The Jewish Split: Then and Now

David Weinraub

By David Weinraub

Will some of my fellow Jews ever learn that autocrats are not our friends, and can’t we recognize that many among us believe in autocracy and theocracy? How can we keep our synagogues, community centers and children safe if we don’t remember the trials of our grandparents?

Led by Max Naumann and his Association of German National Jews, a block of Jewish voters in Germany cast their ballots for Hitler in the 1932 election. In 2016 and again in 2020, a little over 20% of Jewish voters in the U.S. went for Trump. Moreover, Orthodox and Republican Jews cast the bulk of those votes. So despite the span of 90 years, the similarity in voting trends is frightening.

In early 1930s Germany, Hitler had long since begun his intense attack on the Jews. By the U.S. 2020 election, Trump had already publicly courted the white supremacists with his words and actions, succeeded in forcing the elected Republican Party moderates to be silent or leave, and encouraged states to restrict voting eligibility.

Can someone please explain why Orthodox and Republican Jews could support Hitler and Trump? In our 2020 election, according to the Pew Foundation, approximately 75% of Orthodox Jews voted for Donald Trump (some polls were higher), along with other Republican Jews. The Pew totals were 77% of Jews voted for Biden and 22% for Trump.

Joining the Orthodox vote in Nazi Germany were some upper-level Jews who were highly successful in retail, real estate, publishing and banking. Some of these folks felt that Hitler’s rants were aimed at lower-class Jews and nothing would happen to them because they were too valuable. Also, if Hitler went after socialist, communist, and trade union Jews, it was OK because those groups were a pain to the upper-crust Jews. Well, we know how that theory worked out.

The rise in antisemitism during Trump’s years in office has been well-documented. “The surge of hate in the last few years is unmistakable,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti Defamation League, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We’ve been talking about our anxiety about the normalization of anti-Semitism and, sure enough, in 2019, we saw a 14% increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes. Extremists feel emboldened, and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and anti-Jewish ideas are generally taking root,” he said. “Jews feel less safe. Jews are extremely worried about this.”

Before his death, billionaire Sheldon Adelson strongly supported the Republican Jewish Coalition and gave Trump a monster donation to get the American embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the RJC has an opposite opinion than 77% of American Jews, and it seems personal financial benefits and tax breaks are more important than a democratic government. Ninety years after the 1932 German election, some wealthy Jews still can’t see the danger in front of their noses.

A Pew Foundation survey found that 75% percent of Orthodox Jews have reported they experienced an antisemitic incident. And yet, they continue to support the current Republican Party, which has embraced the far-right white supremacists. They are responsible for most of these incidents. So why do Orthodox and Republican Jews provide money and votes to the far-right white supremacists who will come after us after getting rid of those Blacks and browns?

I firmly believe that most far-right Trumpers are racists and are, therefore, single-issue voters. How else could they avoid recognizing all the evil Trump has done? Are the 22% Jewish Trump voters also racists?

I wrote this essay to show the similarities in Jewish voting in 1932 Germany and 2020 America. However, since the 2020 presidential election, Trump, with the overt or covert collaboration of many Republicans, has tried to overturn our Constitution and illegally seize control of the U.S. government.

On June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the congressional Jan. 6 committee. She provided irrefutable evidence of the planned and brutal involvement of far-right extremist organizations operating with the blessing and planning help of Trump. He also knew that many rioters were armed and didn’t care if Vice President Pence got hung.

How can 22% of Jewish voters support this far-right, white supremacist version of the Republican Party? How can they ignore the evidence presented before the Jan. 6 congressional committee? How can they say it won’t happen here? It already did, and we’re fortunate the coup plot failed.

As I write this essay, a few Republicans have moved away from Trump, but not many. So unless Trump is found guilty of a crime, he will run again. It may well be Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis if it’s not Trump, and DeSantis is more dangerous because he’s smarter.

Please, Jewish Trump voters, don’t tell me you’re voting for the far-right white supremacists because you believe they are stronger supporters of Israel. That makes you a single-issue voter. You almost helped to destroy our democracy in 2020. Please learn from our history.

David Weinraub has been a high school principal, graduate school professor and author of both fiction and nonfiction


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