Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Stop saying you'll move to Canada if Trump wins- American Jews already have a second home-Israel


Last month, Barbra Streisand announced to great fanfare that if Donald Trump wins the presidential election, she’ll move to Canada or Australia.

Threatening to emigrate, usually to Canada, if the Republican candidate wins is a quadrennial threat among liberals—both celebrity and not—who want to express their horror at a Democratic loss in November.

But it pains me when the one voicing the threat—whether Streisand, Lena Dunham, or one of my Facebook friends—is an American Jew. Because Jews already have a home ready to welcome them if they no longer feel comfortable where they’re living, and it’s not Canada.

In fact, Israel’s very raison d’etre is to serve as a haven for Diaspora Jews who feel they must emigrate.

Now, I’m not a Trump fan (I’m a conservative Republican voting for Hillary Clinton). Still, I don’t expect a Trump regime to lead to rough times for American Jews. But it is possible—and if things get tough for American Jews it is essential that they know Israel stands as a ready refuge.

Obviously, Streisand and Dunham are engaging in flights of rhetoric when they threaten to move to Canada. People making these threats almost never actually follow through. (I could find a record of only one prominent American—in fact a Jew—politico Pierre Salinger, to have made good on a promise to emigrate if a Republican won the presidency.)

But by not even mentioning Israel they “other” the country—as a faraway place with a foreign tongue and alien values. Balderdash. Modern transportation has shrunk the world; Israel works hard to help immigrants learn Hebrew; English is widely spoken in most of the country; and American ideals of democracy, freedom, equality, and diversity have broad expression—sometimes moreso than in the United States.

Look, I love Canada. I visited three times this year and plan to match that number, at least, next year. It’s a beautiful country with warm-hearted people proud of a multicultural history that has (mostly) embraced its Jewish population.

But it’s not home. It’s not even the ersatz United States the Streisands and Dunhams make it to be. If Jewish history has taught us anything, it’s that we should never get comfortable anywhere, because lands we thought loved us can turn on us. But the existential situation of the Jews is not what it was during the expulsion from Spain, the pogroms in Russia, and the November Pogrom (“Kristallnacht”). Because we now have an escape hatch, a safety valve, a permanent net. And talk to any Israeli, they’re proud to be ready to receive any Jew who needs them. 

So enough with the “I’ll move to Canada” babble. If thousands of American Jews—nay, millions of American Jews—need a refuge, the people of Israel stand ready. And they deserve a little gratitude.

Follow David Benkof on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.


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