Hamas Won Again

November 15, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman announced yesterday that he was resigning as defense minister and called for the government to be dismantled and new elections held.

Liberman said his decision followed Tuesday’s ceasefire agreement  between Israel and Hamas. Liberman’s action was essentially an open admission that Hamas had won the latest round of violence. “What happened yesterday, the ceasefire, together with the deal with Hamas, is a capitulation to terror. There is no other way of explaining it,” Liberman  told reporters on Wednesday.

Liberman has harsh words for the IDF as well.

“What we are doing right now is buying quiet for a heavy price with no long-term plan to reduce violence toward us…To put it lightly, our response was drastically lacking to the 500 rockets fired at us.”

But, in truth, the Israeli military doesn’t have a military solution to Israel’s  security problems. The IDF cannot win a war with either Hamas or  Hezbollah. This may explain PM Netanyahu’s frequent confrontations with Syria and Iran:  winning battles against sovereign entities may simply be more achievable for Israel and its Lobby than quelling unruly freedom fighters.

When it comes to Hamas and Gaza, Israel’s elected government comes short of setting military objectives. In this light, the IDF and the Israeli government are left with one option only: capitulation.

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Jewish Politics in America – A Post Political View

November 14, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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I was invited to join the Unz Review, here is a link to my first contribution:

http://www.unz.com/

“The two contradictory Jewish ideologies (Identitarianism and Israelism) are each well- ensconced within the two rival ideologies that are tearing America apart. The red Republican counties want America to be Israel Again. The large metropolitan areas near America’s coasts have adopted the twelve tribes of Israel model – a loose Identitarian coalition threatened by Samaritans, Canaanites, Amalekites or as Hillary Clinton calls them the ‘basket of deplorables.’

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In 1994 I enrolled in a postgraduate course in philosophy at a British University. On my first day at the University I had to complete a few routine administrative duties such as registering my name with the philosophy department and meeting my supervisors. I was also told that I had to join the student union. Being a subservient type, I walked over to the Student Union hall where I soon realized that the task was slightly more complicated than I had expected. There were a plethora of student unions to choose from: The Black Student Union, The Asian Student Association, The Socialist Students, The Gay Student Society and more. Confused, I asked for assistance. They asked where I was from. When I told them “Israel,” I was told that the “Jewish Student Union” was my home.

It was then, at the Student Union Hall, that I first encountered the identity split between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. It would take some time before I was able to define this binary tension in philosophical or post political terms and before I understood the Jewish dilemma in terms of Nationalist/Identitarian dialectics. Two decades later, the political battle now going on in America is basically an extension of that internal Jewish debate.

Back in 1994 I didn’t see any reason to join the Jewish Student Union. I had never identified ‘as a Jew’ and Judaism meant little to me. Israel was my place of birth. My ‘identity’ as I then saw it was geographically oriented. Fortunately, I managed to complete my postgraduate course without becoming a ‘union member.’ But my thoughts about that morning at the student union hall have evolved into a few controversial books and hundreds of papers on ID politics and the current Identitarian dystopia.

In 2011 I wrote The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. The premise of the book was that if Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’ then we have to dissect the meaning of the J-Word. We have to grasp how Judaism (the religion), Jews (the people) and Jewishness (the spirit, ideology and culture) relate to each other and how these terms influence Israeli politics and the activities of the Jewish Lobby around the world. Instead of studying ‘Zionism,’ an archaic term that is not relevant to most Israelis, my book focused on Jewish identifications. I did not address the problematic question of ‘who and what Jews are,’ I tried instead to find out what those who call themselves Jews identify with.

While this question is certainly germane to an understanding of Israel and the Middle East conflict, it is also crucial to an understanding of the current American dystopia. Instead of asking ‘who Americans are’ let us explore what Americans identify with.

In the post-political era, America is divided into two camps, let’s call them Americans and Identitarians. Americans see themselves primarily as American patriots. They often subscribe to a nationalist populist ideology and, like the Israelis, identify with a piece of geography. On the other hand, Identitarians are primarily liberals and progressives. They identify themselves in biological and sociological terms, and they see themselves first as LGBTQ, Latino, Black, Jewish, feminist etc. Their bond with the American nationalist ethos is at most secondary and often non-existent.

This division in America between ‘nationalism’ and ‘identitarianism’ is similar to the dichotomy I observed at the student union hall in 1994. In fact, Israel has become a prime model for American nationalists. Similarly, it is Jewish progressive ideology that inspires Identitarians globally and in America in particular. It is the pervasiveness of Jewish ideologies within both nationalist and Identitarian discourses that sustains the dominance of Jewish and Israeli political institutions in American politics.

The Israeli Lobby’s hegemony over American foreign policy and its force in advocating policies that favor Israel has been widely recognized. Numerous studies on the topic have been published, such as: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Prof John Mearsheimer and Prof Stephen Walt), The Power of Israel in The United State (Professor James Petras). Alison Weir’s website, If Americans Knew routinely presents a devastating chronicle of Israeli intervention in American politics. The Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs has been producing outstanding work as well. The crucial question is, why have Americans let this happen?

My study of Jewish ID politics suggests that America isn’t just influenced by one Jewish lobby or another. The entire American political-cultural-spiritual spectrum has been transformed into a internal Jewish exchange. Most American do not see the true nature of the battle they participate in and, for the obvious reasons, their media and their academics do not help. It is more convenient to keep Americans in the dark.

America is rapidly moving towards a civil war. The divide isn’t only ideological or political. The split is geographical, spiritual, educational and demographical. In a Voxarticle titled, “The Midterm Elections Revealed that America is in a Cold Civil War,” Zack Beauchamp writes, “This is a country fundamentally split in two, with no real room for compromise.” Of the midterm election Beauchamp reports that “American politics is polarized not on the basis of class or even ideology, but on identity… One side open to mass immigration and changes to the country’s traditional racial hierarchy, the other is deeply hostile to it.” He correctly observes that “Republicans and Democrats see themselves as part of cultural groups that are fundamentally distinct: They consume different media and attend different churches; live in distinct kinds of places and rarely interact with people who disagree with them.”

Despite this American schism, Israel and its Lobby are somehow able to influence both sides, managing to finding pathways to the secluded corridors of both parties. Although Democrats and Republicans can no longer talk to each other, it seems that both are happy to talk to Israel and the Lobby. And it is at AIPAC’s annual conference that these political foes compete in their eagerness to appease a foreign state. This anomaly in American politics demands attention.

As a former Israeli, I had not observed the effects of the Israel/ Jewish Diaspora dilemma until I had my experience at the Student Union Hall in Britain. Israel was born with the Zionist desire to eradicate the identity of Jews as cosmopolitans. Zionism promised to bond the Jew with the soil, with a territory, with borders. Thus, it is consistent with the Zionist paradigm that Israel is notorious for its appalling treatment of asylum seekers, immigrants and, of course, the indigenous people of the land. Israel has surrounded itself with separation walls. Israel deployed hundreds of snipers in its fight to stop the March of Return – a ‘caravan’ of Palestinian refugees who were marching towards its border. Israel has been putting into daily practice that which Trump has promised to deliver. For a Trump supporter, Israel’s politics is a wet dream. Maybe Trump should consider tweaking his motto in 2020 into ‘Let’s make America Israel.’ This would encompass building separation walls, bullying America’s neighbors, the potential to cleanseAmerica of the ‘enemy within,’ and so on. It is not surprising that in 2016 Trump beat Clinton in an Israeli absentee exit poll. The Israelis do love Trump. To them, he is a vindication of their hawkish ideological path. Although during the election Trump was castigated as a vile anti-Semite and a Hitler figure by the Jewish progressive press, once elected, Fox News was quick to point out that Trump was actually the ‘First Jewish President.’

We can see that Israel, Trump and his voters have a lot in common. They want militant anti immigration policies , they love ‘walls,’ they hate Muslims and they believe in borders. When alt right icon Richard Spencer described himself on Israeli TV as “a White Zionist” he was actually telling the truth. Israel puts into practice the ideas that Spencer and Trump can so far only entertain. But the parallels between Israel and the Trump administration’s Republican voters is just one side of the story.

In my recent book, Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, I point out that while the old, good Left tried to unite us by insisting that it was not important whether one was Black, a Woman, a Muslim, a Jew or Gay; in the class war, we were all united against capitalism. It was the new Left that taught us to speak ‘as a’: as a Jew, as a Gay, as a Black and so on. Instead of being one people united in the struggle for justice and equality, within the post political realm we are pulled into endless identity battles.

Seemingly, this Identitarian revolution has been inspired by a few Jewish ideological and philosophical schools including, most importantly, the Frankfurt School. Truth must be said, when it comes to ID politics, Diaspora Jewish ideologists are often slightly more advanced than others, not because Jews are more clever than anyone else but simply because Jews have engaged in identity politics far longer than anyone else. While Gay identity politics is about four decades old and Feminism is maybe a century old, Jewish identity politics started in Babylon two and a half millennia ago. In fact, Judaism can be realised as an exilic Identitarian project. It deliberately and carefully sustains Jewish cultural, spiritual and physical segregation. Although Jews often drop their religion and dispose of God, many cling to Jewishness. For one reason or another, Jews often choose to operate within Jews- only political cells such as Jewish Voice for PeaceJewish Voice for Labour and so on. These Jewish bodies tend to preach inclusiveness while practicing exclusivity.

So it is hardly surprising that Jewish Identitarian philosophy and Jewish Identitarian success provides the model that inspires most, if not all, Identitarian politics within the New Left milieu in general and the current Democratic Party in particular. This isn’t the place to discuss at length or in depth the reasons behind Jewish identitarian success, however, it should be mentioned that while most Identitarians are taught to celebrate victimhood, to blame others for their misfortune, Jewish Identitarianism has a subtle dynamic balance between victimhood and entitlement.

Naturally, Jewish ideologists are at the helm of the Identitarian revolution. Maybe more well known is the fact that a chief funder of that revolution is financier George Soros and his Open Society Institute. Soros may genuinely believe in the Identitarian future: It is cosmopolitan, it is global, it defies borders and states but far more significantly, it also serves to divert attention from Wall Street and capitalist crimes: as long as Identitarians fight each other, no one bothers to fight Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and corporate tyranny. Soros didn’t invent this strategy, it has long been called ‘divide and conquer.’

The abovesheds light on the depth of influence of Jewish politics in America. While Israel is an exemplar of contemporary Republican goals, Democrats are emulating Jewish Diaspora identitarianism. The two contradictory Jewish ideologies are each well- ensconced within the two rival ideologies that are tearing America apart. The red Republican counties want America to be Israel Again. Thelarge metropolitan areas near America’s coasts have adopted the twelve tribes of Israel model – a loose Identitarian coalition threatened by Samaritans, Canaanites, Amalekites or as Hillary Clinton calls them the ‘basket of deplorables.’

The story of Jewish political strength in America doesn’t end there. A New York Jew can easily metamorphosize from an hard-core Identitarian into rabid Zionist settler and vice versa, but such a manoeuvre is not available to ordinary Americans. White nationalist Richard Spencer can not make the political shift that would turn him into a progressive or a liberal just as it is unlikely that a NY transsexual icon would find it possible to become a ‘redneck.’ While Jewish political identity is inherently elastic and can morph endlessly, the American political divide is fairly rigid. Jewish ideologists frequently change positions and camps, they shift from left to right, from Clinton to Trump (Dershowitz), they support immigration in their host counties yet oppose it in their own Jewish State, they are against rigid borders and even states in general, yet support the two state solution in Palestine (Chomsky). Gentiles are less flexible. They are expected to be coherent and consistent.

It was this manoeuvrability that made PM Netanyahu’s 2015 speech in front of a joint session of Congress a ‘success,’ although it might well have been considered a humiliation for any American with an ounce of patriotic pride. As we wellknow, Bibi can communicate easily with both Republicans and Democrats just as he cansimultaneously befriend Trump and Putin. He deploys snipers at the Gaza border with orders to kill while considerately peppering his statements with LGBTQ human rights advocacy. Not many Americans have dared to address this topic, but I believe that there are some who, by now, can see the situation clearly.

It was the Israeli in me who saw the disparity between ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jew’ at the Student Union Hall because I was raised as an Israeli patriot. I was trained to love and even die for the soil I mistakenly believed to be mine. As an Israeli, I was also trained to think tribal but speak universal, and I learned how to whine as a victim yet exercise oppression. But at a certain point in my life, around my thirties, I started to find all of it too exhausting. I wanted to simplify things. I demoted myself into an ordinary human being.

Divide and Conquer

November 07, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

I am not even remotely a Trump supporter,  but I do think that he has managed to expose the spectrum of western political morbidity, both left and right. Trump is the ultimate Post Political icon — the symptom as well as the disease.

For the last four decades, the West has been subjected to an intense cultural and social revolution. The cause of ‘social justice’ has made some fundamental changes in western society.  Elementary rights, such as the freedom to think openly, have been eradicated and replaced by a strict regime of correctness. In retrospect, it was reasonable to believe that there was little significant resistance to these social justice heroes. During that time, it seemed that their agenda had prevailed. Just five years ago it looked as if the Tyranny of Correctness was here to stay. But then, unexpectedly, the tide changed.

First the Scottish referendum let us know that every other Scot wanted to separate from the Kingdom. Soon after, half of the Brits voted to split from the EU, and then, totally unexpectedly, Trump won the presidential election.

It was Trump’s victory that really brought the identity war to the fore. For whatever reason, it was Trump and his combative rhetoric that most clearly exposed the demarcation line that divides the West.

America, like the rest of the West, is split into  ‘Identitarians’ and ‘Nationalists:’ Identitarians identify politically with their symptoms. These symptoms may be ethnic or cultural but most often are biological (skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, race, etc.). Nationalists, on the other hand, are people who identify politically with a piece of geography that is defined by their national borders.

‘Nationalists’ are not necessarily right-wing. As I explore in my recent book, Being in Time-a Post Political Manifesto, Trump’s nationalist populism shares some characteristics with left icons such as Bernie Sanders and the populism of British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. All three politicians resist divisive Identitarian ideologies. Steve Bannon, the bete noir of liberal America, explored this idea in a recent televised debate: “It is not a question whether populism is on the rise.. the only question before us is whether it is going to be populist nationalism or populist socialism…”

Populism is back everywhere, which raises the question of whether Trump is, in fact,  a populist. Does he actually care for the people or about the people? I do not see any clear evidence of that. Trump behaves as an oligarch, bonded with international oligarchy. Trump is popular, but ‘popularity’ and ‘populism’ are distinct concepts. The former refers to being loved by the people, the latter is someone who cares for the people. Liberals and progressives who castigate Trump as a ‘fascist’ should understand that while fascism is defined as a ‘National Socialist’ endeavour, Trump is more a ‘National Capitalist.’  He is popular because he successfully delivers a populist message.

This morning there is a new political situation. Trump is not going to save America. Even if he once believed that he could do so, the window for such a manoeuvre has closed. It is unlikely that Trump will be able to make significant changes. The Democratic House of Representatives will likely reject his initiatives. Despite this, Trump’s presence in the White House has revealed the conflict that shatters the West. The old political battle between Left and Right has been replaced by post- political Identitarian wars. WW3 is not going to be fought between countries, or states or across borders. It will be a war that splits states, societies and even families apart.

While Donald Trump’s promise to make America Great carried little substance, the red portion of the map of America shows a clear divide. As you move away from America’s coasts, a lot of people do not want what the liberals are offering. They want work, secure borders, education and health services. They want America to be great for real. They want justice and equality. They may or may not be bothered by uncertain or unconventional genders, they are far more concerned with being able to get a decent job.

Whether anyone within the Democratic or the Republican party truly understands this longing is an open question. But I have no doubt that the thirst for a radical change is going to bring more populist politics to America and beyond.

To understand the current dystopia read Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, 

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Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com and  here (gilad.co.uk).

Being in Midterm Election

November 05, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Ahead of the American Midterm Election I reprint a short segment from Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto. It seems to me as if most political commentators are yet to grasp the post-political transition: the growing divide that extends far beyond politics, ideology, ethnicity and class.

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“America is divided into two camps: the Americans and the Identitarians. The Americans are those who see themselves primarily as American patriots. They are driven by rootedness and heritage. For them, the promise to make ‘America great again’ confirms that utopia is nostalgia and that the progressive and liberal offerings are nothing short of an ongoing disaster. The Identitarians, on the other hand, are those who subscribe to liberal and progressive politics. They see themselves primarily as LGBTQ, Latino, Black, Jewish, feminist and so on. Their bond with the American national or patriotic ethos is secondary and often even non-existent.

But the Identitarian agenda backfired. It was only a question of time before the so-called ‘Whites’, ‘rednecks’ ‘deplorables’ and ‘reactionaries’ grasped that their backs were against the wall and they too, started to act and think as an Identitarian political sector. For these folks, the American flag became their symbolic identifier as well as unifier.

Those of us who have critically examined the evolution of New Left, progressive, liberal and Identitarian politics were unsurprised by Donald Trump’s success. Indeed, the defeat of the Remain camp in the UK Brexit poll had previously exposed a similar fatigue amongst British working people. But what is the nature of this fatigue?

Our urban financial quarters are now saturated with glass skyscrapers metaphorically designed to convey transparency as well as fragility. But when you stand close to these glass towers you realize that the wall in front of you is no window but a mirror. And when you attempt to peep in, all you see is yourself standing outside. Being in Time is an attempt to grasp that sense, that ‘post-political’ condition of being left outside.” (Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto pg 7)

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Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto,

Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com and  here (gilad.co.uk).

Questioning Jewish Progressive Wisdom

November 02, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

 There is an element of truth in the above…

There is an element of truth in the above…

By Gilad Atzmon

Earlier this week the Jewish Forward reported on Monday’s counter-Trump demonstration in Pittsburgh.

“They came in their thousands, singing Jewish songs and folksy protest anthems … (they were) holding signs denouncing Donald Trump as ‘President Hate.’”

I think it is not a clever move for leftist Jewish groups to declare that Trump is to blame for the terror attack in Pittsburgh. In fact, some might see it as irresponsible, and a response that could easily provoke further harassment and violence.

Most disturbing to me about the Jewish progressives’ response to Trump’s visit was the blunt dishonesty reflected in the signs and announcements of the protestors and organisers.

According to the Forward one sign read,

“you know who else was a nationalist? Hitler.”

Hitler was indeed a nationalist but so was Churchill, Gandhi, Herzl and even the 52% of the Brits who voted for Brexit. Nationalism isn’t the problem: Racism is.  Accordingly, we tend to believe that it was racism that drove Hitler’s discriminatory ideology. But the ‘progressive’  Jewish groups who opposed Trump this week aren’t free of racism. They themselves are operating as racially exclusive political groups. I have said it many times before. I struggle to see a categorical difference between Aryans only and Jews only clubs. To me, both are equally racist.

“Speakers from Bend the Arc, the progressive Jewish group that organised the march, castigated Trump and what they saw as his complicity in the attack, allegedly perpetrated by an anti-Semite who shared Trump’s anti-refugee views.”

It is comforting to learn that  Jewish progressives support some refugees; do they also support the Palestinian refugees?

Israel has prevented the ethnically cleansed Palestinians from returning  to their land for more than 70 years.  The Jewish State’s record on refugees and asylum seekers is appalling. But it seems the progressive Jews at Bend the Arc have little to say about that. I searched Bend the Arc’s web site and didn’t find any denouncements of the Jewish State’s anti refugee policies.  Maybe in the Jewish progressive universe one rule applies to the Jewish State and another rule to the sea of Goyim.

Noticeably,  the Bend the Arc event was not the only protest in town: A previous rally event had been held nearby, organized by the leftist Jewish group IfNotNow in collaboration with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other groups.

“We know Trump is responsible for violence in our city,” IfNotNow and DSA organizer Arielle Cohen told the Forward. “ Trump has been the enabler-in-chief.” I fail to see the evidence that supports Cohen’s strongly worded accusations. And I wonder whether the decision makers at IfNotNow and JVP grasp the danger they may inflict on their communities by making such provocative accusations.

It is interesting to contrast this reaction to that of the members of the African American congregation that was targeted in 2015 by Dylann Roof, a self-professed racist shooter, who killed 9 people who had invited him into their bible study. After the shooting, Mr. Roof was unrepentant but the reaction of the victims and their families contrasts sharply with the progressive reaction to the Pittsburg massacre.

At Mr. Roof’s bond hearing, the victim’s relatives spoke directly to Roof. “You took something very precious from me”  Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance said. “But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

“I acknowledge that I am very angry,” said the sister of DePayne Middleton-Doctor. “But one thing that DePayne … taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”

Each speaker offered Roof forgiveness and said they were praying for his soul, even as they described the pain of their losses. Not one speaker blamed political leaders or anti Black sentiment. They correctly saw Roof as the culprit, even as they compassionately prayed for him. There is much to admire in the congregation’s reaction. It was the opposite of inflammatory, intended to calm the situation.

If the goal is to unite America, to bridge the divide and calm things down, probably equating your president with Hitler and accusing him of the hate crimes of others is the worst possible path to choose.

 

The Lobby has Leaked

November 02, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

 

Jewish power as I define it is the power to silence criticism of Jewish Power. This power has been dwindling…

Is Citizenship a Jewish Issue?

November 01, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Eve Mykytyn

Aviya Kushner’s piece in The Forward, “Why Trump’s Callous Call to End Birthright Citizenship is a Jewish Issue,” is a bizarre attempt at victimhood especially after a group of Jews have just experienced real victimhood. Mr. Trump has made no secret of his desire to stop illegal immigration from the south, and Jews may rightly be incensed that he is using immigration as a campaign tactic, particularly demonising Hispanics, but Ms Kushner fails to show how this is a Jewish issue rather than an issue for the United States as a whole.

Ms Kushner begins by raising the alarm that Trump has threatened to strip American-born citizens of their citizenship. First, as Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin point out in the New York Times, the president’s threat rings hollow. Like his promise of a 10% tax reduction, this seems a campaign line with little chance of success.  Second, his threat, although it is difficult to discern its precise terms, did not seem to be meant to apply retroactively. Third, it is generally accepted that the 14th Amendment, although intended to confer citizenship on former slaves, clearly states that citizenship in the United States is given to all born here. The words are clear.

 “All persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Trump has stated erroneously that no other country grants citizenship by birth, once again dissing our neighbor to the north. He is generally correct however, most countries including all of Europe, do not grant citizenship by place of birth alone. So if  citizenship by place of birth is a problem, it is not uniquely a Jewish problem or even an American problem.

Ms Kushner recites a number of places and times that Jews were denied citizenship and/or expelled. She ends this list  with the confusing line that, “Citizenship also means the right to leave. To flee, life intact. By the late 1930s, it became virtually impossible for Jews to find shelter elsewhere.”  While it is true Jews had trouble finding refuge during World War II, the problem was that citizenship did not protect them. In the context of the holocaust, citizenship was irrelevant. If anything, the Nuremberg Laws stripping Jews of their citizenship, encouraged Jews to find safety elsewhere.

“President Trump’s comments that he could override the Constitution and remove citizenship, at will, should send alarms throughout the Jewish community…History says so.”  Actually, there may be many reasons to disagree with President Trump, but perhaps the alarm in the Jewish community should come from incorrectly positing themselves as victims.

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