Pascrell on calling out hate

Make no mistake about it: anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, and sadly, New Jersey is no exception to this despicable trend.

As recent remarks by several New Jersey public officials have shown, anti-Semitic tropes continue to plague our discourse. Last week, our entire congressional delegation called on the two Trenton Council members who trafficked in anti-Jewish hate to either apologize immediately or resign for their hurtful remarks. Our work to stomp out anti-Semitism, however, cannot stop there. We must continue to call out hate whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress (D NJ-Dist. 09)

Trump is not good for the Jews

The debate about whether Donald Trump is anti or pro-Semitic has filled the editorial pages of the Standard for the past three weeks. I am in the anti-camp, and want to respond to a letter from one writer last week (“But Ivanka is Jewish!”).

The writer cites Ivanka Trump’s conversion and Trump’s wholehearted support for Israel. One is a fact. The other is a supposition. A third point is made — that only today’s Democrats are responsible, that their agenda is merely political (to elect their own and discredit their opponents). Let’s parse these statements.

Is Ivanka Jewish? Her conversion has been made glaringly public. But there are aspects to her Jewishness that I find disturbing. The first is her moral conduct, insofar as business dealings are concerned. The second is a lack of modesty or humility, which clearly are Jewish beliefs — qualities that the Trump family famously lacks. The third is the background of her marriage. The Kushner and Trump families long have rubbed elbows together in the real estate business. It was no surprise that these two families would wind up married together. It is like the monarchs of old. Marriages were done to consolidate power, not for love.

More to the point, what does the Jewishness of a child prove about the Jew-love of a parent? Many parents separate from children who marry outside of their faith. If Donald Trump were as Christian as he pretends, would not his daughter’s decision have caused a rift? Most parents these days try to be neutral when it comes to interfaith marriage. So, the fact that Ivanka is a Jew does not, in and of itself, prove anything about Donald Trump’s relations with the Jews. And, of course, let’s not forget that Barack Obama had a cousin who is a rabbi, and that Bill Clinton’s daughter also married into the tribe.

The writer’s second point concerns wholehearted love for Israel. That is a statement of belief, not fact. As evidence of wholeheartedness, I simply cite Israel’s strategic position in the Middle East at this moment. Donald Trump has escalated the regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Despite his claims to want to avoid war, American troops are being sent to the Saudis.

Israel is right in the middle, and should war erupt, there is no doubt that Iranian proxies (Hamas, Hezbollah) will be used to create a second front. Would a wholehearted lover of Israel have created these conditions? Whether or not the JCPOA was good policy, the fact remains that the region was more stable two years ago. And now it is not.

As for the matter of love, there is only one thing that Donald Trump loves wholeheartedly. Himself.

Finally, the argument is made that Democrats are behind all of this, for political gain. This is precisely why I believe Donald Trump is anti-Semitic. He has created a divide in America that has split 75 years of bipartisan support for Israel. It was only during the Obama era that the idea of divided support became current. That was done for Republican Party gain. Obama did not have a cozy relationship with Netanyahu, but military aid for Israel reached an all-time high, Iran was contained, and America remained engaged with a two-state peace process. One might say that wholehearted love encompasses tough love. Toughness allows balance and can force growth. Mollycoddling a child is not evidence of wholehearted love.

Trump has now changed this reality. His Arab friends will be the ultimate winners. Let us recall that the first state visit Trump ever made was to Saudi Arabia, where he was warmly received by MBS, the Saudis’ version of Vladimir Putin. The Arabs and Persians both stand to gain from an Israel that is battening down the hatches and ditching a two-state solution. All they have to do is wait for the demographic time bomb. Eventually, a greater Israel cannot be a Jewish state. The first inklings of this have been apparent in the success of the Arab Joint List in the recent election.

Is all of this to be blamed on Democrats who are out to discredit their opponents? Let’s be clear. No American president, until Trump, has rocked the boat in this manner. This is, or should not be, an American partisan argument. Donald Trump has turned it into one, for his (and the Arabs’) gain.

Donald Trump is not a pro-Semite. Unless by that term you include the descendants of Shem who chose to follow Mohammed 1,400 years ago.

Eric Weis

What happens if Trump gets mad at us?

I read Rabbi Engelmayer’s negative assessment of President Trump (“Trump is an anti-Semite. We ignore that to our peril,” September 6) and Dr. Chouake’s defense of the President (“Trump loves Jews; it is libelous to deny it,” September 13).

What is one to make of a President who has been so supportive of Israel, has Jewish grandchildren, and yet is opposed by seventy percent of American Jews? Have we established a new normal for America’s Jews in which we bite the hand that feeds us?

I think not. Donald Trump has shown over and over that, although he demands and expects fealty from his employees and surrogates, he is a man with no permanent loyalties. He attacks foes as well as friends. Are we fools in fearing that his support of Israel has a purpose, that being to wean America’s Jews, their support and votes, away from the Democratic party.

We are a stubborn people. You all know the joke; “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” With no disrespect for Puerto Ricans, it shows that we traditionally vote with the working class. This is something to be proud of and we will not give it up easily.

Is it unrealistic to predict that when the President comes to understand that although we love Israel and pray for its safety our support and votes are not up for sale. Knowing what we do about the character of this President, might he, out of frustration and anger, turn his wrath against us and Israel? It truly is a curious dilemma.

Herb Steiner

Laughable to think Trump’s anti-Semitic

I am responding to Rabbi Engelmayer’s astonishing statement that President Trump is anti-Semitic (September 6). Dr. Chouake’s response (September 13) mirrors my feelings exactly.

It is laughable to think that Trump is anti-Semitic when his own daughter and son-in-law are Jewish and part of his inner circle. In addition, his whole-hearted support for Israel is known to everyone.

It seems that today’s Democrats want only Democrats to be elected and will go to any lengths to discredit their opponents. It is very sad.

Susan Ebenstein

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