Last week, only days after the deadly attack at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, Congress approved a massive increase to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which will reach $90 million in 2020, compared to the $60 million allocated in 2019.
With a single stroke of his presidential sharpie, Donald Trump sent the entire Jewish world into a frenzy, debating whether America’s 45th president had just changed the definition of Judaism in America from a religion to a nationality or race. He did not. The executive order Trump had signed on Wednesday includes nothing to indicate such a shift. The only change that could result from Trump’s executive order, which adopted a broader definition of anti-Semitism, is an easier time for those wishing to go after colleges for creating a hostile environment for pro-Israel students.
The Israeli ex-pat community makes up anywhere from 300,000 to 800,000 members. Most are concentrated in New York and Los Angeles, rendering them useless in terms of electoral strategy. So why bother with this tiny sliver of a constituency?
Whether these other conversations, about his celebrity look-a-like and Jewish roots, eclipsed the impeachment conversation probably depends on which Twitter world one inhabits—the one that shows up for the news or the one that shows up solely for the memes.
With just under a year to go, Trump, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would really like to fit in another one or two major moves—a grand peace plan, greenlighting Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley or the signing of a mutual defense treaty between the two countries.
Orthodox Jews are Trump’s strongest—and only—reliable support base within the Jewish community. Polling shows that more than half of those identifying as Orthodox voted for Trump in 2016. The president also enjoys strong approval ratings within the Orthodox community since taking office. This unlikely political alliance, between a segment of the population focused on family values and religious insularity and the flamboyant New York businessman-turned-politician, has many explanations:
The university context is special, because students have a status that allows the university to regulate them qua students—which is very different from the relationship between a citizen and the state.
Not only does the university not have the right, or the power, to educate students in what it thinks is civil or not civil; doing so is contrary to the goal of a liberal arts education.
J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby, wrapped up its three-day conference in Washington, DC last week. In an email to supporters summing up the meeting (and making a pitch for donations), the group’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami announced, “We’ve changed the conversation” about Israel, noting that the conference brought the issue of Israel to the Democratic presidential race agenda and that candidates have discussed, among other issues, their plans to “employ U.S. leverage to combat settlement expansion.” Or, in other words, J Street made using American foreign aid to Israel into an issue Democrats are willing to fight for.