Last week, a group of leaders of Jewish organizations decided to express their indignation by pulling out of an annual pre-High Holy Days conference call with the president. Meanwhile, a number of Jewish pundits have attacked Jewish members of the Trump administration for not voicing outrage over the president’s remarks following the demonstrations and car-ramming attack in Charlottesville. Seth Mandel responds:
[The] columnist Dana Milbank took aim at a trio of Jews serving Trump: the president’s top economic adviser, his treasury secretary, and his son-in-law. [He claims] they’re playing the role of “court Jews” [in pre-modern Europe]. The court Jew, he explains [somewhat inaccurately], “existed to please the king, to placate the king, to loan money to the king,” and “his loyalty was to the king,” not his co-religionists.
So, to Milbank, Trump’s treasury secretary is a greedy, power-hungry money lender and a traitor to his people. I liked the column better in the original German. In fairness, Milbank wasn’t even the first . . . to use this term about Jews insufficiently [opposed to] Trump. . . .
It should be clear why all this is wrong. First, the rabbis dropping their High Holy Days call with the president: these days are about atonement, forgiveness, humility, grace, and the willingness to talk to those who have wronged you. These rabbis will, during the coming High Holy Days, stand before their congregations and preach those values—clearly with no intent to practice them.
Second, calling Jewish government employees “court Jews” for not quitting their jobs . . . or publicly trashing their boss is silly. . . . During the fight over the Iran nuclear deal, the New York Times editorial board insinuated that opponents of the deal were more loyal to Israel than to the United States, and a month later put up a vote tracker on the Times website that highlighted—in yellow!—how the Jewish members of Congress were planning to vote. How, [by the logic of those calling on high-ranking administration officials to resign or vocally to denounce the president], could [the staff] of the Times have stayed silent, especially given the ugly history of the dual-loyalty charge against Jews?