President Donald Trump’s latest remark about American Jews – that the 79% of us who support Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” – isn’t just anti-Semitic. It’s anti-American.
On the one hand, obviously, accusing Jews of disloyalty is an age-old anti-Semitic canard, dating back not only hundreds of years in Europe but literally to the dawn of the Jewish people itself. In Exodus 1:9, the Egyptian Pharaoh tells his followers: “let us deal wisely with them… lest they join themselves unto our enemies and fight us against us.”
On the other hand, the way that accusation is normally phrased is the way Pharaoh put it: that Jews are more loyal to their own interests than to the nations in which they find themselves. That’s why left-wing accusations against AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson, and the so-called “Israel Lobby” must carefully avoid that ancient canard, and are called out when they fail to do so. As in the case, most recently, of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comment that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins.”