Talia Lavin is tired of Jews being used as a shield

Donald Trump’s recent Twitter rant against four congresswomen of color where he told them to ‘go back where they came from’ has created much discussion about the use of this racist trope. This is a well-known xenophobic slur that pretty much anyone who can be seen as a non-white and non Anglo-Saxon ‘other’ by virtue of skin color, dress, accent, or name has at one time been subjected to. The New York Times asked its readers to recount incidents of this sort and got 16,000 responses (!) of which they published 67.

When Trump and his followers are confronted about their blatantly racist behavior, they try to defend themselves using the Jewish community as a shield and writer Talia Lavin says she is just sick of it.

[A]fter the past few days, in which a fleet of Republicans and the president himself have utilized Jews as human shields for racist rhetoric, the Jews are tired, tired, tired of being used as defenses against naked racism, tired of being used to justify conditions at detention camps. Just plain tired

This week, Donald Trump banged out a series of twisted tweets demanding that four congresswomen of color “go back” to the countries from which they came, utilizing a classic schoolyard racist trope that still rings in the ears of every nonwhite person in this country. When the backlash came, he raised Jews up like a shield with a Star of David daubed on it in thin, flaking paint to defend him. The four Democrats he targeted, he tweeted later, “hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion” and “have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.” They are, he continued, “Anti-Semitic…Anti-America,” and “anti-Israel, pro Al-Qaeda,” among other salvos, all in the past forty-eight hours.

It’s not a surprise, though, that the Republican establishment makes public statements about its superglued-to-Netanyahu foreign policy as if it inoculates them against anti-Semitism. Nor is this the first time Trump has conflated American Jews with Israel.

More strikingly, when blood ran on the streets of Pittsburgh after the pogrom at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, Trump did not meet with community leaders of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, nor the family members of the dead, nor even the city’s mayor. He spoke with Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Meeting with the ambassador of Israel to offer comfort to American Jews affected by white nationalist violence underscores exactly for whom these comments—about “anti-Semitic,” about “anti-Israel” sentiment—are being made. The strongest supporters of an uncritical, anti-Palestinian foreign policy are white evangelical Christians—the most politically mobilized segment of the president’s base, and his audience for these remarks, and these actions. Their support for Israel is grounded in an apocalyptic vision in which Palestine is “restored” to the Jews—the Palestinians expelled or slaughtered, it makes no matter—and the Jews subsequently convert en masse, disappearing into the flock of the righteous. In this Revelations-tinted vision, Jews are pawns, too, a populace to be maneuvered into the correct conditions for a welcomed end of days, and to vanish, with all our particularities, into the fold of believers in Christ. Erasure is the condition of their allegiance.

Wyoming representative Liz Cheney and Meghan McCain have volunteered, unasked-for, as blonde Christian Loraxes, prepared at all times to speak for the Jews. In late June, Cheney demanded Ocasio-Cortez apologize for utilizing the term, stating that “6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.”

But Jews are not trees, not animals, not mute props to use as cudgels in a war of escalating rhetoric. We do not need to be spoken for, we who have been here since before this country was a country, and want to remain, and know no other home; we are not waiting for your apocalypse. As if to prove a counterpoint, on Tuesday, July 15, one thousand “Jews and allies” led by a group called #NeverAgainAction and the immigrant justice group Movimiento Cosecha enacted a protest in Washington, D.C., blockading the entrances and exits to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s headquarters and the approaching street. Their chief slogan defied those who would use Jews’ bloody history to deny present atrocities; those who would utilize Jews as weapons to silence anti-racists; those who want us to wait, meekly, to be cozened by Christ in the end of days. What they chanted, holding hands, were four simple words: “Never Again is Now.”

It is an excellent article, well worth reading in full.

[UPDATE: For those of you who may not check the comments, I want to draw your attention to this cartoon, link provided by Owlmirror to whom I give grateful thanks.]


  1. Owlmirror says

    Wyoming representative Liz Cheney and Meghan McCain have volunteered, unasked-for, as blonde Christian Loraxes, prepared at all times to speak for the Jews.

    The article doesn’t offer a link, but: The Shiksa (which I see gives credit to Talia Lavin for the original idea)

  2. jrkrideau says

    I have never heard a Muslim say anything about Jews, good or bad. Err, wait, I remember someone in a bar in Manama saying the Israelis (note, not the Jews) were fine people but he really did not like the Saudis.

    Most people I know like Americans. The USA is another matter.

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