Trying to Understand

Dear Readers,

You do not need me to remind you that we are living in troubled times. Every day brings more sickness, violence and corruption. We are besieged by political, health and environmental catastrophes, day after day—-but of course, you already know that. I mention it only to contextualize the following: the resultant abundance of instinctual, rather than intelligent, behavior.

My example reflects my own position in life: I am a Jewish-American woman, child of the ’50s, now a senior citizen. I was raised in a middle-class neighborhood, had a Conservative Jewish synagogue affiliation, in a midwestern city. I graduated from college with a degree in sociology. I became a writer/teacher/editor, with many publications to my credit. And as writers are often advised to do–I write about what I know, this is the world I know: middle-class American Jewry.

Lots of changes for us — as kids we weren’t “rich” by today’s standards, but our parents were the first whole generation of Jews with money for clubs, travel, fine foods, luxuries only dreamed of by their parents. We had it easy, and we had fun. Our institutions flourished: UJF, Conservative and Reform synagogues, city and country clubs thrived. In the aftermath of the Holocaust in Europe there was enormous pride in the State of Israel.

If the Gentiles didn’t exactly seek out Jewish friends for socializing, so what? We may have felt the hurt of that but at the same time we had plenty of our own socializing, our own wonderful culture.

Among the many things everyone Jewish had in common was the Democratic Party. There were reasons. Our long standing love of liberal values. Truman’s public support of statehood for Israel. The appalling John Birch society! Lots of others, but suffice it to say, practically no one was a Republican.

I mention this now in the context of trying to understand today’s Jews and their lack of support for the only president who has actually done anything positive for the state of Israel.

Folks, Donald Trump has done what every former President* in our lifetimes either said/promised/or claimed he’d do, and more. Moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Secured the Golan Heights. Brokered a deal for peace/recognition/normalization of relations with the Arab Emirates. Simply stated–in a world full of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and Jew hatred, he may have an abrasive style and personality but he is a sincere, supportive friend.

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So how to explain the utter lack of appreciation on our part? What is the matter with American Jewry? I believe this is the most pertinent question that can be posed at this time. What’s wrong with us?

It’s not terribly complicated, actually. I’ve described the long-standing connection to the Democratic Party. As I wrote recently in response to a FaceBook post by Eyal Korach, for one thing “there is a strong emotional attachment to the Democratic Party …that just makes it easier to just fall into old patterns.”

And there are at least two other factors: what Mr. Korach identifies in his post as “political correctness” on the part of today’s liberal American Jews I further define as “virtue signaling.” Jews have been a besieged minority and virtue signaling has everything to do with a deep, fear-based need to belong.

This counts as a factor/partial explanation in a matter such as the blind acceptance of obvious and outrageous anti-Semitic material as Rolling Stones cover photo and story “Women Shaping the Future,” that features Nancy Pelosi with Ilhan Omar, Jahana Hayes and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. That image, while it cannot be reproduced here, is all over the Internet, and was what so enraged Eyal Korach, and many others.

Mr. Korach, frankly upset, notes that the “Democratic Party, with these leaders “has put out a hit contract against Jews, Israel…”

Then, friends, there is the broadcast media with its 24 hour news loop. (I agree that the “medium is the message,” as Marshall McLuhan brilliantly observed. ) And the message has been, from the very outset, the destruction of the Trump presidency, hands down. There is no question about this. In league with the Democrats on every attempt, from Stormy Jones to the impeachment fiasco they have been in lock-step, and have achieved much in dividing the country and perhaps destroying the Trump presidency. The exception here is Fox News, which to their credit, has given Trump a fair shake.

I leave the subject with a heavy heart. I’m saddened by the lack of real insight on the part of my people, but I don’t seek to cast blame. My challenge is to try to share something we all know all too well — please think beyond the brain-washing of CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times — because those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.

  • Other Presidents–Nixon, W. Bush, and Reagan, although they did not approach the level of support that Trump has, were consistently of help to Israel in financial and diplomatic matters.
About the Author
Judith R. Robinson is a visual artist, an editor, teacher, fiction writer and poet. She has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers and anthologies. She has taught and conducted workshops for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Winchester- Thurston School and Allegheny Community College. She currently teaches poetry for Osher at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
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