Donald Trump recently claimed that Jews who vote for Democrats have “a total lack of knowledge” or “great disloyalty” to Jewish people and Israel.
An opinion piece by David Schanzer in The Hill has a good response to this. First he points out that most minorities, including Jews, don’t like being treated as if they all think the same. People are smarter and more diverse than that.
However, it is true that 79% of American Jews voted Democratic in the 2018 midterms. Here is why he believes this is so:
First of all, most American Jews have a close connection to immigrants. Many of us are second, third or fourth generation immigrants. We feel strongly that refugees escaping persecution should be able to seek safety and shelter in America because throughout our history we have been persecuted and forced to flee to save our lives.
We have been on many refugee caravans. Ferdinand and Isabella evicted us from Spain, the tsars used pogroms to chase us out of Russia and we fled on boats and trains and by foot from the Nazis. We support today’s refugees because we know they could have been us.
We also support civil rights and diversity. We know what it’s like to be an oppressed minority for we “were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
We may feel very comfortable and secure in America, but we recoil when any American is targeted as “the other” — whether it be the Mexican you accuse of being a rapist or the Muslim you stereotype as being a terrorist — because so often we have been “otherized.”
The Jew with horns, the Jewish moneylender, the Jew with dual “loyalties.” We know that a frenzied mob calling for an American citizen of color to be kicked out of the country might be chanting to kick us out too one day soon. For there is one thing we know for sure: Those folks who don’t like people because they are black, brown or Muslims don’t like Jews much either.
I am half Jewish, so his arguments resonate with me, but my other half also understands that these are things that should be important to all Americans. It is always extremely dangerous to support a strongman who divides people for personal gain.