Donald Trump signed an executive order his administration says will combat anti-Semitism and a growing anti-Israel movement on college campuses.
Many, including some it’s designed to protect, fear this order combats freedom of speech. Others are concerned because Trump says anti-Semitism would be covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin,” but does not mention religion. Judaism is a religion, not a race.
Rabbi Hara Person, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, said, “Not to overdramatize, but it feels dangerous. I’ve heard people say this feels like the first step toward us wearing yellow stars.”
Donald Trump, who once tweeted a graphic of the Star of David with bags of cash, believes he’s done more for Jewish people than anyone else. He touts moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, as though clearing the way for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon is good for Israel. But at the signing ceremony, he invited two conservative evangelical leaders, Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas, and the Rev. John C. Hagee, a prominent end-times preacher, who have made very anti-Semitic comments in the past. Jeffress once said “you can’t be saved being a Jew,” and Hagee once said, “the Holocaust was part of God’s plan to return the Jews to Israel.” Last weekend in Florida, Donald Trump said some Jewish people “don’t love Israel enough,” but he seems fine with the way Jeffress and Hagee feel about the Jewish state.
The fear of this order is that isolating Jews as a race or nationality will prompt more hate. Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel said, “This is deeply objectionable, going back centuries in anti-Semitic thinking,” which actually fits the Trump administration.
It’s hard to take Donald Trump’s efforts to protect any religion or race seriously when he and his administration embrace white supremacists and racist policies. Perhaps the most significant development from this is that now when Trump does and says something anti-Semitic or attacks Muslims, it’ll be another act of his racism.
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