Being a Jew in Trump's America

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt”

            ~Leviticus 19:34

I’m not the most religious individual, and I feel weird opening with a Bible quote. However, I wanted to write on the topic of being a Jew in Trump’s America, especially in the wake of the horrific ban placed into effect the other day. I felt it appropriate to pull this passage from the Old Testament, a series of books embraced by both Judaism and Christianity. This quote tells us to accept those who are strangers in our land as though they are natives, one of us. It tells us to remember that once we were foreigners ourselves. I think this is important to remember, along with the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you), and I think these ideas are worth embracing.

A few months before the election, someone I worked with asked me who I, as a Jew, would be voting for. I don’t like talking politics at work so I brushed the question off. A response along the lines of “eh, well I would rather not discuss that.” Their response was to tell me that Trump was the obvious choice for the Jewish Community, not just in America, but the whole world over. I distinctly remember asking how they could reconcile a vote for someone who wanted to ban a group of people; did they not remember the lessons of the Holocaust? They told me that something like that was “just talk” and it would “never happen.” Well it did happen, and it happened on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which the cynic in me loves, because irony. On a day when we should be embracing those running from death, opening our borders to those in need, we shut them out and turned them away. “We are not a land of inclusion,” we told them, “so go back to your life of fear and insecurity.”

In the statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Trump administration neglected to mention the six million that died at the hands of a fascist, totalitarian regime. Their claim was that it was to be inclusive to the rest that died. Yet there was no mention of the more than two million Roma citizens or the thousands of gay, disabled, or otherwise unfortunates who were killed either. This is Holocaust revisionist denial. This is practically saying that the deaths were unimportant because a lot of others died in World War II. This does not get a pass; this is unacceptable from anyone, ever. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; this is an organization that has appointed a KKK sympathizer to the National Security council, whilst simultaneously removing both the Joint Chiefs of staff and the Director of National Intelligence. This is not a presidency built on inclusion, and this is not a presidency built with the interests of the Jewish People in mind. We may not be under threat at this point, and we may be safe for now, but when Trump decides that the Jews pose a danger, either to his power or his business, then we will be next.

I find it important in my life to strive to be tolerant. I feel that is a central tenant of what I was taught growing up Jewish. I try my best to learn from the lessons of the past, and I do what I can to support the efforts of the State of Israel. My birthright was one of the pivotal moments in my growth as a young adult. The state of Israel exists because in the 1930s Germany elected a man to power much in the same way we elected Donald Trump. My grandfather spent his whole life fighting for Israel and for the Jewish People. If he was alive today, if he saw this ban enacted, he would be sick. He would be outraged. He would tell me that it was my duty as a Jew and a member of this global community to take a stand. In Donald Trump’s America, he would tell us, the only proper way to be Jewish would be to protest, to complain against these terrible affronts against our fellow humans and global citizens.

The Torah teaches us to love thy neighbor, and as part of a global community, our Muslim neighbor deserves to be loved as much as our Jewish and Christian neighbors. I do not see how we can, as a people, support anyone who refuses to learn from the lessons that resulted in the deaths of six million Jews. Just because they aren’t hunting us now does not mean that the time is not upon us. First, they may have come for the Muslims, and it is our responsibility as Jews and as decent human beings to speak up for them. That way, when they come for us, there will be those left to speak up.