Thank you, Billy Joel and hundreds of years of Jewish history in America.
First of all Mike Pence’s “stock of Abraham” has been called an “odd locution” from President George Washington, writes Professor Henry E. Graff, Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University in the introduction to the book Presidents of the United States & the Jews by David G. Dalin and Alfred J. Kolatch.
And things do get worse throughout the speech that Pence gave in Jerusalem as he mixed truths will fiction. That is the same kind of fiction, silent fiction, that he achieves the same within relation to Donald Trump.
Jews in America were vigilant and during my trip to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island we were told that the Jews built the synagogue with a secret basement and there was speculation that it was built to escape an American Pogrom. The Touro letter is discussed in the introduction as are Jews who were prominent in America’s early history including the Revolutionary War.
In that introduction are the reasons why George Washington had the support of the Jews, his humble demeanor and respect for all.
How has the office of the president changed? Washington took the cue from Moses Seixas, who had invited him, by repeating the critical words that Jews wanted him to express and they were “which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” There were concerns about religious freedom and safety and there was discrimination as Jews were not allowed to vote and hold public office.
The Rhode Island colony had been founded for religious freedom, but it was clear that the Puritan founders wanted to dominate as they set up their “New Jerusalem.” Jews were on a list with Baptists, Quakers, and others at that time who were not granted full citizenship.
There were only a couple of thousand Jews in the United States at the time of the Revolutionary War and Jews did distinguish themselves as about a hundred Jews joined the armed struggle against England.
Leo Frank was hung by a mob in Georgia and this helped restore the Ku Klux Klan. Justice Louis D. Brandeis received taunts from a fellow Supreme Court member. Henry Ford blamed Jews in his periodical The Dearborn Independent.
By the time I was eleven years old, I was learning about the Klan. My grandmother called the Ku Klux Klan the Ku Ku Klan. A couple of years later, I was told by a Jewish businessman who was like a family member and whose knish factory stayed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn until the last few years, that his father, upon moving to Florida, put a big Jewish star on the property to show people that he was not afraid. This was the education of Jews.
Franklin D. Roosevelt did not permit the St. Louis, a passenger ship filled with Jews, to enter the United States as the cause of those Jews was very unpopular (about two-thirds of Americans opposed helping them). I found out in the last fifteen years that there were undocumented Jews in the United States during the 1940s. I, even indirectly, helped an Israeli who overstayed his or her visa in the last decade.
Today in the United States and in Israel we face similar problems. Israeli pilots refuse to fly African immigrants back to their countries for fear of those men, women, and children being killed. Jews and others are fighting hard to protect DACA recipients who will lose their protection in a couple of months if Congress does not act. Donald Trump may be forced to do what President Obama did to protect those young men and women.
People from El Salvador, a nation that quickly recognized the State of Israel, have lost Temporary Protection Status that granted them the right to work, obtain a driver’s license, and more. Undocumented immigrants who were promised protection from arrest and deportation are being arrested and deported.
Trump in his war on crime indicated that he would go after the criminals, but people even with misdemeanors have been targeted.
All of this is part of the Trump-Netanyahu Alliance that must come to an end. With more than seventy percent in polls supporting DACA, the Trump demand DACA for his wall and other items should be anathema to all, especially if I add the word Jewish to DACA or allude to the legalization of Jews during the Holocaust.
This is no time to make a deal and treat those youth as a piece of real estate. This is about saving lives as well as showing our humanity to others.
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