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Thanks to Trump and Netanyahu, it's Jew vs. Jew

At sundown on May 19, Jews around the world will begin celebrating the holiday of Shavuot. It marks the day in antiqu...

Posted: May 16, 2018 7:59 PM
Updated: May 16, 2018 7:59 PM

At sundown on May 19, Jews around the world will begin celebrating the holiday of Shavuot. It marks the day in antiquity when Moses and his followers received the Torah at Mount Sinai. And, in modern times, Jews are urged to think of themselves "standing again at Sinai," renewing their covenant with God and each other.

The Jewish national movement of Zionism, a kind of secular religion, offered a parallel way of unifying Jews in the cause of creating and sustaining modern Israel. Though relatively few American Jews ever immigrated there, multitudes enacted their Zionism with financial support and political advocacy.

This year, however, Shavuot will arrive as a painful travesty for the vast majority of American Jews. The events that unfolded in the Middle East on May 14 put an almost unbearable strain on the covenant between the two largest Jewish communities in the world, one in the United States and the other in Israel.

On that date, the 70th anniversary of Israeli statehood, Israel military forces killed more than 50 Palestinian protestors and wounded another 2,700 in a confrontation, as marchers tried to breach the security fence on the Gaza border. At about the same time, the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem turned into a virtual worship service for President Donald Trump.

In normal circumstances, a consensus of American Jews would have unreservedly cheered the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Jews of all stripes regard as the national capital despite international refusal to do so. In most other periods of terrorism, armed conflict or outright war, American Jews have readily rallied to the side of the Jewish state.

But the toxic partnership of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has damaged the bonds between Jews here and Jews there. Instead of being an emblem of the entire Jewish people, Israel has overwhelmingly become the province of right-wingers -- the settlers in the West Bank, their political patrons in Israeli politics, evangelical Christians in America and the minority of this country's Jews who support its divisive president.

When Netanyahu and Trump's presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke of "peace" at the embassy opening, the word lost all meaning. The peace process, and the hope of a two-state solution, is effectively dead. It now seems that the only options on the table are a binational state, which would provide equal citizenship rights to all Jews and Arabs living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, or an apartheid regime of Israeli Jews ruling over Palestinian Arabs.

For liberal and moderate American Jews -- the 71% who voted against Trump -- a combination of entrenched sentimentality and practical fear of civil war will stop them from endorsing a binational state. Yet their democratic and progressive values also mean they cannot support the transformation of a sovereign Jewish nation into South Africa 2.0. American Jewish silence will speak volumes.

Even if Trump and Netanyahu continue to invoke a peaceful future under some "great deal," their own alliance has alienated the mainstream of American Jewry. Trump's recent pull-out from the Iran nuclear agreement echoed Netanyahu's meddlesome campaign against it during Barack Obama's presidency. As a result, Israel has rapidly shifted being from a bipartisan cause into a conservative Republican one. A poll by the Pew Research Center early this year found that 79% of Republicans, but only 27%of Democrats, sympathized more with the Israelis than the Palestinians.

Trump opposes most American Jews in his stances on issues ranging from immigration to abortion rights to separation of church and state. Indeed, as of a 2016 survey, nearly 80% of American Jews described themselves as liberal or moderate politically. As a religious minority, Jews feel indirectly threatened by Trump's verbal attacks on other minorities -- blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, the disabled -- to say nothing of his coddling of alt-right white nationalists.

By clutching Trump so closely, Netanyahu has now branded Israel with a set of political positions that are detested by the mass of American Jews. He has made Israel's main American allies the Tea Party version of the Republican Party and the so-called "Christian Zionists" of evangelical Christianity. As a Pew poll showed in 2014, Jews give a lower approval rating to evangelical Christians (34%) than to any other major religious group.

Two of America's most prominent evangelical ministers, Rev. Robert Jeffress and Rev. John Hagee, offered prayers at the embassy's opening that portrayed it as part of Christianity's grand messianic design -- a theological stance, needless to say, that is totally at odds with Judaism. In the past, both ministers have also made statements disparaging Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus and Catholics.

For Netanyahu and Trump, such evangelicals serve as a reliable political base. With friends like those, however, Israel has decisively parted ways with the liberal and moderate American Jews who were the staple of Zionism here for decades.

One of the scriptures read on Shavuot is the Book of Ruth. A woman sometimes considered the first convert to Judaism, Ruth famously says in the text, "Your people will be my people and your God my God." That testament to an embracing, overarching Jewish community has never sounded emptier than right now.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 703345

Reported Deaths: 13194
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion959691716
Lake51222940
Allen38926670
Hamilton34288404
St. Joseph33770539
Elkhart27117431
Vanderburgh22034393
Tippecanoe21671212
Johnson17451374
Porter17206297
Hendricks16735310
Clark12657190
Madison12302337
Vigo12155244
Monroe11385166
LaPorte10800204
Delaware10312184
Howard9617211
Kosciusko9068113
Hancock7939139
Bartholomew7854153
Warrick7675155
Floyd7542176
Wayne6880198
Grant6773170
Boone6524100
Morgan6370138
Dubois6071117
Marshall5753108
Dearborn568075
Cass5671102
Henry5563100
Noble537983
Jackson492369
Shelby477795
Lawrence4332118
Gibson427389
Harrison426570
Montgomery416486
Clinton416053
DeKalb406684
Huntington376980
Whitley375539
Miami371465
Knox365389
Steuben362657
Putnam351960
Wabash346677
Jasper346146
Adams337652
Ripley333368
Jefferson311579
White307354
Daviess288899
Wells285180
Decatur278592
Fayette277062
Greene270385
Posey268333
Scott260553
Clay252244
LaGrange251470
Randolph234480
Washington230431
Spencer227431
Jennings224647
Fountain207745
Sullivan207342
Starke201952
Owen191856
Fulton190839
Carroll185620
Jay185529
Perry179536
Orange176553
Rush170324
Vermillion165743
Franklin165435
Tipton160943
Parke143816
Blackford132831
Pike130134
Pulaski113145
Newton102934
Brown99640
Crawford97014
Benton96213
Martin82415
Warren78915
Switzerland7698
Union69610
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1048109

Reported Deaths: 18917
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1217031352
Cuyahoga1063982060
Hamilton779451165
Montgomery49883989
Summit45144907
Lucas39826760
Butler37638568
Stark31348894
Lorain24090472
Warren23835291
Mahoning20822583
Lake19915362
Clermont19397228
Delaware17972130
Licking16089206
Fairfield15646196
Trumbull15521459
Medina14815259
Greene14613236
Clark13576288
Wood12709184
Portage12313194
Allen11303229
Richland11017198
Miami10511212
Muskingum8688127
Wayne8543209
Columbiana8527226
Pickaway8421120
Marion8360135
Tuscarawas8359239
Erie7540153
Ross6692145
Hancock6683123
Geauga6527146
Ashtabula6458164
Scioto6280100
Belmont5591158
Union556247
Lawrence5458102
Jefferson5283147
Huron5270113
Darke5264121
Sandusky5164119
Seneca5093118
Washington5074107
Athens499454
Auglaize474884
Mercer470384
Shelby455089
Knox4371108
Madison421058
Putnam420298
Ashland412086
Fulton407966
Defiance399996
Crawford3858100
Brown385555
Logan372276
Preble369598
Clinton359659
Ottawa355478
Highland346059
Williams323274
Champaign318556
Jackson306951
Guernsey305848
Perry289349
Fayette276948
Morrow274439
Hardin263563
Henry263166
Coshocton258257
Holmes252699
Van Wert238662
Gallia233246
Pike232431
Adams227552
Wyandot226353
Hocking208958
Carroll188947
Paulding168538
Meigs141438
Noble132737
Monroe128841
Morgan106423
Harrison105336
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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Angola
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Huntington
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 57° Lo: 34°
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Fort Wayne
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Feels Like: 51°
Lima
Mostly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 36°
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Temperatures start to climb back up on Friday as we'll see mostly sunny skies return to northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
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