I don’t often say much about my personal beliefs as to religion. It’s not that I’m ashamed or anything; it’s that I think religion is properly a personal matter, and not one that should be dredged up in public. Some religionists believe that proselytization is okay, and their religions mandate it for followers (witness Christianity and Islam as but two examples).
As for me, I don’t discuss religion except in the privacy of my own home, with my co-religionists. The one time I broke that habit and explained to a ‘friend’ why I was not a Christian and would remain a Jew, he turned to me and called me a “hard-hearted Christ-killer.”
Such love, I was moved to . . well, nothing. I was not interested in hearing him talk religion, knowing what he thought of me and my brethren nor was I interested in hearing more of the ‘love’ that said religion espoused. He fairly demonstrated it. Note to Christians: if you fail in your efforts to “convert” someone, don’t resort to name calling. Any headway you might’ve made will be destroyed.
Notwithstanding that, now we’ve got a lot of things happening in the political realm that happen to mix politics and religion, yet again. It’s frankly depressing and not a little bit infuriating. I refer to the Nazi and KKK supporters of Herr President Elect Donald J. Trump and also to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement of the left and general anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. In short, we Jews are squeezed from both sides of the political aisle.
The Nazi and KKK supporters – and Herr President Elect himself – send out dog whistles (in Trump’s case, talking about “international bankers” and putting the Star of David into a meme, implying Jews are at the root of all money evil) to fellow travelers. They rail against Jews, Israel, and Zionism. See, to this brain trust, Jews are the cause of every bad thing that’s happened in the world, and need to be stamped out. I don’t necessarily think Herr President Elect thinks along those lines, by the way; I do, however, think he’s done little to distance himself from antisemitic statements and actions taken in his name which further enables those cretins. But Jews have no place in a party that sanctions, let alone condones such comments and actions, even if done tacitly.
There’s also the religious right which “champions” the State of Israel. That’s an issue because they do it not because they think every people/religious group should have their own nation or land in which the group might live safely. They support Israel because they see the creation of the nation as a necessary step to the Second Coming. In other words, they support Israel because it will, ultimately, lead to conversion of all Jews or death to those who refuse to believe in Christ. For many of us, that is an untenable reason to support the nation. It becomes even more untenable when one considers that this same group frequently says that if Jews don’t get on board, they’ll stop opposing anti-Jewish measures nationally and anti-Israeli measures internationally.
That’s not friendship, that’s coercion.
On the left, we’ve got people who think that every action Israel takes is unjustified. It doesn’t matter that Israel has just been attacked again by terrorists; if Israel responds it’s a sign Israel doesn’t want peace and is a dishonest negotiating partner the Palestinians, that poor, neglected group suffer under. Again, they ignore the attacks on Israel because they think the Palestinians are simply trying to protect themselves or regain land Israel wrongfully stole from the Palestinians.
Also on the left, they condemn Israel for wanting Jerusalem as its capital – because Palestinians want it for their capital. Never mind that Jerusalem has historically been the capital of a Jewish nation; because Palestinians claim it, it’s a Palestinian city and has nothing to do with Jews or Israel. Israel protests a United Nations Security Council vote and suddenly leftists are up in arms over Israel for any number of (imagined) sins against America and the poor, downtrodden Palestinians and Arabs within its borders. Because of those sins, they urge, America should (a) stop selling arms to Israel and (b) stop supporting Israel in any way, including in the UN and/or by grants-in-aid, as America gives to virtually every non-European country in the world.
As I said, Jews in America are being squeezed from the left and the right. The right wants all Jews rounded up and killed, again. They don’t think Jews should live, let alone have their own state. Right wing Christians want Jews to have their own state, but because it foreshadows the End Times. The left wants an end to all support for Israel, whether political or economic.
Because antisemitism exists on both sides of the political aisle, because Jews are squeezed on both sides, it’s a very trying and tenuous time for us. We don’t know where we can find allies and whether those who purport to support us have ulterior motives. It’s a frightening and uncertain time for many around the world.
It’s particularly frightening for those of us who are a religious minority.