While campaigning in Iowa during the primary season, Donald Trump told a cheering crowd that he would establish a national database upon which all Muslim-Americans would be legally obligated to register. The guiding principles underlying such a registry were clear to everyone: Muslim citizens are suspect, and should be tracked and monitored both transparently and with frightening ease.
Those who might have otherwise dismissed Trump’s proposal as a vote-whipping device were forced to confront that his words should be taken literally this week, for as surrogates renewed talk of such a registry, Trump named Michael Flynn as his national security advisor, a man who once wrote that “fear of Muslims is rational.”
This prompted Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), to tell a crowd gathered on the topic of anti-Semitism that, should such a registry be created, he would sign up as Muslim:
“If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim.”
It was a welcome and bold statement from Greenblatt, particularly given the ADL’s checkered past when it comes to fighting anti-Muslim bigotry. For as an organization dedicated both to fighting hate and advocating for Israel, a tension has long existed between these two mandates, sometimes leading it to champion Islamophobic positions in the perceived service of Israel advocacy.
This time, Greenblatt and the ADL got it right. So much so that his statement has prompted American Jews across the country to nod yes and declare that they, too, are prepared to join such a registry if actually implemented by a Trump administration.
And it’s no surprise why: American Jews know what it means to be singled out and numbered. The tattoos which marked my grandparents’ flesh, and the flesh of so many of our relatives, stand as a visceral testament to how intimately we understand the implications of floating the idea of such a database.
This is why I’ve publicly joined Greenblatt’s call, and am determined to sign my name if such a database is ever established. It’s why countless American Jews and allies have made a similar pledge.
If Trump decides to track Muslim citizens, then we will all become Muslim.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published by Oneworld Publications (London).
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.
Jonathan Greenblatt needs to be recognized and commended for his highly principled and noble act of taking a stand against the outrageous and probably most unconstitutional Donald Trump notion, that ALL members of a religion can be targeted when criminals carry out terrorizing and horrific act of inhuman aggression claiming falsely that they are doing it for “their” interpretation of the fundamental principles of a religion, when in reality, in the case of members of Al Qaeda, Al Nousra, and Daesh (aka IS, ISIS, ISL) by their beastly destruction of human life of Muslims, Christians, Jews, and seculars, are violating said fundamental principles of said religion, in this case the Koran.
All Jews, should do the same, as this writer of this Argentum Post will, since he is a direct descendant of parents who survived the Nazi crimes against the humanity of Jews and others.
I am a (Gaelic) Catholic Christian, 83 years old. My Christian faith is rooted in Judaism, firmly rooted in Jesse’s Tree. These roots and all that they signify run deep in my soul and in my faith life and are a source of pride and gratitude.
I salute ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt for his admirable (and risky) proposed action and David Harris-Gershon for his opinion here and his promise to take the same action.
In the name of Yeshua, I, too, vow that if the evil Trump were to create such a national database, I will proudly sign my name and join forces with my Jewish brothers and sisters. ‘They’ can only destroy us once and then we will spend Eternity with Yahweh.
Addendum re grammatical error:
Third paragraph, last sentence, ‘They’ refers back to ‘evil Trump’ (et al).
This proud Christian will register as a Muslim too… In the name of tolerance, unity, and the removal of ignorance. God bless.
The Algemeiner recently reported that “After weeks of escalating criticism of Israel by the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and the leading 2016 Democratic presidential contender, on Sunday called for the renewal of the ‘special’ relationship between the US and the Jewish state. In a telephone conversation with Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Clinton said that she ‘thinks we need to all work together to return the special US-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests.'”
One can understand the nervousness of Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats about the effect that President Obama’s relentless vendetta against PM Netanyahu may have on the Jewish vote. But before displaying a beggar-like gratitude for her recitation of clichés, American Jews might examine her own record, for example as First Lady, for (possible) evidence of just where she stands in the unending war of ideas over the state in which more than half the world’s Jews live. It is a state which (unbeknownst to Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough, who on March 23 regaled a J Street conference with venomous abuse of Israel) has not known one moment of peace since it came into being in 1948, long before there were any “occupied” territories.
In May 1993 a flurry of newspaper and magazine articles revealed that Hillary Clinton’s crusade to bring the reign of virtue to a selfish and benighted America was to be carried out under the spiritual tutelage of Michael Lerner, the Jewish leftist “thinker,” self-promoter, and editor of Tikkun magazine, a publication itself dedicated (according to its official motto that appeared in each issue) “to heal, repair and transform the world.” Lerner had been much in the news during the previous two years for incessantly declaring that Israelis were too much at ease in Zion. Apparently dissatisfied with the little disturbances visited upon Israelis by Iraqi missiles, bombs exploding in nurseries, schools, and supermarkets, or stabbings and shootings in buses, he recommended “bringing the war home” by “disrupting the daily operation of Israeli society” (Jerusalem Post, 13 July 1991), by refusing military service, for example.
Lerner, it turned out, would be visiting the White House to instruct the first lady in “the politics of meaning” and also of “caring and sharing.” “As Michael Lerner and I discussed,” Mrs. Clinton announced, “we have to first create a language that would better communicate what we are trying to say, and the policies would flow from that language.” (“Saint Hillary,” by Michael Kelly, New York Times Magazine, 23 May 1993).
To people not beguiled by Lerner, his “language” has always been redolent less of mind than of pudding and corn-mush. “I proposed that the Clinton Administration establish a policy where, for any proposed legislation . . . there would have to be written first an Ethical and Community Environmental Impact Report . . . to report how the proposed legislation or new program would impact on shaping the ethics and the caring and sharing of the community covered by that agency.” “The 1970s and ’80s in the US were dominated,” Lerner had written, “by this belief that the individual had only him/herself [rather than “the system”] to blame if s/he faced a life that was unfulfilling.” (Although a very slovenly writer, Lerner is a diligent gender warden and pronoun policeman.) Insofar as readers could penetrate the New Age pseudo-jargon that emanated from this odd couple, it appeared that Lerner had promised to distill for Mrs. Clinton the essence of the ethical ideas of the Bible for application to public policy. She had, moreover, proved a ready pupil, one who could say to him, with characteristic elegance, at a White House reception: “Am I your mouthpiece or what?” (Washington Post, 9 June 1993)
Who, everybody began to ask, was the First Lady’s new “guru”? Journalists with poor memories or a weak instinct for research mistakenly referred to him as being-prior to his elevation by the Clintons-“welcomed virtually nowhere.” (New York Times Magazine, 27 June 1993) In fact, he had been a favorite of the news media ever since he began, in 1986, to promote the “Palestinian” cause within the Jewish community, where his name had been a familiar one since the late 1960s, partly for his aggression against that community itself, partly because of his involvement in radical causes generally.
In the fall of 1969 Lerner had commenced his open battle with what he called “the Jewish establishment” of “fat cats and conformists” in an article entitled “Jewish New Leftism at Berkeley” in Judaism magazine. It included such utterances as the following: “The Jewish community is racist, internally corrupt, and an apologist for the worst aspects of American capitalism and imperialism.” “Black antisemitism is a tremendous disgrace to Jews; for this is not an antisemitism rooted in. . . hatred of the Christ-killers but rather one rooted in the concrete fact of oppression by Jews of blacks in the ghetto. . . in part an earned antisemitism.” “. . . The synagogue as currently established will have to be smashed.” “This anti-Zionism [of young Jews] is irrational in its conclusions [that Israel should be destroyed] but “I know it to be correct in its fundamental impulses.”
“The child is father of the man,” wrote Wordsworth. By the time Hillary Clinton discovered Lerner, the young man who in 1970 used to wear a revolutionist’s bandana had become “Rabbi Lerner,” playing with his skullcap before a background of Jewish books while “explaining” the intifada (which lasted from 1987-91) for the TV cameras by blaming the Jews for the aggression of their enemies. Lerner had grown fat on the intifada and used the constant burden of peril of the people of Israel as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement. Was it for these efforts that he was rewarded by being elevated, to borrow a favorite phrase from Tikkun magazine, to the status of Court Jew of the Left, or was the first lady really enraptured by his vapid maundering about “the politics of meaning”? Let us hope that the sentimentally Christian Mrs. Clinton, whose theology tends to be formed by her politics, saw in Lerner only an exotic purveyor of Jewish-accented leftism and not a Jewish exponent of “liberation theology” who had given to it the original twist of wishing to discredit rather than liberate the community from which he came and the homeland to which it is attached.
So far there is no evidence that Lerner poured his ideas on the world’s need for a Palestinian state into Mrs. Clinton’s ear during their White House meeting of 26 April 1993. But wait-Lerner recalls telling her: “Gee, I have so many things that we ought to discuss.” And she replied, “Well, we don’t have to do it all today; this is just the first of several meetings.” (Washington Times, 7 June 1993). Of course Lerner by now has other meetings of presidential weight to attend: he has been a dedicated member of the “Rabbinic Cabinet” of J Street, the very organization for which Obama’s Chief of Staff McDonough delivered his keynote address tirade against Israel just a few days ago.