Allow me to start with a few definitions.
- Jew and Judaism refer to religion.
- Israeli and Palestinian refer to nationalities.
- Jewish Israelis are mostly from Europe, Russia and the U.S., and are Caucasian.
- You cannot declare a religion as a nationality by presidential decree.
But that is exactly what President Trump did. CNN reports that “President Donald Trump (signed) an executive order on Wednesday (December 11, 2019) to interpret Judaism as a nationality and not just a religion, a move that the Trump administration believes will fight what they perceive as anti-Semitism on college campuses.”
According to the White House, the president’s idea is that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires educational institutions receiving federal funding not to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Religion is not included in the federal statute. Evidently Trump believes he can change the law without going through Congress.
In reality, the reason for the presidential order is to secure the American Evangelical, and the orthodox and conservative Jewish vote next November. As with the decree that proclaimed that Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, is the capital of Israel, the only reason to do so is on the advice of the president’s religious advisors and the conservative Christians and Jews they represent.
The president and others of his ilk believe that those who belong to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements will somehow harm the Jewish population of Israel and on our college campuses, and encourages various boycotts against Israel for what they deem as violations of international law. That groups like American for Peace Now (APN) and the American sister organization of the Israeli Shalom Achshav will somehow harm the Christian preoccupation of the second coming.
In reality, many BDS movements are not against the people of Israel, but against the hawkish and super conservative national government, and its referendum that the captured Palestinian lands should become Israel’s and that the non-Jewish Palestinians should not have an autonomous land to call their own. BDS movements advocate for a secure two-state solution, which is contrary to the Evangelical Christian and conservative Jewish prophecies.
APN writes that their position is “calling for the creation of a viable Palestinian state, freezing and evacuation of settlements, and Jerusalem serving as the capital of both Israel and the future Palestinian state.” It believes that “the two-state solution as the only viable option for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…”
The climate of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. and, more specifically on American college campuses, has more to do with white nationalism than any movement to fight against the Israeli one-state solution.
White nationalism in America has been on the rise since the beginning of the Trump presidency.
There has been anti-Semitism since the before the reign of Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. In 70 C.E. the Roman Empire destroyed the Jewish State and most Jews were scattered throughout the ancient world. Today through intermarriage, conversion and migration, there are American Jews, Polish Jews, Spanish Jews, French Jews, Russian Jews and on.
Many who oppose the President’s executive order believe that such a decree will actually increase anti-Semitism in the United States. According to the Insider, “The loudest critics of the measure were Jews themselves, many of whom said that referring to Judaism as a nationality would only further fuel anti-Semitism.”
I agree with Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. She wrote:
“It is the height of hypocrisy for President Trump to sign an executive order (EO) that he claims will combat anti-Semitism. It’s also insulting that the signing of this EO is timed to correspond with the White House Hanukkah parties, to which only Republican members of Congress were invited.
“President Trump is more interested in symbolic gestures that politicize Israel and use Jews as political pawns than actually doing something meaningful to ensure our security and that of Israel. The timing of this signing reveals this is a PR stunt, plain and simple.
“If President Trump truly wanted to address the scourge of anti-Semitism he helped to create, he would accept responsibility for his role emboldening white nationalism, perpetuating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and repeating stereotypes that have led to violence targeting Jews.”
As a person of Jewish heritage, I agree with those opposed to the president’s executive order on a number of levels, with the most prominent being he is bypassing the Congress to make law, something I believe is yet another impeachable offense.
Laws are made to protect the minority from discrimination from the majority. They are not meant to placate the minority to vote for an individual if the law is tyrannical. Yes, anti-Semitism is on the rise, and colleges and universities are doing what they can to prevent the occurrences.
But to change the law by presidential executive order for an advantage at the polls is simply wrong.