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

Two book reviews of '(((SEMITISM))): Being Jewish in America In the Age of Trump,' by Jonathan Weisman


December 7, 2018

The Roth Family JCC will host author Jonathan Weisman at its second Literary Events series. The following reviews were written by community members, and aren’t official JCC statements, but reflect the thoughts of two community members who are interested in Weisman’s upcoming visit on Dec. 21, with a 6 p.m. VIP dinner and lecture at 7 p.m. at the Roth Family JCC. (Lecture is $15 ($10 JCC members) and VIP dinner and hardcover copy of his book, $49)

Yes, the Trump presidency has fueled the flames of anti-Semitism in America

By Susan R. Miller.

If you think that Donald J. Trump doesn’t have anything to do with the vocal and physical rise of anti-Semitism in America, you are mistaken. Just follow Andrew Anglin who has been widely quoted as calling Trump “Glorious Leader” and “Humble Philosopher,” and William Regery who said, “I think Trump was a legitimizer.” “White nationalism went from being a conversation you could hold in a bathroom, to the front parlor.”

Weisman wrote also that the seeds of conflict were thought to have begun in 2013. He wrote that Trump was a perfect vehicle to carry the movement through the Internet. “Between August 2015 and July 2016, there were 2.6 million tweets with anti-Semitic language, seen 10 billion times, equivalent to a $20 million Super Bowl ad. Eight hundred journalists received anti-Semitic tweets, but 83 percent were sent to the ten targets.” Twitter played a major role as a window into Trump’s “id,” his ugliest thoughts. History was repeating itself and anti-Semitism finally had fertile ground to grow and fester. If anyone else had run for president it would have been so much harder for the movement to take traction. Trump is the Lindberg and Ford of our time, maybe not specifically toward Jews, but hate is hate. He is hailed as being a Washington outsider and a man of the people. But which people? His messages consistently instills fear, hate toward the press, anti-immigration policies, crime and nationalism as opposed to globalism, suppression of women by white males, all in 140 characters or less.

Because of the anonymity of the Internet, the Alt-Right was a, “mass movement that could have only existed on the Internet.” Weisman wrote, “The Alt-Right is an online mob of disenfranchised and mostly anonymous, mostly young white men.” In my opinion, this fact echoes the rise of young German men, blindly following a leader in a way that flies in the face of what an American president is supposed to be. For example, in Mobile, Alabama, there were flyers circulating “TRUMP, like it or not, he is our president. He is trying to stop illegal immigration, and the influx of Muslims that murder people. He is trying to lower the national debt and put America back to work. He has done more in the time that he has been in office than Obama did in his entire eight years of office. Start supporting your president. Join us now. Only white Christians need apply.”

So much of the debate of whether or not Trump’s presidency has anything to do with the rise of anti-Semitism seems to go back to the justification that there was anti-Semitism with the previous presidents isn’t new and that Trump supports Israel and that his son-in-law and daughter are Jewish.

Trump’s allegiance to Israel and the hate toward Jews are like apples and oranges and should not be compared to each other on any level of the debate. The U.S.A. is loyal to Israel for political reasons. The Alt-Right is especially supportive of Israel. American citizens love and support Israel and in fact, there is an ongoing battle over who loves Israel more, Jews or Christians. The debate on the Iran deal split the Jewish community in half and help fueled pro-Trump supporters among the Jewish community. Prominent Jewish people and organizations such as AIPAC and Zionist organizations sided with Trump on the anti-Iran deal and contributed money to his campaign. Today Jewish people identify more with the Jewish State rather than religion and culture. Only 19 percent of Jewish people polled identify with observing Jewish laws, 43 percent believe caring for Israel is more important. So, while we are busy supporting Israel and cheering that Trump is doing more for Israel than Obama, we are taking our eyes off the ball and making anti-Semitism more palatable.

I have been an observer of both sides my entire life. I am an assimilated Jew who has grown up listening to Holocaust and anti-Semitism stories since I could speak, which didn’t mean much at the time. I watched movies and heard my parents talk about their own experiences or listened to my grandfathers first-hand accounts of what happened. But now, at middle age, I read and hear these racist stories and compare them to the ones I have heard before and I understand fear so much better. To put this all in prospective, we are talking about over 80 years ago when my grandfather was in his 20s and escaped from Eastern Europe because he couldn’t find work as a Jew even though his father was a scholar and my dad was in his teens. Twenty years after that experiencing anti-Semitism here in the U.S.A. It was a long time ago and anti-Semitism breeds over generations. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of insensitive comments and questions. It has always been there, but what has changed is how it is now OK to be out there and influence others with such hate and spread like cancer.

Five year ago, anti-Semitism on the rise would be incomprehensible to me. I read and listen to Trump’s hate toward specific groups of people and the press and the loathing and disrespect he has for our Constitution while being our president. By his omission, condoning the behaviors of the Alt-Right nationalists. I am wondering why the prominent Jews who are supporting Trump don’t see it or know that history can repeat itself. Why do we as Jews think we are immune and refuse to put the memory in the forefront of our minds when we hear or read these things. Why do we think it is OK to not condone the president when he says, “there is hate on both sides”? I think about all the hate that Jonathan Weisman and the other Jewish press have endured and wonder why we are questioning Jonathan’s hypothesis.

I read the entire book and I could quote chapter and verse of a well written book, but at the end of the day, I am sad and I am scared and I long for the day when I never questioned the character or mental health of my President or his love of our Constitution and the core believe that all men and women are created equal. The office of the President of the United States is sacred and should be cherished and stand for the values and virtues of a specific time in history, whether it is respect for women, religion, diversity, and the absolutely beautiful calico colors of our citizens.

** All facts and statistics are directly from the book and are not the product of the reviewer.

Trump’s actions resonate that he is the president of all Americans

By Norman Moss

Jonathan Weisman is currently the deputy Washington editor for The New York Times who has written a soon to be published book that seeks to pin many of society’s ills on the steps of the Trump White House. His thesis as a globalist is that President Trump by refuting the world climate agreement, the Iran Nuclear Treaty, the South Pacific Trade Agreement, NAFTA and by calling out NATO as feckless ‘do nothing’ organization has demonstrated his utter contempt for humanity and is therefore a racist, sexist, misogynistic contemptible human being. Weisman then uses all of this to also assert that these characteristics also make Mr. Trump an anti-Semite. Not only does Weisman’s analysis ignore the fact that Trump is preaching a nationalistic agenda, it also ignores the lessons of history in that anti-Semitism existed within the White House long before Trump slept there.

As the Progressive movement, as it is known today, was in its infancy Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat and a known anti-Semite, resided in the White House. In June of 1939, as the SS St. Louis, a ship that had sailed from Hamburg, Germany, a month earlier laden with more than 900 Jewish refugees sought refuge in the United States, FDR ignored their plea as it sailed for four days along our eastern shore before it finally re-crossed the Atlantic where its passengers eventually became part of Hitler’s Final Solution. Faced with calls from Congress and the Israeli people not to enter into or give any concessions to the Iranian Regime, President Obama likewise demonstrated that he was no friend of the Jews by affirming the Iran Nuclear Agreement that never became a treaty. Thus, you have three liberal democratic Progressive presidents that have outwardly exhibited anti-Semitic behavior and outright condemnation of the Jewish people.

On the other hand, there is Trump whose oldest daughter is married to an Orthodox Jew whose grandchildren refer to their grandfather lovingly as ‘Zadah,’ the Yiddish equivalent of grandfather. And, then you have the Trump who as president did something that at least four presidents before him could have done but didn’t, which was to move our foreign embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Weisman, you are hiding behind words when in my mind actions speak louder than words. Trump’s actions resonate and scream to me that he is the president of all Americans even anti-Trumpers.

What disturbed me the most about Mr. Weisman’s analysis is that in describing people and institutions like Richard Spenser, David Duke, the Klu Klux Klan and the Daily Stormer as avowed White Supremacists who because they preferred Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, that Mr. Trump’s failure to denounce their endorsement proves unequivocally that Donald Trump is a racists, sexist, misogynistic anti-Semite. When President Trump was called upon to excoriate Richard Spenser and his minions for their ‘Hail Trump’ salute he made a generalized statement that he did not condone bad behavior on the part of anyone who misbehaved during that Charlottesville demonstration, but of course that wasn’t good enough for President Trump’s detractors. Donald Trump is by anyone’s definition ‘no angel,’ but he most certainly did not invent anti-Semitism as its been around long before Donald Trump came on the scene and will continue to be around long after he departs the scene. What all of this means is that we as Jews need to be forever vigilant knowing that prejudice is part and parcel of the human makeup.


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