In terms of timing, it wasn’t ideal. Just hours before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the world stands to say ‘Never Again,’ Donald Trump slammed the door on those fleeing persecution, and started talking about deportations, attacking ‘refuge’ cities in the US.
You don’t need to be a doe-eyed liberal or bleeding-heart Jew to see that a ban on those from seven Muslim countries is crass at best, racist at worst. You don’t need to have dedicated your life to social-action, interfaith relations and eating lentils to realise that this is nasty ethno-centric populism. And you don’t need to be in the ISIS Propaganda Unit to get angry about it.
Donald Trump, our own prime minister’s new best transatlantic friend, is only doing what he needs to do in order to protect the United States from Islamic extremists. So say his remarkably few ideological allies, of which Benjamin Netanyahu is proudly one. Interestingly, America’s own defence establishment never sought to ban new arrivals based on their country of origin. They sought only better intelligence. Yet here we are.
The Donald is walling America off from jihadists (aka ‘Muslims’), Mexicans, reporters and anyone else he doesn’t like. In the same week, he’s signed off on snaking oil pipelines through Native American land and banned funds to groups upholding rape victims’ rights to abortions abroad.
When he was elected, this newspaper said he would be an unmitigated disaster for the world. We then gave him the benefit of the doubt. That lasted a week. It takes a special kind of man to omit mention of Jews on International Holocaust Memorial Day. In fact, it’s far more difficult NOT to mention Jews on International Holocaust Memorial Day. Something’s wrong. Something is very, very wrong here.
Mainstream Jewish groups across the world, including those in the UK, US and Israel, have spoken as one in condemning these ludicrous policies. Even Trump’s own party has turned against him.
These are mad times, but this is no time to dispense with that innate moral compass most Jews possess, regardless of whether there’s a trade deal to think of. Discriminatory policies are shameful.
We should offer no apologies for saying so.