Richard Robertson
Academic, Writer, Advocate.

Wake Up! You Cannot be a Jewish Republican

Unknown Pro-Trump Protester at the United States Capitol Building Wearing an Anti-Semitic Sweatshirt (Jan 6th 2021)

After the events that unfolded in and around the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on January 6th, 2021, I firmly believe that it is no longer conscionable for members of the American, and to the lesser extent global Jewry, to be supporters of the Republican Party (GOP) in the United States of America. The GOP has denigrated over the course of the Trump administration into the political manifestation of not just the right wing components of the American democracy but of far more sinister and undemocratic factions. Donald Trump’s abhorrent and rhetorical condemnation of the action’s of whatever you want to call those who act like neo-fascist cowards yet remain so ignorantly naïve as to call themselves patriots has made the GOP contemporaneously synonymous with these entities.

Donald Trump was a racist disseminator of misinformation long before he was president, one need only look at his “advocacy” during the trials of the Central Park Five to understand such. As president, he has consistently and unashamedly linked his name and that of the party he was elected to represent to neo-Nazi, neo-fascist, and ethno-nationalist movements. Charlottesville was just the metaphorical and highly publicized tip of the iceberg. The make up of his supporters is a confusing mishmash of political and socio-economic viewpoints, but some form of anti-Semitism seems to be a profound common denominator amongst them all. Yet, there remains an entrenched cohort of Jews who continue to vocally support the soon to be ex-president and his GOP.

It is true that not all Republicans share the views of Mr. Trump and his growing band of extremist supporters. The number of Republicans to denounce the Trump Administration and its actions has been growing since the President failed to secure a second term for himself in September. However, as a new era opens in American politics later this month when Joe Biden is inaugurated as the nation’s next President, I implore my fellow Jews to consider the suggestion of the philosopher George Santayana who implored that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As Jews, we do not have the luxury of forgetting our past. The concept of Never Again, which must be embodied by every member of the faith, requires that those who enable for anti-Semitic vitriol to be disseminated by those who profess an adherence to neo-Nazism to be universally rejected by our faith. We cannot tolerate and accept from our political leaders anything but the proactive condemnation and confrontation of all form of anti-Semitism.

The Republican party should have an opportunity to redeem itself and to restore its position as a key component of the American democracy, but until its leaders actively undertake to denounce the actions of and to remove the associations to anti-Semitic institutions that have become synonymous with the contemporary Republican Party under the Trump administration, there can be no such pardon. We need not look far back in Jewish history to find morbidly profound examples of the impact that bystanders can have on the fate of their neighbors. Those within the Republican caucus, pragmatically for their own political gain, allowed their party, one that promised a renewal of the American heartland to its most vulnerable citizens, to be dragged into the political gutter where it became bloated by the caustic substance that is ultra nationalism.

Yet, certain right wing American Jews continued to support Donald Trump and Republican Party.  Even after their supporters chanted that the “Jews will not replace” as they marched in an odd effort to invoke their best SS learns the hula choreography, attacked Jewish places of worship, and professed their belief in conspiracy theories that assert that Jewish political and economic leaders were at the head of a cabal, along with leading American Democrats, to sexually abuse children and drink their blood. They, just like those in the party that stood by and watched as it’s image as the voice of the American right was sullied, are culpable not only for the misfunctioning of their own entity but in the proliferation of anti-Semitic discourse it has failed to condemn.

It does not matter that Trump was “good” for American business and it certainly doesn’t matter that he chose to narcissistically meddle in Middle Eastern affairs. Congratulations, the Abraham Accords were signed and Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The cons still vastly outweigh the pros. The recent path to normalization was paved by the heroic and persistent actions of Israeli bureaucrats and civil servants. The process towards stable relations commenced prior to and will continue long after the Trump administration has concluded. As for Jerusalem, it is my opinion that the handout wasn’t worth the association with the man or his party. I personally do not understand how some can criticize Prime Minister Netanyahu, who occupies a role I believe to be amongst the most arduous on the planet, while making excuses for Trump’s gaffes; because while you know, Jerusalem.

If Donald Trump brought peace to the Middle East and ended anti-Semitism internationally, I would be the first to laud him and may even consider immigration. However, this will never occur, because it is not his Modus Operandi. His goal is power, and his foray into Middle Eastern affairs was as a megalomania and not as a protector of Israel or of the Jewish people. It is time to accept him for what he is, a man so desperate for authority and stature that he was willing to accept into his ranks the most vile of adherents. Israel can and will do better and has never needed such an inauthentic champion.

I do not believe that Donald Trump is an ethno-nationalist, nor do I believe that the vast majority of the Republican Party’s membership are either. Still, they are all guilty of allowing ultra-nationalist ideals to flourish and as a result were complacent in allowing anti-Semitic views and institutions to burgeon during the last four years. This has been an increasingly undeniable and apparent trend visible to any outside observer, but after the events of last Wednesday even the most jaded of Jewish Americans must wake up and smell the literal shit disseminating from within the corridors of the Capitol. The Republican Party does not want you and you should not want anything to do with them.

I try to operate with a open mind and am a supporter of the usage of the Socratic method, but the anti-Semitism on display as the Capitol was raided in a blatant affront to democracy was so polemically severe and visible that the following can no longer be refuted. The American far right, that triumphed by the current president, and at the least passively enabled by the inactions of or at the most endorsed by the GOP, is anti-Semitic. 

This is simply the only conclusion that one can come to when they review the evidence of the past week. You cannot break bread with those who call themselves National Socialists of any ilk and claim to support the Jewish people; less than a century ago their predecessors tried to systematically annihilate us from the face of the earth. No one cares if you support Israel if you publicly voice your pride for a pathetic mob containing those wearing Swastikas and shirts emblazoned with “6MWE” (6 Million Wasn’t Enough) and announce to the group that contained the scum bag in the “Camp Auschwitz” T shirt that you love them.

Wake up, it is no longer acceptable to be a Jewish Republican. If you don’t believe me, just call up one of your compatriots from the demonstration at the Capitol. I am sure the conversation will go smoothly and that you will come away feeling accepted as member.

About the Author
Richard Robertson was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is a proud Thornhillian. He holds a Juris Doctor (Dalhousie University, 2017) and is presently a graduate student in York University's Department of History where his research focuses on the field of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He is a member of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies and is presently a Research Associate at the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Center for Jewish Studies at York University.
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