It’s been quite a day trying to understand the implications of President Trump’s planned executive order and reading through various different perspectives from people and organizations I trust. I’m still trying to process this entire issue as I know many are. So, as everyone continues to discuss this from all sides, I’ll make some statements in principle.
First, while I am deeply concerned about anti-Israel statements and actions on campuses and throughout the country, I am opposed to any law (and many have been proposed) which would make some such statements illegal. I believe that in many cases, those who criticize Israel’s policies are doing so out of genuine love and concern for Israel. And, some who express the opinion that Israel is not a legitimate state or should not be a Jewish state are speaking from a political or philosophical, not an anti-Semitic perspective. Such political speech, as much as I oppose it and cringe when I hear it, should be protected. There are clearly those who are anti-Israel who are anti-Semites but not all are and to in any way limit anti-Israel sentiment limits free speech which is dangerous. It would be a double standard to prohibit such speech specifically against Israel.
Secondly, I am wary of any statement, and President Trump has made many such statements, which suggest that Jews’ connection with Israel constitute our principal loyalty. Such statements provide ammunition for those who are looking for reasons to consider Jews as “the other” when it comes to being Americans. I am loyal to my people but, as I have said many times including from the Bima, my principle political loyalty is to the United States. While I won’t deny my love for and concern for Israel, I am a loyal American. AAny statement which makes a point of clearly identifiying a Jew as a member of a “different nation” is of grave concern.
And, finally, after his statements of the past weekend and so many other divisive statements and actions of this President, I will admit to being skeptical about anything President Trump says or writes regarding Jews. I wish he would just stop talking about Jews and anti-Semitism because, frankly, I think a man who uses his pulpit to encourage divisiveness and bigotry in this nation is simply not to be trusted when he singles Jews out, even for good.