Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Over at the Times of Israel, Yehuda Kurtzer is agonising over the Trump the candidacy. First he wonders whether Trump could be recruited as an honorary Jew because of his daughter's supposed conversion (although it's probably best not to ask the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel about whether they consider her a Jew). Then he seems to realise that isn't going to fly, but declares that "his family relations bring him into the conversation of Jewish peoplehood". After this momentary flight of fancy, it's back to the nitty-gritty of opposing the Ogre who dares to think that Europeans have peoplehoods too. For this, Jews must ally with Muslims, as they have so often done before.
There will be time – God-willing, when the Trump candidacy falls short – for us to collectively interpret what went wrong in American society to reach this moment. I have been encouraged to see some of this kind of heshbon ha-nefesh, soul-searching, in my rational and reasonable Republican friends, and by their horror and shame about the ways in which larger ideological and political trends abetted by their party have made them complicit in the rise of candidate Trump. This makes me slightly optimistic that we may be able to make progress in reforming our political culture, which is now so broken and toxic. 
But these challenges – this web of culpability, complexity, and familiarity – invite the more urgent work right now of winning. This should take two forms. The most obvious form of winning is at the polls, and the fight against a ruthless, dishonest demagogue will be ugly and difficult. Trump has thrived on being underestimated throughout this campaign. 
The second piece of that urgent work is equally important, and that is a concerted campaign of outreach from the Jewish community, to Muslims, Latinos, and other minority groups threatened with social alienation, punitive collective retaliation, and other ruthlessness by Trump, and more disconcertingly, by his unchecked followers. 
This outreach must transcend mere empathy and include a commitment to shared organizing toward our shared goals. This is a moment for a collective patriotic responsibility — translated into strategy — for the society we value and need and which is being hijacked. We are in this together – both to win the election, and to have allies in the event that we lose. 
In this moment then, American Jewry can both act with purpose toward what is obviously right, and at the same time engage in a process of self-examination: about what it means to belong, who are our kindred political spirits, who represents us, how we advance our values, and what it means to inherit the Jewish past, while advancing the American Jewish future. 
American Jewish identity is publicly part of this election more than it has ever been before, and American Jews are implicated and challenged by the Trump phenomenon and forced to ask who we want to be in this story. Jewish history should not be merely prologue but a playbook; if the plan is executed properly, we could be reshaping how we see ourselves as American Jews for years to come.

In his next article, he has a special message for Muslims.
To my Muslim friends clad in the garb with which you identify your faith: I see you, and will strive to see you in the ways that you want to be seen. We owe you the civility of not judging your politics based your clothing, only your self-expression of choosing to live within the parameters of your faith. I hear stories from friends and colleagues about the urgency of taking off the hijab in America, of striving to be anonymous because of poorly masked, and sometimes completely naked, hostility towards Americans of the Muslim faith. This cannot hold, and it shames all of us. 
Second: to my Muslim brothers and sisters, it is okay to be afraid. In the Jewish community we have institutions whose primary, if not sole function is to be vigilant guardians against the specter of anti-Semitism. Some in the Jewish community may mock this protectionist industry, but we do so at our own peril; all too often in our history we have misjudged our degree of safety and security. A little anxiety during relative calm can be forgiven a people whose paranoia is hard earned. You too, Muslim Americans, are to be forgiven if the exigencies of the current reality force your communities to seek protection and allies against the threat of violence. Maybe our community can be of aid to your community, and can encourage self-confidence to emerge as part of, and in relationship to, the defensive mechanisms that any minority community needs in order to ensure its continued safety. 
Many Americans look too quickly to you to disavow a threat of violence committed by other Muslims, when it threatens you as much as if not more than anyone else. I commit to see you as vulnerable without being exploitative or patronizing; and to stand alongside you as you are bullied. 
And third: through my work over the last few years, I have learned an enormous amount about American Muslims: a community more ethnically diverse than any other American religious minority, a community that in its manifold diversities defies the homogenization implied in the very word “community,” a community that shares many descriptive adjectives and sociological realities with American Jews but is experiencing the birth of the 21st century with seemingly opposite fortunes. Now, I have self-interested needs that animate why I want to continue working with, learning from, and engaging with, American Muslims. But my third commitment is to remain curious about the complexities of your realities that defy the categories others and I might use to understand you. Engaging with the Other — any Other – often requires, painfully and paradoxically, reducing the Other to crude caricatures of character and lack of complexity simply to serve our heuristics of the world and its political agendas. What the world needs now — besides of course for love, sweet love — is more listening, and learning. 
It is a scary time; if it is scary for you, it is scary for all of us. But I genuinely believe that it might be through these kinds of commitments – and only commitments like these — that we may be able to get through it. And only then actually make America great again.


  1. I tend to read such writings as a smokescreen to disguise what has already been taking place for centuries before: the connivance of two ideologies, Judaism and Islam, the latter borne out of the first, aimed at creating a totalitarian empire, with all "Others" (most especially, Christians) reduced to enslavement, debthood, their ethnic and religious identities denigrated or destroyed. This writer would have gullible non-jews and non-moslems believe that this is a phenomenon which is only occurring now, in order to react against some imagined demagogue (Trump) when, in fact, the jews are supporting both sides in the US Presidential Election, as they have always backed both sides in any conflict with the result that both sides always ultimately loose and the jews win. Jews appreciate the violence and open intolerance of Moslems towards Christians, whilst they have proceeded with their own stealth 'jihad' through control of finance, media and politicians. The notion that they are 'scared' is all part of the phony victimhood meme. Jews already realise that there is dawning realisation in many quarters, amongst Christians, 'blacks' and Asians, as to who really pulls the strings and so these articles are meant to imply that Jews are only uniting with Moslems as a reaction against prejudice and to obfuscate that they have been aligned all along down the centuries. In the age of the internet, this charade has lost its usefulness.