Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He defined anti-Semitism as things that people who aren't him say.

Today, Trump signed an executive order interpreting the Jewish faith as a nationality for purposes of enforcing existing anti-discrimination laws. There's a healthy debate among legal experts and Jewish communities as to whether this is a good idea, but the order itself is not expected to have significant consequences.

The real target of Trump's action appears to be colleges and universities that permit protests against the state of Israel. In particular, it seems to be aimed at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to put economic pressure on Israel to pull back from illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories. 

In other words, Trump appears to be trying to silence political criticism of the government until recently run by his political ally, now-indicted former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by threatening the federal funding of colleges and universities that allow their students to make it.

Less than a week ago, Trump told American Jews at a private fundraiser that they "don't love Israel enough." He also said that Jewish Americans were "not nice people" but that they "had no choice" but to vote for him, because a Democratic candidate would take their money. If Trump had dabbled in those classic anti-Semitic stereotypes (that Jews only love money and are disloyal to the countries they live in) from the podium of a federally-funded university, he'd have presumably violated the executive order he signed today.

It's not the first time he's said these things. His long-established hostility towards Jews, even as he demands that they support him financially, may have something to do with the fact that they overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Why should I care about this?

  • Bigotry is as bigotry does.
  • It's wrong to accuse other people of prejudices you have yourself.