I confess that I dislike clichés. The reason why they become clichés is because they happen so many times, people keep repeating them.
This brings up a topic that has been irking me for many months. Ever since Donald J. Trump’s simplistic and embarrassing dangerous statement proclaiming that if he becomes president he will ban all Muslims entering this country until we find out what is going on, I not only got angy but very sad.
The angry emotion came from our past national bigotry and present day demagoguing. The sign of ultimate weakness in a leader is to divide people between “us and the others,” as if this will be a productive policy that will have a happy outcome. Really? If you think in just a non-partisan manner, there is no logic to that theory. It makes certain assumptions that are virtually impossible to do in the world we live in today.
We are a global economy and commerce requires travel to all nations. In addition, if we were to brand an entire religion a danger who we should be frightened about, I wonder how the rest of the world would react? I thought America is the leader in values?
Now pardon me, this is for the ladies and gentleman living in Alabama whose idea of international affairs is eating Tiramasu. There are 1.5 billion “with a ‘B'” Muslims in the world compared to around 330 million Americans. That is almost 5 Muslims for every American. Worse, even to break it down in terms of Americans and Muslims is even more deplorable, but for a slogan and fear based electorate, the key is to dumb it down and blame their problem on “the others.” Here is a news alert, all Muslims are not terrorist! Better yet, American Muslims have adopted to American culture un-like in Europe. There are thousands of American Muslims fighting in our military against the Jihadist in the Middle East right now. They, just like all of the military, are owed a debt of our gratitude. How low and classless must Trump go to make these people now feel they are not as American as everyone else.
Hey Donald….go fight in the military. Oh wait, that is right, he was a coward who got out of the draft because of his so-called military contribution in a prep school with assistance from his wealthy father. Everything that Trump says is dangerous and everything he ever did was weak. This is not a person who Americans should admire. I will take an American Muslim serving our nation in the military everyday of the week to look up to, and so should you. You have your freedom because of their service to this country.
Where did common sense go? Where in history are there examples of ostracizing and entire group being a winning idea? We must fight off irrational and offensive fear or we are doomed as a nation. If we are just going by statistics, we lose one American every two days by virtue of terrorism inside the United States! If you want to live in a risk free world, there is no such place. Over reaction to a problem that is not an existential threat is many time worse than embracing it. How many people do we lose in car accidents every day? How many people walk across a street and die? What is the death rate to carcinogens from coal-burning? The point is that knee jerk reactions are bad policies, and worse, very dangerous when and if one of us becomes “the others.”
Now lets come full circle to an American Jew embracing Donald Trump. I know many Jewish people who are quite smart, and some of those are staunch supporters of the State of Israel. I respect these people but I am at a loss to understand why they do not see him as a danger to themselves?
Of all people in America, the Jews are a group of people who have experienced the worst of demagoguery and its horrific results. My family was one of the founding members of the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center on Long Island, New York. We remember the disaster to our people and our close extinction. We, more than all others, should be not only horrified but actively vocal in the support of the Muslim community in the United States. Could you imagine if Donald Trump said that from this point forward no Jews would be allowed into this country? Now I don’t know of a Jewish Jihadist. The closest Jewish terrorist I can think of is a Jewish chef who purposely overcooked brisket at a Bar-mitzvah for the two hundred guests and all had to wash it down with seltzer by being unconscionably too dry. The point is that we must never allow a demonization of any group.
It is OK to have selective profiling when true risks are ascertained. Likewise, it is wise to make sure that people coming from areas that have terrorists be screened even more. But to go to the extent of painting a broad brush on a religion is a leap to far.
Many Jews in America have fallen into a state of complacency. They think it is ok to ban one religion, yet they will always be immune to it. I highly doubt that. Once a nation becomes divided amongst religious lines, nothing good can come out of it. The Jewish population in the U.S is around 3%. We are a minority group. In Nazi Germany, they needed a group to blame for their economic woes. So, they blamed the Jews who had the wealth. The Jewish people didn’t even have a terrorist group at the time to at least try to link the two together. In America, the Jewish people have an enormous amount of the wealth and success. At the very least, we should honor the constitution and the ideals it stands for: “We are one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Does that sound like the message of Donald Trump? Does anyone believe that a nation of immigrants would be this great by reversing that policy based on religion? It is not only offensive, it is wholly un-American. That is right. This policy that Trump is advocating is not what we stand for and not American. I want to live in America, the land of the free and the brave, and not in a land of hate and blame based on groups of people. That is what some pro-Trump Jewish people are unknowingly advocating.
The last exclamation on this point is how the leader of Israel reacted to Trump’s statement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not a left wing liberal. He is on the far right of Israeli politics and takes a strong stance on terrorism committed by Islamic Jihadists.
Donald Trump planned a trip to Israel late December 2015. When Bibi heard his statement, he was one of the first to condemn it. He realized that a policy and attitude like that to alienate all muslims would be a danger to the world, and most importantly, to the State of Israel. He made it known to Trump very clearly that he did not have his support at all. Suddenly, a week later, Trump’s trip to Israel was cancelled. It was a stunning and profound statement for the leader of Israel not wanting to meet with Trump based on his mindset and dangerous words.
I think if some American Jews still support Trump, they really need to look at the example of Benjamin Netanyahu and their own history much more carefully. We chant the slogan, “Never again.” Supporting Trump puts us one step closer to “Here we go again.”