On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump announced plans to sign an executive order that defines Judaism as a nationality in a major escalation of the right-wing’s pet campaign to squash out criticism of Israel’s appalling human rights record under the hood of “fighting anti-Semitism” on college campuses.
The sweeping action by the president sidesteps Congress and allows the federal government to police speech on college campuses using federal funding as a weapon, using guidelines so broad that many activists fear that any expression of support for Palestinian human rights or political self-determination or demands for peaceful protestors to not be shot by snipers using bullets deliberately designed to maim could be characterized as “anti-Semitism” — which, of course, is the ultimate aim of the radical far-right evangelist and Zionist groups behind the imaginary crisis of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Many prominent Jews are arguing that President Trump’s executive order itself is anti-Semitic for equating Judaism with the state of Israel itself, otherizing American Jews and playing into the “dual loyalty” tropes prominent in the anti-Semitic white supremacist ideas that his worst supporters love so much.
Start to finish this is maybe the worst & most dishonest article I’ve ever wasted 4 minutes reading. It’s a hideous cover-up of an order that itself is antisemitic. It’s entirely about shutting down criticism of the Israeli government & its racist atrocities towards Palestine. pic.twitter.com/Jcr5R6d8gV
— Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) December 11, 2019
Trump has previously engaged in the “dual loyalty” tropes himself, having previously said that the vast majority of American Jews are disloyal and ignorant for not voting for the GOP.
Just a few days ago, he told the American Israeli Council summit that “you’re not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax.”
Now Trump is back out here pretending to care about American Jews with a disgustingly disingenuous attack on the First Amendment and on the rights of American students to protest the discriminatory, undemocratic, and inhumane policies that Israel imposes on its Palestinian minority, fueled by billions in American taxpayer dollars.
Jewish activists on social media were quick to speak out in protest of the move:
As we respond to Trump's antisemitic attempt to redefine Jews as a "nationality we have to remember this is also directed at shutting down Palestinian student activism on college campuses and protecting the Israeli government from critique. We need to resist this together.
— Rebecca Pierce #BlackShabbat (@aptly_engineerd) December 11, 2019
We're being gunned down in our synagogues, Mr. President. How about some action on that front, instead of penalizing colleges for the opinions of children who don't like Israel? https://t.co/pFUnw5GjXY
— Batya Ungar-Sargon (@bungarsargon) December 10, 2019
We live in an age where Jews who support BDS are anti-Semites and white nationalists who back Israel are not https://t.co/8ktQMbWIqS
— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor) December 10, 2019
It is really, *really* frightening for us to be defined as a nationality. The trope of "dual loyalism" is classic antisemitism. It encourages people to view American Jews as professing greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States– thereby making us untrustworthy. https://t.co/PyuqK1lLZX
— Rabbi Emily Cohen (@ThatRabbiCohen) December 10, 2019
Trump has rebuked well-intentioned concerns over Stephen Miller's white nationalism but is pursuing this which has nothing really to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with using cries of anti-Semitism as a cudgel to silence the pro-Palestinian campus movement. https://t.co/XJLzGVEr6N
— jordan (@JordanUhl) December 10, 2019
When my grandfather was born in Romania in 1925, Jews had only recently been granted citizenship in that country, the last holdout in Europe on “the Jewish question.” Before the French pressured the Romanians to do so, Jews were considered “aliens” in the land of their birth.
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) December 10, 2019
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.