pay the dues. Find the local Federation and take your kids to some programs. Walk in the Israel parade, teach your kids Hebrew, wrestle with the Bible and with each other about the Bible. Daven in a minyan. Light candles, braid challah, stuff yourself with brisket. Have a Marx Brothers movie marathon. Start a chavurah-themed Mommy and Me in your backyard. Read Maimonides while you blast Bette Midler. Roll falafel and make Herzl your summer beach read. Visit the National Museum of American Jewish History and realize why we share a famous city block with Independence Hall. Stop trying so hard to be a good American and instead Make Jewish Great Again.
The great irony is that the devotion of a good Jew is what made America in the first place. In the spirit of Haym Salomon you’d be reminding America how great it already is.