President Donald Trump’s executive order issued Dec.11 would deny federal funds from schools that allow “anti-Semitism” on their campuses, including some anti-Israel activities. It is intended to squelch defense of — or even discussion about — Palestinian rights, and is the result of intense reactionary efforts to do so.
That same day, the New York Times published an op-ed by Jared Kusher, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, describing anti-Semitism as “targeting the state of Israel” and “claiming its existence is a racist endeavor.” He emphasized: “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” a view vehemently denounced by the growing global movement which opposes Israeli oppression of Palestinians, occupation of their lands, illegal settlements, evictions of families, blockade of Gaza and racism toward African migrants.
Trump’s dictate violates free speech rights by targeting campus groups that criticize Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies and oppose Washington’s political and financial support for Israel — to the tune of billions of dollars a year. It is specifically intended to suppress the burgeoning pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which has won campus victories throughout the U.S., as enumerated by National Students for Justice in Palestine.
The BDS campaign is “a Palestinian-led [global] movement for freedom, justice and equality, [which] upholds the principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.” (bdsmovement.net)
Jewish Voice for Peace said Trump’s order creates a “climate of fear,” with college administrations “incentivized” to silence student activism and teaching about Palestine, “while white supremacist organizing, which has been increasing under Trump, will go unchecked.”
Israel: oppressor nation, apartheid state
On July 19, 2018, Israel passed an even more discriminatory law than the 65 existing laws oppressing Palestinians. JVP responded that day: “The Nation-State law establishes that racist and discriminatory practices against Palestinians and non-Jews are legal, [that] only Jewish people have the right to self-determination, demotes Arabic from an official language … [and] places national value on the development of ‘Jewish settlement.’ ”
JVP Deputy Director Rabbi Alissa Wise added: “The Nation-State bill cements Israel as an apartheid state — from the West Bank to Gaza to Jerusalem to Haifa. Palestinians, no matter where they live, are controlled by an Israeli government and military that robs them of basic rights and freedoms.”
In March, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defined Israel as “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.” (npr.org, March 11)
Trump: pro-Zionist anti-Semite
Trump is aligned with the Israeli government, unsurprisingly, since U.S. imperialism has always supported the Zionist state. He moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights (part of Syria) and declared legal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which violate international law and flout U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Although the bigot-in-chief feigns concern about anti-Semitism, he resorts to anti-Jewish tropes himself. He even uses anti-Jewish stereotypes when appealing to Jewish audiences for support. His election campaign ran ads with anti-Semitic overtones.
In an affront to Jewish people, but in recognition of Trump’s evangelical Christian base, the White House featured two anti-Semitic ministers at a “Hanukkah” celebration following the executive-order-signing ceremony. Trump praised Pastor Robert Jeffress, who spoke there. Right-Wing Watch reported Jeffress said in 2011 that Jewish people, Muslims and gay people “are destined for Hell.” (Dec. 13)
Rev. John C. Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel, shockingly said, “The Holocaust was part of God’s plan to return the Jews to Israel”! (NY Times, Dec. 13) He and Jeffress prayed at the U.S. Embassy’s opening in Jerusalem.
And who can forget Trump’s calling neo-Nazis “very fine people” after they marched in Charlottesville, Va., chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” while carrying bats and torches and sporting swastikas.
Many progressive people call Trump a white nationalist, with good reason.
Super-rich promote bigotry
Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia and all bigotry are promulgated by the capitalist class which seeks to divide the multinational, multigendered working class and prevent its many sectors from uniting. Conservative politicians, white evangelicals and far-right groups spread this ideology, disseminated through social media and popular culture.
Individuals who assault Jewish people, often white male bigots, are also usually hostile to Muslims, people of African descent, Latinx immigrants, women and LGBTQ2+ people. Even if that isn’t the case, as in the recent attack at a Jewish-owned market in Jersey City, N.J., it shows the impact of anti-Semitism, as well as anger at police repression.
There has been a rise in hate crimes since Trump moved into the White House. His blatant promotion of racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hostility, and misogyny have emboldened the far right. The way to stop anti-Semitism is to build a strong multinational movement that opposes all forms of bigotry.
Durkin’s grandparents fled anti-Jewish pogroms in 1907 in Eastern Poland, then annexed by tsarist Russia.
(Photo credit: BDS Movement)