Michael Harvey
Former Congregational Rabbi

Jews Can No Longer Support Trump

Well, it finally happened.  Last night, during the first U.S. Presidential debate, where millions of people in America, as well as in the rest of the world, the President of the United States was asked multiple times to condemn white supremacy, and refused.  That, in itself, should raise huge red flags for any Jew who has supported Trump in the past; however, what was more frightening and telling was when Donald Trump looked into the camera, and instead of condemning his neo-nazi supporters, told them to “stand back, and stand by.”

It took only minutes for the Proud Boys and their ilk to celebrate a full endorsement from their President on the social media platforms.  Screenshots across social media showed, the morning after the debate, that the Proud Boys, as well as other White Supremacy groups, understood those words to be a “call to arms,” or “marching orders,” by their leader.  The Proud Boys created a new badge with the words “stand back and stand by” to show their orders to incite violence were acknowledged.   This is not fake news.  It is not Trump Derangement Syndrome.  It is not a misunderstanding.  Jews of America, search your feelings, you know it to be true.  The President is your enemy.

This incitement for violence by neo-nazis comes as the  final straw in a long list of actions against Jews in the administration since Trump’s rise to power.   After Charlottesville where the same neo-nazis shouted“Jews will not replace us,” Donald Trump praised “both sides” of the rally, meaning the fascists and the anti-fascists together.  Then came the synagogue shootings, swastikas painted on our doors and institutions, and cartoons depicting us with big noses, all with poor responses from an administration that openly understood its base to be white supremacists, topped with an endorsement from the KKK leader David Duke.  A 2019 survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 73% of American Jews feel less secure since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and with good reason.

At the United Nations, Trump stated, “The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots.”  Whether our president knew it or not (though the speechwriter certainly did) the term “globalists” is a code-word for “Jews,” implying that “Jews are not truly loyal citizens of any nation.”  The term is a dog-whistle for the far-right, an understanding that comes from Hitler’s accusations that Jews are “international elements” that “conduct their business everywhere.”

President Trump has used these terms to describe Jews directly, calling out George Soros for controlling “levels of power,” accusing Fed Chair Janet Yellen of focusing on “global special interests,” and claiming that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein follows “global powers structure.” Let us not forget, as well, that Trump tweeted an image of a Star of David atop a pile of money; he has posted an image of “pepe the frog,” the mascot of the White Supremacists; he has praised Henry Ford who was the most notorious anti-Semite in modern U.S. history; in a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day he removed the term “Jews” completely, and in a speech in Washington to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump stated, “I don’t want your money.”   The list goes on and on.   But the time of dog-whistles is over; we have moved to the possibility of government sponsored pogroms in our country thanks to the cold, frightening command of “Stand back, and stand by.”

The charismatic speeches and rallies held by Donald Trump over the past four years  are painfully reminiscent of the Jews’ greatest enemy, Adolf Hitler.  Just as those around Hitler knew that his actions would bring Germany to ruin, Trump’s surrounding advisors also, no doubt, understand the direction the country is heading under Trump’s rule.  In his early rallies, Trump asked the crowds to swear an “oath” which began the path of almost cult-like allegiance to this man.  Once the oath was taken by Trump’s followers, either explicitly, or implicitly by endlessly defending him, those who supported Trump reached a point of no return.  Trump’s supporters could never break allegiance to the man that promised them safety from “dangerous” illegal immigrants, the Muslims who were “terrorists,” and the Democrats who “hate this country.”  The dehumanization of all the “others” in America had begun and we have seen the terrifying result four years later.  All the while, Trump had, and continues to, dupe the Jews of America into submission by promising unending support for the State of Israel.  Those who are one-issue voters or read only the headlines misunderstand that his support for Israel comes not to please his Jewish voters but the larger Evangelical base who endorse Christian Zionism.

Blind to their own destruction, Jews who support Trump look the other way at all his comments, all the antisemitic work of his supporters, his choices of Messianic Rabbis for speeches, and the rise of Proud Boys, and other Neo-Nazi groups armed to the teeth.  This is to say nothing of the new NY Times bombshell that Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign banks and has paid little to no taxes.  Pushing the ideas of American individualism, the complete opposite of Jewish communal understanding, Trump’s cheating of the system is reminiscent of Rav Yehoshua Ben Korasch, who reminded us that, “One who turns his eyes from the need of Tzedakah is equated to one who worship idols.”

Yet, despite all this, Jews continue to somehow support this man.  Indeed, each day Jews who support Trump are forced to clean up the mess he and his White Supremacists make in America, on the streets of our cities, on social media, like the Sonderkommando squad of the gas chambers they do their job, all while muttering to themselves, “but he supports Israel.”

One can no longer deny that just as Hitler did in 1945 with Germany, it is clear that Donald Trump wishes all of a America to perish with him.  In the coming weeks we will most likely see more calls to violence, more subtle and not-so-subtle nods and winks by the President to his neo-nazi and white supremacist base, and we should fear nothing less than government sponsored pogroms and possible civil wars at the hand of this despot who wishes only to stay in power and destroy and dehumanize anyone who challenges him.  Jews who support Trump can no longer be so short sighted.  The day will come when his Proud Boys will come for us, just as he has come for hispanics, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, women, and anyone who disagrees with him.  And just as German Jewish war veterans of WWI were shocked to be rounded up, so will the MAGA Jews who cried “But we love him, he supports Israel!”

The time has come, long overdue, to step away from this man.   Forget the old poem, “first he came for…”  Trump has already come for the  Jews, you just have been too blind to see it.

About the Author
Rabbi Michael Harvey was ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 2015, and earned a Master’s degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University. Enrolled at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, within the Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies program. Founder of "Teach Me Judaism": educational and animated Jewish lessons on scholarship: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4vNAB0lVE4munW_znGdEtQ
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