This piece originally appeared on Informed Comment

Donald Trump on Tuesday attacked American Jews who vote for the Democratic Party (as 70%-80% of them do) as demonstrating “a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

What Trump meant has been widely debated and, in my view, misinterpreted. He wasn’t bringing up dual loyalty or accusing Jewish Democrats of being unpatriotic Americans. As Debra Sushan rightly observed, he was accusing Jewish American Democrats of being disloyal to Israel. He was simply stating the position of far right-wing Israeli parties, such as the ruling Likud of PM Binyamin Netanyahu.

The position is that for Israel to colonize the Palestinian West Bank and find a way to neutralize the Palestinians of Gaza, and to forestall forever any Palestinian state, is necessary to its long-term survival.

Therefore if one is loyal to the Israeli cause, one will support the Apartheid colonization of the Palestinians.

Israel can only exist as an ethnically supremacist Jewish-majority state.

To be Jewish is to be a loyal supporter of Israel-as-colonizer.

Without Israel-as-colonizer, all Jews would be in danger of being deprived of their basic human rights.

The Democratic Party either supports a two-state solution involving Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and cancellation of the blockade on Gaza, or its left wing supports a single binational state giving Palestinians rights of citizenship in Israel.

Therefore, the Democratic Party supports positions that endanger Israel-as-colonizer and in turn necessarily endanger world Jewry.

Therefore, you’d have to either be an ignoramus to vote Democratic if you are a Jewish American, or you must be a traitor to Israel (read as Greater Israel with its non-voting Palestinian subjects).

Again, this is the far right wing Israeli position, typical of the Likud and its allies.

This concatenation of essentially fascist premises also lies behind the charges launched against anyone who criticizes the Israeli colonization of the Palestinians as “anti-Semitic,” since the colonization is allegedly necessary to Israel and Israel is key to Jewish well-being. Actually, the colonization benefits a narrow band of Israeli corporations and billionaires and their American counterparts, in what Rashid Khalidi has called the “settler-industrial complex.” But it is also driven by extremist Jewish nationalism.

It is like saying that criticizing Mexican policy toward its indios or Native Americans means that you are an anti-Latino bigot and partially responsible for the El Paso massacre.

Why this farrago of self-serving illogic and the misuse of human rights discourse (anti-Semitism) to justify human rights abuses is taken so seriously in Washington, D.C., is one of the world’s great political mysteries.

It isn’t only in the United States that the far-right Iron Wall Zionists try to discipline public discourse. I’ve seen fair numbers of my Israeli academic friends hounded out of the country for their critiques of Israel’s policies on Palestinians. They’re accused of being traitors, blackballed, shouted at, and threatened with being fired. That is, they are accused of being disloyal. Sound familiar?

Moreover, these premises, which the Zionist right-wing attempts to impose on us all, are rejected by most Jewish Americans, according to a 2018 AJC poll.

Some 57% of Jewish Americans favor a two-state solution, which means relinquishing the Palestinian West Bank and removing at least a lot of Israeli squatters there or swapping territory with Palestine. Another 10% have no opinion. So only a third of Jewish Americans oppose a two-state solution, and only 18% strongly oppose it.

Some 59% of Jewish Americans believe Israel should be willing to dismantle some or all of the Israeli settlements

Even in Israel, a plurality, 44%, favor a two-state solution. And 8% don’t care. So there is not even an Israeli majority for the premise that holding onto the West Bank and Gaza is necessary for Israel to be Israel or for Israel to survive or however the far right wants to put it.

Many Jewish Americans do not agree with the other premises of the Likud Line, either. Some 17% do not agree that a thriving state of Israel is essential to the long-term future of the Jewish people.

Fully one-third of Jewish Americans do not consider Israelis “part of their family,” and 15% will only admit to being first cousins (could you get a $10,000 loan from your first cousin?) Perilously close to half of Jewish Americans don’t seem to feel a really close kinship to Israelis. This alienation is accelerating in the under-40 generation of Jewish Americans, since the racism and authoritarianism of Netanyahu are rather unappealing to them.

Trump is just repeating whatever his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, or maybe his son-in-law Jared Kushner, or perhaps his buddy Netanyahu have told him about Judaism and Zionism and the appropriation of “Judea and Samaria” (what the supremacists call the Palestinian West Bank). Trump doesn’t read books or know anything about the history of Israel or Palestine or American Jewry.

By ventriloquizing Netanyahu, however, he has inadvertently laid bare the actual view of Jewish Americans held by the Likud and similar ideological streams.


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