American Jews Must Confront Trump’s Bigotry

Roman Broszkowski, Contributing Writer

There’s a saying that three Jews have four opinions. If that’s true, then one is that Donald Trump and his tiny hands are worthy of the presidency.

Although Jews overwhelmingly rejected Trump’s message of hate on Nov. 8, one in four did not, according to exit polling. Nearly a quarter of our community voted for someone who spewed racism, called for violence, used anti-Semitic imagery and preached xenophobia. This article isn’t about why that happened; it’s about what we, as Jews, will do in our communities over the next four years.

Jews are often ignored as a demographic that has much to lose from a Trump presidency. While it is obvious that Trump is racist, misogynistic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, he has consistently deflected accusations that he is anti-Semitic. A common argument from Trump’s defenders and supporters is that since he has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law, he cannot be prejudiced against Jews. How can a bigot hate his own family?

As many LGBTQ and mixed-race people can attest, bigotry is not only common in families, but often pervasive. For every accepting family, there is another that rejects its diversity. Saying that Trump cannot be anti-Jewish because he is related to Jews is like saying Trump would never assault women because he is married to one.

Trump has tweeted anti-Semitic memes and played on anti-Jewish stereotypes. In his final campaign ad, Trump blamed globalist elites for the U.S.’s problems while images of famous Jewish Americans flashed before the viewer. Trump recently named Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist, a man who didn’t want his children to attend the same school as Jews, according to a court filing by his ex-wife. Trump has also received adoration from alt-righters such as journalist Milo Yiannopoulos and old-fashioned white supremacists like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Trump’s behavior and that of his allies should disgust every Jew. It apparently did not, and that is a conversation we must have.

The only two age groups that Trump won were 45–64 and 65 and older. This means that it is very likely that your bubbe and zayde helped elect a man who represents a real threat to American Jews. Call them. Talk to them. They miss you. And then remind them that while they might refuse to buy German goods because of the Holocaust, some of Trump’s core supporters don’t think it happened.

There’s a lot that needs to be done. We as a community, here at Oberlin and at home, must rededicate ourselves to social justice. Only by doing so can we repudiate Trump every day and remind him that Jews do not stand for his bigotry. Anti-Semitism will not go away if we don’t also fight other forms of oppression, especially those that Trump has encouraged.

Trump has focused heavily on Islamophobia and xenophobia in his platform. These areas intersect most on the issue of refugees. Supporting refugees in this country and providing aid to those still in refugee camps would be a clear message from our community that we will not go along with Trump’s agenda. Jews have historically been refugees, and that experience is ingrained in our generational trauma. Currently, refugees from Central America, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere are looking to come to the U.S. We have a moral obligation to help them. The U.S. likes to think of itself as a city on a hill, but instead we should be a city of refuge.

So I ask our community to take action on this issue. Make Oberlin a center of asylum where our undocumented peers are safe and our refugee friends are cared for. Please consider joining advocacy groups like Obies for Undocumented Inclusion, donating to the Undocumented Students Scholarship, petitioning the administration to make Oberlin a sanctuary campus or calling your representative to say that you stand for immigration justice.

The next four years will be hard. We know how this story can play out. Don’t let it happen.