US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The narrative is simple: Trump is responsible. For all of it! This has been the prominent tune being played throughout the American Jewish community since the November election.
Actually, it began when Donald Trump began his run for the presidency.
Specifically, this is what we heard: Trump caused the uptick in antisemitism. Threats have come out to the woodwork because of a tone that Trump has set. We heard from liberal leaders and lay leaders, in sermons, newsletter and emails about the need to stand up and prevent the rise of this new antisemitism being sponsored by the new president.
Now, with two examples in hand, it is clear that the threats against the Jewish community did not come from the alt-right or neo-Nazis.
The first realization should have come two weeks ago when Juan Thompson, a Hispanic American, a leftist former journalist, was arrested for having called in several of the bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers. But conspiracy theorists are a tough group, they hang on to their beliefs and are not easily swayed by facts.
Thompson was written off as a crazy. His arrest made not even the slightest chink in the narrative about Trump and his sponsorship of antisemitism.
Thompson was considered an aberration. The more we learned about his past, the more irrelevant his arrest became. And after all, Thompson was only responsible for a few of the threats... the real antisemites were still out there.
They were making the lion’s share of the threats, and the number of threats was growing, not shrinking – and it was Trump’s fault.
Then the arrest of this American/ Israeli left people with jaws dropped. There was heartfelt astonishment within the Jewish world that a Jew with dual citizenship could be responsible for these threats. Then the Internet – and my personal email box – filled with questions asking for explanations of what we all thought unfathomable.
There is no question that something is amiss with the teenager from Ashkelon.
Explaining his motivations is the job of defense and prosecution attorneys, and psychiatrists.
But what is as unfathomable as his actions is the reaction of the anti-Trump camp.
His arrest has not led to any reevaluation of the standard narrative of Trump as the progenitor of this new antisemitism.
In response to serious questions about why there has been no change in the narrative the standard, knee-jerk response is that Trump set the stage that enables antisemites and it is he who gives antisemites legitimacy because he did not shut them down. Then come references to candidate Trump’s “endorsement” by the Ku Klux Klan.
The assertion is that after the statement of endorsement by the former grand wizard of the KKK, Trump did not immediately recognize the name or reject the endorsement.
The tone has become pretty ugly. The situation borders on the extreme. For instance, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a bastion of liberal Judaism, Trump supporters hide their support. They are silent so as not to be derided as Neanderthals by other members of their synagogues, temples, health clubs and local Starbucks.
Discussions about politics are commonplace on street corners in Manhattan, but Trump supporters know not to say anything on the street for fear of provoking a loud response – complete with arm waving, finger wagging and general gesticulations.
I have witnessed conversations on Broadway that received ugly stares and glances of disgust from passersby.
I have had to ask people to lower their voices and even to change the subject in conversation with me because strangers were gathering, ready to jump in and join us.
Let’s be clear: President Trump is not an antisemite. He did not set the stage for antisemitism.
If he never ran for the presidency, there would still be antisemitism. The reality is that antisemitism is finding its way into more and more socially acceptable environments and the timing simply coincides with Trump’s election.
And people have a tendency to find easy answers for complicated issues. So they blame Trump.
There are real antisemites out there. Some of them voted for Trump, but that does not mean Trump supports them. Trump – the man and the president – is deeply insulted each time the canard is raised and he is labeled antisemitic. And rightly so. And not just because of his children and grandchildren. He should be insulted because he simply isn’t antisemitic. And the proof is his children and grandchildren who are a direct result of his openness to Jews and Judaism.
Trump is not the problem.
The time has come for the Jewish community to realize and accept that truth. Identify real threats. See Trump for who he is. He is not a threat, he is a resource.The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @Micah- Halpern.