The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Jews to Be a Nationality


President Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, thus bolstering the Education Department’s efforts to stamp out “Boycott Israel” movements on college campuses

This is, of course, the standard anti-semitic smear of the 19th and 20th centuries: That Jews cannot be loyal to their country, because they are loyal to other Jews first. This was also said, by the way, of Catholics, because of the Pope, and it’s why John F. Kennedy becoming President as a Catholic was a big deal, and why he felt he had to explicitly state that he wouldn’t take orders from the Pope.

But all those Jews, and there are many, who have been so vehement in support of Israel that they say, in effect, that any criticism of Israel is criticism of Jews and therefore anti-semitic have also brought us here.

Trump just believes them. The interests of Jews and Israel are identical, to him. Just like they are to the Anti-Defamation League.

This is, of course, a horrible thing. It will lead, in time, to many people being sure that Jews are traitors to the US, because they put another country before the US. Traitors are generally considered to deserve death.

How did we get here?

Well, Hitler genocided millions of Jews–after he liquidated the socialists and trade unionists (he knew his real enemies). That scared and horrified many Jews, as it would anyone. So a bunch of them, in a land they didn’t control, used military force to throw out the then-current occupants (if they didn’t, then their opposition to Palestinians returning and taking their homes back is odd), and set up a religious ethnostate. Because if someone genocides your people, the best response is to ethnic cleanse another group. (Yeah, it meets the definition, sorry.)

At this point, the Israelis rule a lot of Palestinians and treat them terribly, in what many consider an apartheid system. Nelson Mandela always opposed the occupation, and his grandson has straight-up said Israel is an apartheid state.

So the sort of people who oppose injustice now want to treat Israel the way South Africa was treated when it was an apartheid state. But the Israeli lobby is extremely strong in the US (please don’t waste anyone’s time denying this), in large part because of the large numbers of American Jews who support Israel, even when it’s doing evil things. (The other large group supporting Israel is the evangelicals, who want Israel to put up the Temple so that the apocalypse can happen. Nice folks.)

So Trump is giving Israeli supporters and Jews (not the same group, always) what he thinks they want.

Perhaps the real problem is nationalism: the idea that every ethnic group deserves self-determination in the form of its own state. Perhaps that’s a bad idea, actually. (Nazism comes directly out of this: “Blood and land and folk.”) Perhaps ethnic states aren’t a good thing, because we shouldn’t base how we treat people on their ethnicity. This doesn’t mean everyone has to open their border to unlimited immigration or any thing silly, but it does mean people in their country should be treated equally.

That’s all that’s being asked for these days. Treat Palestinians equally. Make them citizens with equal rights. The two-state solution is dead, anyone looking at a map knows that. So, are you going to have a massive second-class population or actually be a genuinely democratic state?

The problem is that Israel can’t remain a religious ethnostate if it does that.

Meanwhile, putting Israel first, before Jews has, in effect, lead to a situation in the US which imperils Jews. In Britain it has lead to an entire campaign run on the idea that Corbyn is anti-semitic, when he’s spent his entire life fighting racism. Why? Because Corbyn is opposed to current Israeli policy towards Palestinians.

The funny thing is that both Israel and Jewish people would be safer and better off if they simply did the right thing and gave Palestinians citizenship.

But people who have been terribly abused too often think that abusing other people is the only way to be safe.

It’s sad, and I hope for everyone’s sake–especially the Jews and Palestinians–that this era of conflating Jewish and Israeli interests and of weaponizing charges of anti-semitism against people who oppose injustice, ends soon.

We’ll all, minus some settlers, be a lot better off.

(Or, to put it another way: Don’t be evil, K?)

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  1. V

    Jews To Be A Nationality

    That will indeed be a tragedy.
    Israel is already a piraya state; committing war crimes with impunity and no accountability demanded from the international organizations tasked with enforcement of war crimes and prosecution for said violations!.
    Anti-sematism has been weaponized to the point of absurdity!
    The BDS movement is legitimate and should be supported by all legitimate parties.
    Those against this movement should be held to the letter of the law and held accountable.
    Israel is punching well above it’s weight; and should be viewed as such…

  2. V

    …and then there is the question of religion…
    Theocracies tend to be aggresive and very violent towards the opposition; whatever/whomever that may be…
    Judaism, as a theocratic form of government, would be a disaster; given they have nukes?
    End of times comes to mind…

  3. Israel is a Terrorist State. The Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer conceived, financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon the indigenous population of Palestine. It has no “right” to exist, and this world will never know Peace until it does not. It is the root of all evil.

    But what really pisses me off is these “christian” NAZI nutballs proclaiming their support for Israel don’t “love” Israel, don’t love the “Jews”. In their worldview before their precious lord and master will float down out of the sky on a flying rainbow unicorn with thousands of helpers on flying rainbow unicorns to carry them all away to paradise two-thirds (2/3) of Israel, two-thirds (2/3) of the Jews must be destroyed, the blood rising to a horse’s bridle. These people don’t “love”  Israel, don’t love the Jews. They want to see them all destroyed.

    They are using Israel, using the “Jews” to start a war to end the world.

    EYaw, it could get me killed. Every day, is a good day…

  4. V

    Israel is a Terrorist State. The Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer conceived, financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon the indigenous population of Palestine. It has no “right” to exist, and this world will never know Peace until it does not. It is the root of all evil.
    Ten Bears
    Couldn’t have said it better; but I tried… 😉

  5. Hugh

    Other than the theatrics, and the pandering, I am not sure what such an EO would accomplish in the absence of some underlying law or legal doctrine. It seems like it would generate a lot of First Amendment litigation, if anybody, including Trump, tried to enforce it.


    Trump does not believe them. Trump is pure projection of his pathological vanity. His is a distorted, pathological, perverted version of reality. Trump, instead of believing their schlock, believes every criticism Hitler and the Nazis and Henry Ford too had of the Jews, except he sees their criticism as a good thing to be leveraged for his own personal gain. This is what he meant when he called them “killers” in Florida last week. This is what he means when he says he is the King of the Jews. He admires them for his false belief they are what Hitler and the Nazis described them as being, The Jews do themselves no service by attaching themselves at the hip with their Golem. Since Israel claims to be thee Jewish State and Jewish Homeland, it requires ALL Jews to hew to that party line and most do thanks to the rabbis who demand it of their congregations. Trump has tethered himself to ALL Jews by virtue of Israel’s coddling of him and enabling him. Trump is a death wish in orange flesh. Anyone or any group that aligns with him is also part of that death wish. Trump validates the false narrative of Jews as proffered by Hitler and the Nazis. Trump is the Nihilist in Chief. He is the ultimate answer to climate change. He has become death, the destroyer of worlds and let’s face it, in order to resolve climate change, the world or worlds man has created must be destroyed and Trump is perfect for the job.


    I’m guessing this is the real reason S Brennan voted for Trump. Because Trump really is the King of the Jews as he proclaims.

  8. highrpm

    trump’s taken a seat at the thug capitalist gaming tables, alongside many eastern euro thugs — like sheldon adelson and ilk — who proclaim their love of israel. (after all, the guy’s a new yorker, the city being the center of eastern european capitalism.)


    Get this. I tried to upload several images just like the following, and the following image too in fact, and Imgur informed me I was not allowed to upload images like this. Wow. How’s that for censorship? Is it considered anti-semitic? Soon enough, if you’re not semitic, you’ll be determined to be anti-semitic which would render most Jews anti-semitic, I suppose, considering most Jews are not semitic.

    Here’s the King of the Jews grabbing some wailing pussy in Israel. He looks so at home in his special cap, doesn’t he?

  10. Ché Pasa

    Hoo-boy. BDS must be working.

    The Times frames the story of the forthcoming EO entirely in terms of BDS and campus movements to end college and university endowment and other economic support of Israel. There is only passing reference to Jewish nationality, as if it isn’t important enough to cover. Nope, it’s all about BDS and punishing those who support it.

    Since there’s no text of the EO yet, I think it’s wise to be cautious about what it might or might not say about the matter of Jewish nationality. Right now it’s all about pushing buttons.

    But, if there is movement within the administration to declare Judaism a nationality, and it actually does surface in this or another EO, then the problem becomes existential, and not just for Jews. Any minority at all, religious, racial, ethnic, gender, etc., can wind up in a “nationality” box, suddenly stripped of citizenship, sent packing, or whatever else the dominant group determines fit and proper for those of other nationalities.

    That’s not about BDS at all. That the Times appears to be oblivious is certainly interesting…

  11. Herman

    I have long said that a one-state solution is the answer to the Israeli- Palestinian problem. Perhaps there can be a power-sharing system like they have in Lebanon. Israel as a Jewish state might have made sense after World War II but at this point it seems that it has not worked out and just produced a new oppressive situation with Palestinians on the bottom of the totem pole.

    Ideally, we would not even need a power-sharing system. Israel/Palestine would be a state based on universal liberal rights for all. But nationalism, religious sectarianism and identity politics in general are powerful forces and only seem to be getting stronger.

    As I have said previously on this blog, one of the great tragedies of the modern world is the decline of universal ideologies and principles. Universalism, whether liberal or Marxist, is out of fashion these days. The collapse of universalism has been so rapid and widespread that it has come as a shock to me.

    Oh, and by the way, this is a perfect example of how Republicans use identity politics, more to get evangelical votes as opposed to Jewish ones but maybe Trump thinks he can win some of the Jewish vote too. We often talk about the Democratic Party’s use and abuse of identity politics but the GOP plays the same identity game just with different players.

  12. Mark Pontin

    Two points:

    [1] Israel is currently the site of a demographic war — between two groups, the Jewish Orthodox settlers and the Palestinians — who are competing by trying to outbreed each other.

    This in a location in the ME where by this century’s end global climate change will raise temperatures to the point that human habitatancy will definitely become if not impossible, then punishingly difficult without some miraculous feat of geoengineering.

    If you take the ‘life is a comedy to those who think” approach, therefore, the situation in Israel is darkly hilarious.

    [2] Yes, Israel is trying to enact a slow-motion ethno-cleansing on the Palestinians. Apparently, though, most people here don’t know any history: in the late 1930s and during WWII when the Nazis were ascendant, the Palestinians tried to ethno-cleanse the then-resident Jews in Palestine. This has been going on far a while.

    To no small extent, the Zionists and the Palestinians are deeply unattractive cultures that deserve each other and – see [1] – are going to get what they deserve.

  13. bruce wilder

    watching Israel follow a tragic arc from a founding amidst much idealism as well as shock and grief over the preceding European genocide, to its present trajectory toward near-certain destruction is a lesson of sorts in how social ideas decay and people just cannot help themselves, even when they ought to know there will be predictable reactions and consequences.

  14. nihil obstet

    Zionism arose as part of 19th c. nationalism, the “self determination of peoples”. Every (European) people should have its own nation. Colonialism was still in full swing, so a bunch of Europeans going to colonize an African/Asian area was in line with European ambitions in what were then Rhodesia, South Africa, and the like. To do that, you get rid of the natives, who are not fully utilizing the land (the colonialist justification).

    Like Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, and various other ethnic groups restive under the Austrian empire, the colony drew a lot of idealists. Meanwhile, a European nation in the strategic Middle East was attractive to Western powers. The problem is that there are not and never have been enough Jews to constitute a majority in a state organized around any principle other than ethnic purity, and in an era that rejects racism, that makes its legal framework for reserving citizenship to one ethnic class illegitimate.

    I suspect there will be re-definitions of the nation-state which will reject the ethnic purity basis even more strongly than we generally do now. The Jewish state of Israel seems to be an idea whose time has passed.

  15. It would appear The Times reported was inaccurate at best, their ballyhooing drumpf uck’s proposed ‘tighter’ interpretation of Title VI all smoke no fire, the pitbull naught but a weiner dog. Contextually I don’t changes anything, especially given his comments to Jewish Americans the other evening, and it wouldn’t surprise if they ran it as a trial balloon to gauge the blowback. My observations here and at home …

    How will he define this nationality? Put “Jew” on their IDs? Make them wear a yellow star? In the windows of their shops? The license plates of their cars?

    Where does it stop? Hitler didn’t just kill a bunch of Jews. Killed students and academics: The White Rose; killed homosexuals and the autistic, the old and imperfect; the French, Gypsies, Italians; killed anyone that disagreed…

    … stand alone, though again: I wouldn’t be surprised if this were a trial balloon to see how far they can get away with it, and if you think The Times are “liberal”, you don’t read it.

    It is by small steps of incremental meanness and viciousness that we lose our humanity. The Nazis, in the end, embodied the ascension of utter demonic inhumanity, but they didn’t get that way overnight. They got that way through, day after day, attacking and demonizing and urging the elimination of those they deemed their enemies.

    And this is what has been happening to America – in particular, to the conservative movement and the Republican Party – for a very long time. Donald Trump represents the apotheosis of this, the culmination of a very long-growing trend that really began in the 1990s.” Fascism sneaks in the back door

  16. DMC

    Some philosophy. The antisemitic position is an Essentialist position. They hate Jews because of what they ARE, while anti-Zionists object to anyone, Jewish or otherwise, who “does Zionism”, which is the Existential position. The usual suspects have been attempting to conflate these two fundamentally opposed positions to their interest. Mr. Corbyn has been subject to this effort for some time. And about those 26 states with the loyalty oath, how can these still stand? Has no one taken the State to court for violating their freedoms of speech and association? Or does it just take this long to work through the courts? Really, the ongoing subornation of US legislators to this agenda is the REAL scandal, both parties have been bought off piece-meal. If changing your votes in exchange for $ to the advantage of foreign interests and the dis-advantage of their own constituents does not constitute treason, then I have been using the word wrong all these years. And yes, I AM looking at you, Ron”30 pieces of silver” Wyden!

  17. Ché Pasa

    Note Ten Bears comment above. Seems I was right to be suspicious of the Times article — which has not been corrected but which is nevertheless in error.

    The text of the EO as drafted does not create a “Jewish nationality”. How the EO affects free speech and BDS in practice remains to be seen, but the NYT article is essentially pot stirring for effect. Trump would call it “fake news” if it were unflattering to him, but it isn’t, so he doesn’t care if it is wrong on the facts.

    Gotta watch this sort of thing carefully. They love to wind people up only to call them suckers. Pure fifth grade garbage, but that’s what so much of our politics has descended to…


    Boycott, the depth and significance of that term, has considerable meaning as far as Zionists are concerned. Afterall, it was the Zionists, or some of them at least or maybe most of them, that ignored and undermined the Jewish boycott of Germany on the eve of the Holocaust. The Zionists decided to dance with the devil and, well, we saw, as we always see, what happens when you dance with the devil. You get burned. Quite literally. Except the Zionists didn’t get burned. Their fellow Jews did. No, the Zionists ultimately became the Nazis instead. That’s another consequence of dancing with the devil if you don’t get burned.

    The Zionists are dancing with the devil again in their embrace of Donald Trump. Will they ever learn? I highly doubt it. Hitler was a death wish and so too is Donald Trump and Zionists embraced them both. Maybe Zionism is the true enemy of the Jews. Maybe it’s high time the Jews reject Zionism as all of us should reject any ism for that matter.

    I have the feeling that we are breaching the boycott and have no way to justify this. We’re doing it not to save Jews but to build houses for this or that organization. […] We shall accomplish little and pay for it dearly. We shall befoul ourselves irreparably, and we will pay dearly for the money, too.

  19. StewartM

    What’s next? Are Jews next going to be a ‘race’ again??

    And besides, to be a nationality, don’t you have to have a nation-state? Does this mean that Jews were not a nationality before Israel was created?

    Ironies abound here.

    1) First of all, Hitler’s genocidal dreams originated from the US–yes, the US. Hitler was a fan of westerns, and greatly admired how the “white race” in the US stole “appropriated” the land from the original inhabitants, and then “liquidated” them, or tried to. He admired the way the US became a great continental power this way, and wanted Germany to emulate it, save that Germany’s “Indians” were Jews, Slavs, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and more. These were to be “reservation’ed” like their American counterparts and then quietly pushed to extinction.

    This is why the US refused to sign the UN definition of genocide (1948) because we knew we were guilty on all counts (see Article II):

    2) The goal of Zionism was actually one of the goals of anti-semites like Hitler. For the record, Hitler at first did not advocate the extermination of the Jews, he argued for their removal from Europe to a “homeland”–Madagascar was a typical suggestion of a Jewish homeland for early anti-semites. Both these anti-semites like Hitler and Zionists agreed that “The Jews need a country of their own”.

    3) Zionism in Israel has taken an increasingly ugly turn since the country’s founding. Now, as my former college landlady said (who was part Cherokee and looked it) “Israel is treating the Palestinians the way that the Europeans treated Native Americans, they just want them to ‘go away’. The parallels continue:

    a) there is a quasi- or overtly religious “manifest destiny”/ ‘ordained by God’ ideology justifying the theft;

    b) the Palestinians, like the Indians, are depicted as “savages” because they fight irregularly, whereas the Israeli forces, because they’re all dressed in the same attire, fight “civilized”. This is despite the fact there is a huge disparity in lives taken—just like Native American tribes killed a half dozen whites was a “massacre” while European or American troops killing several thousand Native American women, children, and aged was a “military operation” or even “a battle”, the same holds true for this conflict. It’s been calculated that it would take FOUR MILLION YEARS for the Palestinians to kill as many Israelis as the Israelis have killed Palestinians, given the current rate.

    In addition to this–as US anti-boycott laws and this measure above tries to do–Israel has tried to neuter peaceful options for the Palestinians to bring pressure like boycotts and other economic pressure. Then they complain about Palestinian violence. What did JFK say about those who make peaceful reform impossible?

    4) The ironies of ironies is–it’s the Palestinians, more than any living group alive today on the planet, who are the closest group related to the ancient Hebrews the Jews claim to revere so much. David or Saul or Jeremiah or Ezekiel would far more resemble a Palestinian than a Europeanized Jew (Judaism used to be proselytizing religion; in fact, “proselyte” originally meant “a Greek who had converted to Judaism.

    (This leads to an horrible though interesting story on SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler meeting a blond-eyed, blue-eyed Jewish boy in Russia, who Himmler thought was so obviously “Aryan” that he repeatedly asked if the boy being Jewish wasn’t a mistake–‘were his parents Jewish? Both grandparents?” When Himmler was assured, yes, the boy’s ancestors were all Jewish, Himmler was stumped.

    Yet, despite the absurdity of his racial ideology quite literally staring back at him in the face, sadly, Himmler did what most humans usually do. Rather than question his convictions, Himmler had the contrary evidence shot. Literally.


    Trump’s actions please Herzl’s remains atop Mount Herzl. It was his wish afterall for Jews to be recognized as a nationality and to have a homeland of their own come hook or crook. The irony is, Herzl was hardly a Jew except in name only. Culturally, he was more Austro-Hungarian than he was Jewish so he was hardly appropriate as the symbolic progenitor of Zionism. Or perhaps he was appropriate and Zionism isn’t so much about the Jews and being Jewish as it is about controlling the Jews as a means to power.

    In a later chapter, he argues that the immediate cause of antisemitism is ‘our excessive production of mediocre intellects, who cannot find an outlet downwards or upwards — that is to say, no wholesome outlet in either direction. When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse’.

    This opens the door for irredentism, doesn’t it? A page out of Putin’s book. This justifies AIPAC’s continued existence and helps to bolster its power and sway over politicians and American governance. AIPAC, and Israel, can now, in plain sight without fear or shame, take a more direct and bold role in protecting Jews and Jewish interests in the United States since Jews are a nationality and are part of the Nation of Israel and therefore must and will be defended in America or anywhere even though no defense is warranted or necessary. Irredentism becomes cover and justification for greater control over American governance. This also precludes full assimilation and enables cult-like behavior whose members will keep it in the family.

  21. Peter

    It’s strange how easily some people are led to believe misinterpretations of whatever Trump does. This EO doesn’t change anything and doesn’t make Jews a nationality.It does reaffirms that Jews are an ethnic group under section VI of the Civil Rights Act
    BDS will continue to fail because public universities and corporations face stiff penalties under laws that forbid them to use their financial power to support BDS.

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