By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Gideon Levy is arguably the most radical journalist writing in a mainstream newspaper in Israel. Despite my subversive leanings I find it difficult to take most of his Ha’aretz columns. But I’d like to make an exception for the piece he wrote in his paper on November 20. It’s called, “Suddenly it’s not too bad to be an anti-Semite.”
The reference is to the way the Jewish Right, in Israel and abroad, has embraced the people in the entourage of Donald Trump despite their clear anti-Semitic record. “Suddenly,” Levy writes, “it’s possible to differentiate between racism and anti-Semitism.” According to this doctrine the real anti-Semites are only on the Left; those on the Right aren’t “real” anti-Semites.
And it’s not just extremists who hold this view. Judging by pronouncements by the celebrated champion of Jewish causes in the United States, Alan Dershowitz, and Israel’s ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer, about Stephen Bannon, who has a long history of anti-Judaism – his ex-wife has even stated that he refused to send their children to a school where there were Jews – they whitewash anti-Semites as long as they make favourable pronouncements about Israel.
The Israeli Right, spearheaded by Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi – but by no means only by them – seems to ignore the fact that anti-Semites have often sought a “solution” to their Jewish problem by insisting that Jews should leave their realm and live in a country of their own. There are many compelling reasons for Aliyah, but that should never be one of them.
Being an anti-Semite and pro-Israel seems thus to go well together in the eyes of Jews who should know better. It was painfully documented, for example, in the “message” that the American-Jewish journalist Hadas Gold received recently: “Aliyah or line up by the wall, your choice.”
One of the reasons why the Israeli Right and its Jewish supporters abroad have chosen to turn a blind eye to the anti-Semites around Trump seems to be linked to their belief that once he is in the White House they’ll be able to do what they want with Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular. This seems to be a good enough reason for them to declare some anti-Semites to be kosher.
Hence the two laws they’re now championing in the Knesset and for which they may get a majority: (1) to legalize retroactively illegal settlements, including Amona which Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that it has to be removed – thus reflecting Trump’s alleged anti-Arab views – and (2) to forbid the muezins in the mosques in Israel to proclaim through their loudspeakers times for early morning prayers – thus reflecting his anti-Muslim pronouncements. Never mind democracy, the rule of law and the equal rights of all citizens. And never mind Jewish teachings.
Much is being written about the universal impact of Trump’s ascendance to power. The above is an illustration of how it’s already affecting the Jewish world. But the issue is much larger. In the words of Shany Mor writing in Fathom inline journal, “the Trump campaign constitutes a big step in the re-normalisation of antisemitism in democratic politics in the West.”
We may indeed be facing a new world order. It’s not one that we Jews should be looking forward to.