Emily Hilton

Trump’s election is a punch in the gut

A punch in the gut. That’s what it felt like as the results of last Tuesday’s election trickled in around 2am.

Obama’s declaration eight years ago that ‘change has come to America’ ago now seemed an age away.

Logging onto social media a few hours later, almost everyone I knew was going through similar feelings of despair.

Their reactions were visceral; full of hurt, anger and fear.

As Trump’s victory overwhelmed the news cycle in the days after the election, it has become increasingly clear that we are only at the beginning of the Breitbart nightmare that’s about to engulf the world.

So when the first official response from our community’s leading organisations was a ‘congratulations’ from President of the Board of Deputies, this felt not only grossly misjudged, it was infuriating.

It is time in this particularly dark hour to show ourselves as allies to those who will suffer in the next four years.

There may be a desire to hide behind our geographical separation from the US, but we cannot count ourselves out of what is going to be an ongoing struggle for the rights of women and minorities.

How could we, when one of the UK’s most malicious and morally bankrupt political operatives was working for Trump’s campaign?

Mr Arkush may think that sending platitudes to Trump will suddenly morph him into a ‘beacon of tolerance.’

That a man who has repeatedly sexually assaulted women, who wants to create a ‘register’ for Muslim Americans, who appoints a known anti-Semite as chief strategist, is about to start holding sit ins and sing-alongs in the Rose Garden.

I instead choose to put my faith in organisations and people who will now be fighting tirelessly to protect basic human dignities of American citizens.

Jews are all too familiar with policies of registers and deportations to avert our eyes and mutter that ‘things might be different’ when he is in power.

Planned Parenthood. The NAACP. The Religious Action Centre. These are the organisations that deserve our congratulations, our support, our strength. They are going to need it.

We must offer our communal hand across the Atlantic to the amazing activists who reject the idea we must now show deference to a man who’s presence in the White House makes the world a more prejudiced and dangerous place.

Nor should we be satisfied with the posturing of someone who vows to move the embassy to Tel Aviv in one breath, and dog whistles a Jewish establishment conspiracy in another.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that ‘despair is for the privileged.’ Whilst we grieve a world that seems unrecognisable even from this time last year, we must also pray with our feet.

As a community on both a national and international stage we must see Trump’s election as a call to action.

Our community has proven time and again its capacity for compassion and solidarity with those who are marginalised.

As Jews, in line with a deep tradition of resilience and of perseverance, it is time to stand up.

About the Author
Emily is a Jewish anti-occupation activist living in the UK. She has written for the Independent, +972 Magazine and the Guardian.
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