I know what is really bad for the Jews, and it is not Joe Biden

The idea that Trump was good for ‘the Jews’ and Biden is a disaster reveals a mean-spirited vision of the Jewish community as being rich, selfish, tribal and lacking a conscience


JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MAY 23: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout photo provided by the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Donald Trump prior to the President's departure from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Trump arrived for a 28-hour visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas on his first foreign trip since taking office in January. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images)

May 14, 2021 13:32

Being Jewish can, of course, accommodate all the points of view under the sun. Under several suns. There were Jews around Lenin and Jews who supported Mussolini. There were Rothschilds in their chateaux and barely literate second-hand clothes repairers in Stepney like my grandfather, whose families went hungry when work was hard to find.

So if there was a Jewish commentator in America who, say, predicted eight weeks before polling day that Trump would win the presidential election, argued that he had won that first catastrophic presidential debate “on points”, then as the results came in accused the Democrats of “exploiting the electoral system in Philadelphia to conjure up boxes of Biden votes”, I would not cast them out of our inky temple altogether. You can be terribly wrong and Jewish.

In a recent JC, for example, Dominic Green excoriated the new president of the United States as a man who “calls America racist at its root and heart”, when just a week earlier Biden had told an interviewer that “I don’t think America is racist, but I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow — and before that, slavery — have had a cost.” Many readers, not least those older Jews who long supported civil rights and saw other Jews in America murdered for supporting them, will think that Biden’s is a not unfair analysis. Either way, Green is demonstrably, factually wrong.

But it wasn’t Green’s admiration for Trump or his obvious personal distaste for Joe Biden that worried me. I’ve seen all too many on the right make the journey from Reaganites to Lindberghians in recent years.

The following proposition and the argument for it, however, bothered me. The Biden presidency, wrote Green, “will not be good for the Jews”. Unlike the presidency of Donald Trump, which, one deduces, was good for them. Once, of course (though this awkwardness was not mentioned), you subtract the emboldening of the antisemitic far right that seems to have taken place under Trump. After all, were there not one or two Orthodox Jews in that crowd that stormed the Capitol on 6 January, rubbing shoulders and fire extinguishers with people wearing “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirts?

So, whatever Biden is like for the Jews, we can be certain that neo-Nazis and white supremacists think he is very bad for neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Yet that embarrassment in itself doesn’t make Green wrong. What makes him wrong, and even a little dangerous, is his idea of who “the Jews” are.

The first and most obvious assumption Green makes is that the interest of “the Jews” universally maps exactly on to the policies and outlook of Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli nationalist right. Insofar as Biden deviates in any way from these, he is objectively anti-Jewish.

That’s bad enough in its own way — the association of Jews with a slavish support for whatever an Israeli administration decides to do is a key element in modern leftist antisemitism.

But it gets worse. Green attacks Biden’s plans for recovery and infrastructure spending as in themselves being bad for American Jews, because they are “middle class taxpayers [who are] about to get the tab”. Since the threshold at which more tax will be paid is over $400,000 per annum, this sentiment assumes that all Jews are rich and resent paying taxes for national recovery.

Furthermore, suggests Green, Jews are all white and as such can be expected to suffer from Biden’s attempts to level the playing field for American blacks. And more “observant Jews” will also be penalised for “being at odds with the Democrats’ anything-goes libertinism”. He gives no examples of this “libertinism” (a strange scruple for a Trump supporter, of course), but when pressed, he would probably mutter something about transgenderism, whilst actually meaning gay rights.

Finally, Green describes as “bad for the Jews” Biden’s “needless” antagonising of Vladimir Putin and his Erdogan-annoying acceptance that genocide was committed against the Armenian people just over a century ago.

You may be noticing by now what a horrible picture Green paints of “the Jews”. They – we – are rich, selfish, tribal, conscienceless and mean. If it’s not in our interests, for example, to allow that another people has suffered genocide or discrimination, then we won’t allow it. Taxes, schmaxes, Armenians Schmarmenians. Who cares who kills whom, so long as they don’t mess with us?

“The Jews”, in Green’s evocation, are the doppelgangers of the antisemite’s scheming Hebrews.

And you want to know what’s bad for the Jews? That’s really bad for the Jews.


May 14, 2021 13:32

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