Wrestling with Bibi

Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion. They hate everything about Israel and they should be ashamed of themselves.

~Donald J. Trump/March 18, 2024

What precipitated Trump’s comments during an interview with his former advisor Sebastian Gorka on the latter’s podcast “America First with Sebastian Gorka?”  March 14, 2024 remarks by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.  Schumer’s offense?  According to the Associated Press:

Schumer, the first Jewish majority leader in the Senate and the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S., strongly criticized Netanyahu in a 40-minute speech Thursday morning on the Senate floor. Schumer said the prime minister has put himself in a coalition of far-right extremists and “as a result, he has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.”

This is one more indication the Trump/MAGA version of the GOP is no longer “your father’s Republican Party.”  Even far-right antisemites cannot figure out which side they are on.  In January 2023, the Anti-Defamation League with assistance from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (NORC) conducted a year-long research project to explore the roots of the increase in antisemitic rhetoric and incidents in the United States.  The project included interviews with more than 4,000 random individuals conducted in the fall of 2022.  When presented with the statement, “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America,” 39 percent responded this antisemitic trope was either mostly or somewhat true.  Fourteen months later, Donald Trump is now accusing Jewish-Americans of not being loyal enough.

Chuck Schumer does not hate Israel or Judaism.  In fact, his remarks are consistent with long-standing Jewish tradition going back to biblical times.  One would think, Trump, House Speaker Mike Johnson and their evangelical supporters who claim the Old Testament is the literal word of God (when it is convenient to do so), would be the first to come to Schumer’s defense.  I am, of course, referring to Genesis 32:25-29 in which Jacob seeks God’s blessing despite having deprived his older brother Esau of his birthright.

25 Jacob was left alone. And a figure wrestled with him until the break of dawn.
26 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained as he wrestled with him.
27 Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”
28 Said the other, “What is your name?” He replied, “Jacob.”

29 Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.”

The phrase “you have striven with beings divine” led to this biblical passage being referred to as “Jacob wrestling with God,” the central message being even a supreme being does not expect his believers to follow blindly.  One might say, this is God telling his followers, “We are not a cult.  It is okay to challenge me.  You will not be punished.  And on occasion, as did Jacob, you might even prevail.”

Not only did Jacob go unpunished, God reaffirms the commitment he originally made to Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation.  Why then would anyone believe Schumer’s questioning the policies of a mere mortal such as Bibi Netanyahu signals hatred of his religion or Israel? He is acting in accordance with one of God’s earliest directives.  If there is a compassionate God, I have no doubt he would welcome, maybe even applaud, Schumer’s efforts to question whether an Israeli government led by Bibi Netanyahu is acting in the best interest of his “children,” whether Jewish or Muslim.

The only thing missing in this narrative is Michael Buffer and his catchphrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!”

For what it’s worth.