SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

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 6:59 PM
Updated: May 16, 2018 6:59 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 455783

Reported Deaths: 6166
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin945441502
Ramsey40698749
Dakota33623354
Anoka31398368
Washington20579237
Stearns18111190
St. Louis14006251
Scott1221199
Wright11811107
Olmsted1083075
Sherburne831270
Carver705639
Clay660684
Rice624774
Kandiyohi558772
Blue Earth549533
Crow Wing490678
Otter Tail464968
Chisago460438
Benton423788
Winona394948
Douglas379766
Nobles374847
Mower374429
Goodhue358163
Polk330760
McLeod328647
Beltrami316148
Morrison314645
Lyon306139
Becker289439
Itasca287843
Isanti286143
Carlton284443
Steele279510
Pine270515
Freeborn254723
Todd233730
Nicollet230538
Brown218634
Mille Lacs215745
Le Sueur214416
Cass210824
Meeker201533
Waseca193316
Wabasha17483
Martin172026
Roseau166517
Hubbard151138
Redwood141327
Houston140314
Dodge13974
Renville138540
Chippewa133232
Cottonwood129118
Fillmore12778
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111533
Faribault110116
Sibley11017
Watonwan10698
Pennington101016
Kanabec99818
Pipestone97223
Yellow Medicine95016
Murray9137
Jackson87310
Swift84718
Pope7485
Stevens7078
Marshall70415
Clearwater68814
Lake66415
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin63510
Koochiching60810
Lincoln4912
Big Stone4703
Unassigned43968
Grant4388
Norman4268
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2623
Lake of the Woods1981
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312194

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46975465
Linn18114279
Scott15900172
Black Hawk14123243
Woodbury13145181
Johnson1231752
Dubuque11651159
Pottawattamie9182115
Dallas910872
Story883538
Cerro Gordo474372
Webster473377
Warren461539
Sioux460457
Clinton459168
Marshall432262
Buena Vista397230
Muscatine396578
Des Moines395543
Plymouth353670
Wapello351798
Jasper333359
Lee326932
Marion310853
Jones275250
Henry269131
Carroll258934
Bremer250448
Crawford235824
Washington224133
Boone223517
Benton213950
Mahaska198637
Jackson195332
Tama190959
Dickinson189229
Kossuth180944
Delaware176536
Clay173021
Wright167624
Fayette166324
Hamilton162530
Buchanan162324
Winneshiek161020
Harrison158762
Hardin157831
Cedar155819
Clayton153949
Butler152324
Page148115
Floyd141936
Cherokee140327
Mills138517
Lyon137933
Poweshiek135424
Hancock132424
Allamakee131530
Iowa128022
Madison124210
Calhoun12379
Grundy122828
Jefferson122425
Winnebago122329
Mitchell117137
Louisa116430
Cass115343
Chickasaw113812
Appanoose113040
Sac112815
Union111723
Emmet111332
Humboldt107819
Shelby106427
Guthrie104624
Franklin103618
Unassigned10210
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery89224
Keokuk86426
Howard85919
Monroe82620
Clarke8199
Pocahontas78711
Ida76430
Davis70421
Adair69720
Greene6977
Monona68418
Lucas66910
Osceola65011
Worth6224
Taylor6009
Fremont5276
Van Buren50515
Decatur4994
Ringgold45511
Audubon4258
Wayne42021
Adams3023
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
13° wxIcon
Hi: 21° Lo: 4°
Feels Like: -1°
Mason City
Cloudy
17° wxIcon
Hi: 20° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 1°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
14° wxIcon
Hi: 17° Lo: 9°
Feels Like: -2°
Austin
Cloudy
16° wxIcon
Hi: 19° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 2°
Charles City
Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 21° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 4°
Snowstorm to our south
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events