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Op-Ed: Are American Jews Political Weapons?

By: Yael Bister (12th Grade)

On August 20th, 2019, President Donald Trump declared that Deomcratic Jews have “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Trump made this statement in a meeting about U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who were being denied entry into Israel at the time. By stating this, Trump is using the American Jewish population as a political weapon.

This is not the first time American Jews have been used to create division in our country. In February of 2019, Rep. Omar tweeted that the American Jews, “were pushing for allegiance to a foreign country.” She then apologized for labeling American Jews as dual loyalists and deleted her tweet. This tweet, as well as Trump’s aforementioned comment, echo age-old antisemitic tropes. As an American Jew who cares deeply about Israel, hearing anti-semitism come from both American political parties at the same time is extremely frightening to me.

The issue of Israel has always been a hot topic, but currently American Jews and their relationship to Israel has been receiving excessive coverage, from both the media and politicians. Yes, Israel is one of the United States’ greatest allies, but it should not have this much attention devoted to it. Rather, the government should be focusing on things such as education, the economy, social justice issues, and ensuring a brighter future in this country. It is completely disrespectful and insulting to hear important members of the government accuse American Jews as being “disloyal” or “dual loyal” people.

Israel is something that is very important in my life, in my family’s life, and in my school life. I am part of organizations such as AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and StandWithUs, an organization that focuses on Israel education for the nation. I will protect Israel when people speak out against it or even question its existence.

Yet, despite my passion for the State of Israel, it is unfair to assume that I prioritize it. I am an American citizen. The foundations of this country: liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom of assembly are something that I will stand behind because that is what citizens of this country should do, no matter their party affiliation.

As an American Jew, it is scary to be singled out, weaponized, and used as a form of rhetoric for politicians. I hope that politicians can stop using American Jews as pawns in their political war and focus on what’s truly important: helping the American people by creating a unified society.

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