When the targets of criticism are Jewish
He has seen more of a fight to bring racial justice than do Trump’s bidding
In “The Last Temptation of Michael Cohen” (Ideas, March 3), S.I. Rosenbaum perceptively describes how white Jewish people can benefit from white supremacy even as they are harmed by anti-Semitism, but she inexplicably claims that “a shocking number of Jews” are white supremacy’s willing collaborators. My experience as a Jewish civil rights lawyer suggests otherwise.
I know numerous Jewish people who have chosen to devote all or part of their careers to racial justice, on matters ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to criminal law reform to the Trump administration’s assault on immigrants. Although these Jewish advocates (including nonwhite Jews) might be fueled by their own experiences with bigotry, their concerns are not limited to Jewish issues. Instead, they are standing with people of color to bring more justice to America.
Rosenbaum accuses five living Jewish people — five! — of advancing the Trump administration’s bigotry. Like Rosenbaum, I wish that number were zero. But in my experience, far from collaborating with white supremacy, a remarkable number of Jewish advocates are working to dismantle it.
As a person of Jewish background, I was puzzled by the letters on March 6 (“Michael Cohen and the Jewish identity issue”) accusing S.I. Rosenbaum of smearing all Jews in last Sunday’s Ideas piece, “The Last Temptation of Michael Cohen.”
My takeaway from the column was that it was Jews like Cohen who were enabling racists like Donald Trump, not that Jews as a group were working behind the scenes manipulating and controlling the white supremacist infrastructure.
If Jews can’t criticize other Jews (and if non-Jews are labeled anti-Semites when they do), how can they ever be called to account?