Is the ‘Trump Virus’ about to shatter Jewish unity in the U.S?

Israel Policy Forum writer asks: What long-term effects will Trump’s policy have on how Jewish-Americans view themselves?

August 3, 2019 02:48
1 minute read.
Israel US

Trump, Netanyahu and Obama. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Why is it that when American-Jewish groups ask US President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, they are painted by some Jewish activists as “trashing” Israeli democracy? Israel Policy Forum writer Michael J. Koplow, asked this question, and his answer is that Trump skillfully “exploits” divisions within the Jewish community to promote his own agendas, mainly to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to paint the Democrats as anti-Jewish and anti-Israel.

Koplow further asks: Why is it such a terrible thing for American citizens to ask their president to say whether he supports of a two-state solution?

After all, he writes, in 2015, Netanyahu gave a speech in Congress in which he criticized the policy of then-US president Barack Obama regarding Iran – and nobody thought this was disrespectful to American democracy. Instead, he claims, “it was lauded as an act of bravery."

After Netanyahu spoke in Congress, Nancy Pelosi said that his speech was “an insult to the intelligence of the US.” One American official said that, “simply demanding that Iran completely capitulate is not a plan.”

Claiming that one cannot hold the stick at both ends, meaning that Jewish-American groups are “out of bounds” when talking about Israeli issues but are also expected to “support anything that the Israeli government does,” he goes on to warn that these arguments over policy can morph into “something larger.”

Pointing out that Obama “did not view American Jews as little more than an extension of Israel” – in contrast to Trump, who speaks of Netanyahu to American Jews as “your prime minister” – Koplow warns that political lines might lead to Jewish communal lines: 
Separating Jewish groups that Trump invites to the White House Hanukkah party from those not invited to attend.

Koplow suggests that it is unwise for Jewish-Americans to allow non-Jews to define for them who is within the Jewish fold and who isn't – and that Jewish strength rests in the notion that the Jewish people are more than politics.

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