Trump's tweets about 'disloyal' Jews are laced with centuries of antisemitismRoundup
tags: antisemitism, Trump
Emma Goldberg is a journalist based in New York.
It was January in Paris – cold, gray – when a ceremony held on the Champ-de-Mars roiled the city’s elite. Military officials and civilians gathered to watch as a young Jewish artillery officer was punished for his alleged treason. Days earlier Alfred Dreyfus had been convicted of passing secrets to the Germans in a rushed court-martial. A French army officer stripped his insignia medals, took his sword and broke it over his knee. Dreyfus was marched around the courtyard of the École Militaire as crowds jeered and spat. Cries of “Jew!” and “Judas!” drowned out his muffled professions of loyalty to the French state.
The scene was striking – in the shadow of the newly built Eiffel Tower, a symbol of modernity, an almost primal witch-hunt unfolded. A once decorated army servant pleaded for pity as his neighbors called out “death to the Jew”. Dreyfus was exonerated two years later. The message of his trial was clear: even in a cosmopolitan city, in a country whose revolutionary myth called for liberty and equality, leaders could baselessly point their people’s animus toward the other in their midst.
There’s a sordid history to charges of Jewish dual loyalty in the US In the early years of the second world war, isolationists opposed to American involvement dismissed the war as little more than a “Jewish cause”. Charles Lindbergh berated Jewish leaders for “agitating for war”. Decades later, when the US senator Joe Lieberman ran on the Democratic ticket for vice-president, pundits questioned whether he was more loyal to Israel than to the US. During the democratic primaries in 2015, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders was challenged on his “dual citizenship” with Israel.
The larger question animating these statements is clear: when push comes to shove, will you disavow your differences? As many writers and thinkers have shown, white American political leaders have spent much of the country’s history – from slavery, to Jim Crow, to the disenfranchised carceral state – attempting to construct an American patriotism whose core tenet is whiteness. That is a project white Jews can fit into, so long as they show their ethnic roots don’t run too deep.
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