During this season of reflection, while everyone obsesses over Donald Trump’s sexcapades, Jewish Americans would be wise to take a step back from Election 2016 and take a good, hard look at how both sides of the political aisle have treated us and caused us to treat each other this go-round.
In a 2011 article published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, politically conservative Jewish radio host Benyamin Korn reflected upon the scores of Jews populating conservative new media, concluding:
Certainly there is another reason why Jews, per se, have attracted so little notice in the conservative new media: the change in American conservatism itself. Ethnically diverse and intellectually formidable, today’s conservatism is reliably pro-Israel, comfortably Judeo-Christian and for the most part promotes a nuanced social conservatism.
In a movement that is credible and hospitable to American Jews, and from which the ethno-centrism of yore is largely absent, Jewish journalists will flourish.
At least until the rise of the alt-Right. Fast-forward five years and it would appear that conservative new media has turned on its own, with sites like Breitbart (whose former executive chairman now runs the Trump campaign) being used to weed out Jewish Republicans unwilling to toe the party line. Weird anti-Semitic memes like Pepe the Frog have trended among Trump supporters and an army of faceless anti-Semites has taken to Twitter and other social media outlets on Trump’s behalf. The anti-Semitism on the Right is so overwhelming in fact that many Jews have left the Republican Party altogether, receiving farewells that boil down to, Don’t let the door hit you in the tuchus on the way out.
And then there are the “lists,” the kind of which this side of the globe hasn’t talked about since we defeated Hitler. Lists of Jewish supporters and detractors have become de rigueur as have baseless accusations and even omissions of ignorance within the Jewish community. There have been so many articles written by Leftists accusing Jewish Republicans of turning a blind eye to alt-Right anti-Semitism that meme-lists have been generated to remind social media users which Jews on the Right initiated the Never Trump movement. Perhaps this is because right-wing Jewish journalists who’ve been the object of anti-Semitic backlash for their anti-Trump stance are conveniently forgotten when organizations like the Anti-Defamation League rush to defend GQ writers at the expense of the Jewish Republican Never Trump crowd.
The Jewish Left hasn’t only turned a blind eye to the persecution taking place on the Right. Within their own ranks a serious civil war is brewing that will decide whether or not Jewish Americans will continue to find a political home among Democrats. The Sanders campaign did more to bring socialism to the forefront of the American Left than ever before. Consequently, Jewish millennials are re-evaluating the generations-long relationship between Judaism and socialism, often opting for the latter over the former. Radical socialists have already issued calls for a purge within the party. It would seem that Trump’s fleeting existence is a fleeting distraction delaying the inevitable.
So, what of the political future of American Jewry? The one thing that 2016 has made clear is this: Jewish Americans are not welcome among the political elite on the Left or the Right. For the first time in my lifetime, Jewish Americans who make no bones about identifying as Jews, whether they are Orthodox in practice or Zionist in outlook, are being given the cold shoulder by the political establishment at large.
And that is a very scary thing.
Image via The Reagan Battalion.