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When Will I Know It Is Time to Leave?

by Rabbi Rami ShapiroAugust 22, 2019
Columnists
Jewish man engaged in morning prayers.

bbtomas/Getty Images

“I was not surprised when I got an email through my blog, asking me how we Jews will know when it is time for us to flee the United States for safer ground?”

I am an American Jew, not an Israeli Jew.

I spent three years in the United States Air Force, not the Israeli Defense Force.

I pay taxes to the United States, not Israel.

I vote in U.S. elections, not Israeli elections.

I do not hold dual citizenship (though if Canada would have me, I’d apply).

If Israelis continue to vote an illiberal democratic vision of Israel, that’s their business. My business is to fight against the illiberal democratic vision taking hold in my country.

Does this make me a disloyal American?

President Trump thinks so when he tweets that Jews like me who vote Democrat are either ignorant or disloyal. Disloyal to whom? To Israel? I’m not an Israeli. To my people? Seventy-eight percent of American Jews voted Democratic in 2018. To my country? Voting is the most patriotic thing an American can do.

Claiming Jews are disloyal to the countries in which they live is a centuries old Jew-hating trope. This is the not the first of President Trump’s anti-Semitic statements, and the fact that he hires court Jews to do his bidding does not protect the vast majority of us who refuse to do so.

Shortly after he tweeted about my being a disloyal American, the president retweeted a supporter who claimed Israeli Jews herald Trump as King of the Jews and the Second Coming of God. Putting aside the fact that the last guy to be declared the King of the Jews died on the Cross, and that Jews have no notion of the Second Coming of Anyone, if Donald Trump sees himself as the God of the Jews and King of Israel we have to wonder where his loyalties lie.

Given all of this, I was not surprised this morning when I got an email through my blog (rabbirami.com) asking me how we Jews will know when it is time for us to flee the United States for safer ground.

The truth is, I don’t know. And even if I did know when, I don’t know where. Noting the rise of Jew hatred in Europe, the Hindu nationalism of Modhi’s India, the illegality of Judaism in China, the Jew-hatred rampant in Russia, where can we flee? While Israel will welcome me, I hate the idea of running from one illiberal democracy to take refuge in another. Maybe New Zealand? Australia? Canada? I don’t know.

I haven’t packed my family up just yet. I’m waiting to see how the next election goes, but, given the Jew hatred on the Left, a Democratic majority may not be the haven I hope it is.

My dad told me this would happen. I thought he was insane. If you aren’t a Jew, you may think I’m insane. I hope you’re right, but I fear you’re wrong.

Read more Rabbi Rami here.


Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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