Ethan Wolf
Co-Founder and Chair of Jews 4 Joe

Anti-Semitism on Campus: The Donald Trump Effect

Trump speaking in Israel. Source: https://static.timesofisrael.com/blogs/uploads/2020/05/trump-israel-museum.jpg

College is a time when students expand their identities, studying materials that challenge their preconceptions and meeting a diverse group of lifelong friends. In a time of unabridged growth, students find themselves with all kinds of new responsibilities. One of these new responsibilities in the era of President Trump is finding ways to defend Israel and their progressive values in progressive spaces. Joe Biden, unlike President Trump,, recognizes and allows for college students like me to be vocally pro-Israel while championing progressive ideals.

President Trump uses profit-seeking and monopolization tactics to attract the support of Jewish voters across the country. When far-left leaning members of Congress made disparaging comments about Jews, the Holocaust, and the creation of the state of Israel, Trump took to Twitter, stating that certain members of Congress “…obviously have tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says.” With this statement, President Trump created an immediate and unnecessary division between  the Republican Party — now viewed as the “party of Israel” — and the Democrats: a group, according to Trump, of anti-Israel zealots and antisemites. His overly broad and overtly false characterizations of Democrats political behavior — and by extension, moral values — render American Jews between a rock and a hard place. We are forced to choose between President Trump, who has courted the votes of neo-nazis, calling them very fine people, and those President Trump makes out to be raging leftists seething for Zionist blood. Trump has effectively used the Jewish people as a cudgel and has identified us as a meaningless casualty in his broader war against decency, legitimate foreign policymaking, and diplomatic norms.

The politicization of the Jewish and pro-Israel communities has largely impacted college students across the United States. Over the last four years, President Trump’s bigoted rhetoric and overly hawkish diplomacy in Israel created an equivalency between hatred and Jewish students supporting the state of Israel. In a time about self-discovery, President Trump’s actions have isolated Jewish, pro-Israel students across the country. Students like Blake Flayton, have been called “apartheid-enabler,” “baby killer,” “colonial apologist” just for supporting Israel on campus. Students have often been misconstrued as Trump and Netanyahu cronies and are discouraged from joining progressive groups on campus that otherwise share their values. As a result, once again Jews are offered the opportunity to abandon their pro-Israel views and assimilate into the progressive movement or be painted as a Trump crony supporting Israel.

And yet there’s still hope. Joe Biden has never politicized the Jewish people. He has always understood the vital importance of the Jewish state and has continually reaffirmed that identity is not a partisan issue. In reference to growing concerns about antisemitism in the United States, Biden stated that, “Criticism of Israel’s policy is not anti-Semitism. But too often that criticism from the left morphs into anti-Semitism.” With a single statement, Biden called out antisemitism on the left, while noting that Israeli policy is complicated. Rather, it is something to be questioned and critically analyzed at every turn. It is not an issue to use to garner political profits or rack up wins on an invisible scoreboard. 

Biden’s character, leadership, and policies encourage dialogue. Rather than making the Israel-Palestine conflict a partisan wedge issue, Joe Biden will ensure that the Jewish State, and questions concerning its legitimacy, are entirely nonpartisan. As Vice-President, Biden worked tirelessly to fight the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS)  movement. In doing so, Vice-President Biden gave Jewish students across the country the tools necessary to fight BDS on their own campuses without compromising their progressive ideals. When elected President, Biden will continue to support Jewish college students and ensure they have a home in pro-Israel, progressive movements. 

Joe Biden doesn’t see me as a political football. He doesn’t attempt to pigeonhole me into someone or something that I’m not. He doesn’t see me as a cudgel, relevant only in terms of the small boost in opinion polling I might provide. He sees me as a human being with an identity, voice, and perspective. Biden not only hears my story, but he listens. He has empathy. This isn’t something I should have to commemorate — it should be an expectation of all people, let alone those who enter public life. But in this election, we are being forced to grapple with far more than policy. This election is about character, integrity, and all of the attributes that the Jewish people hold dear. On November 3, it’s up to us to choose what’s right: it’s up to us to ensure that our identity isn’t weaponized for political gain. And most importantly, it’s up to us to cast our ballots for Joe Biden.  

About the Author
Ethan is the Co-Founder and Chair of Jews 4 Joe, a mobilization of Young Jewish support for Vice President Biden. A former intern with Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10), Ethan has a passion in public service, foreign affairs, and Middle Eastern Diplomacy.
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