President Trump Has Shattered Jews’ American Idyll

This is the second of our posts about the reaction to Donald Trump’s election as President of the USA – they serve to demonstrate the diverse views and uncertainty around what might happen.

American Jews have transformed virtually overnight from insiders to outsiders; the appointment of ex-Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon, an accused anti-Semite, as chief strategist, is bound to exacerbate the tensions.

Those were the best of times, arguably, but these may be the worst of times. That’s the way most American Jews must feel as they wake up with a massive hangover from the shock election results and the reality that Donald Trump will soon be President of the United States.

Whatever differences American Jews may have had with Barack Obama over the Iran nuclear deal and Middle East peace, they’ve never had a president who was more in tune with their Jewish and liberal essence.
Obama was the realization of the American Jewish vision of a multicultural society, a dream come true for a generation of civil rights activists. He promoted and embodied the liberal ideals that American Jews are more attached to than any other religious group in America. And he was more knowledgeable about American Jewish culture and Yiddishkeit than any previous president, bar none. Even when they disagreed with him, most American Jews, with the exception of the vocal minority that hated his guts, viewed Obama as a mensch (a person of integrity and honour).

It is probably no coincidence that during his tenure, American Jews reached a pinnacle of social and cultural acceptance. Being American Jews was hip. It was cool. It was the thing to be. From Jon Stewart to Jerry Seinfeld, from Joe Lieberman to Bernie Sanders, Jews seemed to be more entrenched than ever before in the American mainstream.

Pew Research Polls repeatedly confirmed that Jews were the most loved and most admired religious group in all of America. Mashiach-zeit, old timers would say, but with a note of caution, because if Jewish history teaches anything, it is that all things must pass.

The election of Donald Trump has shattered the Jewish idyll, all across the board. Although one must give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt that he is not an anti-Semite himself, he has frequently promoted disparaging Jewish stereotypes in his personal statements.

Sunday evening’s appointment of former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon as chief strategist in the White House is bound to exacerbate Jewish tensions. He is considered the standard bearer for the racist, anti-immigrant alt-right movement and has been accused of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments himself.

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