A Letter to the Soviet Jewish American Supporters of Donald Trump

As an immigrant Jew from the former Soviet Union, I’ve become alarmed and disturbed by how many of us, especially those who are older, have continued supporting Donald Trump in his bid for reelection. Most of us are intelligent, working as engineers, computer programmers, doctors, lawyers, and starting our own companies. Yet despite our education, we, apparently, still have not learned much. How else can a sane person explain why the majority of us support a fascist xenophobe? How else to justify our collective insanity, believing that “Trump is great for Jews”, while nothing could be further from the truth? Why have so many of us completely lost our minds?

Talk to practically any middle-aged or elderly Soviet Jew who has immigrated to the United States, and you will hear how we have survived Czarship, then Fascism, then Socialism. You will hear stories on fleeing dictators, strongmen, and secret police. Sit in on a Soviet Jewish dinner on Thanksgiving, and you will hear how we are thankful to have moved to the United States. Yet, if we truly appreciate our Freedom of Speech and of the Press, how can we still support the same man who has called the media “the enemy of the people”? How can we praise a democratic, and free election, while at the same time ignoring the fact that Trump has threatened not to accept election results if he loses, and is actively working to undermine the voting process by questioning mail-in voting? We rejoice in a system of meritocracy, becoming outraged when Democrats, such as Joe Biden, practice nepotism, then watch in silence as Trump puts his own family and political connections into relevant positions of government. We recall tales of secret police, of disappearances for saying the wrong thing, only to watch Trump call his supporters to march, armed with guns, in the streets against protesters, and to “monitor” polling locations. Trump’s positions are not representative of a healthy democracy. Rather, they reek of authoritarians, nepotism, and armed vigilante extremists — the very thing we fled the Soviet Union from.

Yet, instead of learning from history and repeating the errors of the past, too many of us have just become paranoid instead, almost as if we are still suffering from some form of post-Soviet Socialism PTSD. “If Democrats are elected, the USA will become Communist!” some of you in the elderly Russian Jewish community hysterically argue. You call Bernie Sanders a wide-eyed communist extremist, even though he wants to go no further than universal healthcare, affordable college education, and strong protections and benefits enjoyed by employees, which you would know already exist in all other first-world countries, if you had bothered discussing these with your family members in Israel, Germany, Australia, and various ex-Soviet countries. Actually, you support Socialism as well, as long as it applies only to you, but for no one else. Many of you, or your parents, or even grandparents, literally survive in this country because of “Socialism” for yourselves. Elderly Soviet Jewish immigrants get a free monthly stipend, reduced housing, Medicare, food stamps, and even a care center….all free to them, but funded by the very taxes you want to reduce for everybody else. So you’re not really against Socialism; after all, you are very pro-Socialism when it benefits you or your family. You just don’t want other Americans, who were born here and have actually worked here, to receive the same benefits as you, or your parents, or your grandparents, receive. Not only are you hypocritical, but also selfish to those Americans who are paying for the benefits of your own family, and before, have enabled you to immigrate to this country in the first place. This is how you repay them? This is how you thank them? Shame on you!

Perhaps if you were just egoistical, a vote for Trump could somewhat be understood, for your personal gain. However, a vote for Trump is inexcusable for a Jew. As Jews, we have experienced so much anti-Semitism back in the Soviet Union. We survived pogroms, the Holocaust, and post-WWII Soviet anti-Semitism. Yet now, many of you claim, with a straight face, that Trump is “good for Jews”, because he “supports Israel”, and because “Jared Kushner is Jewish”. Are you kidding me? Are you so blinded by propaganda coming from your Russian TV to see the anti-Semitism of this man? This is the same person who told a group of almost all white Christians, at a rally in Minnesota, that they “have good genes”. He has openly accused Jews who vote for Democrats (75% of American Jews) of a “great disloyalty”, claiming we should be more loyal to Israel than to the United States and claiming that Democratic Jews “don’t love Israel enough”. Are you seriously supporting for President, the man who has publicly called us “brutal killers, not nice people at all”? Will you be voting for the candidate, who, in 2016, released TV advertisements against Hillary Clinton, with “faces of powerful Jewish people” with a voiceover about us being part of a “global power structure” that has “robbed our working class” and “stripped our country of its wealth”?.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “sure, but it’s just talk. He has done so much for Israel and Jews”. To you, I say, take your blindfolds off! Look at what is happening around you! In 2017, at the “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville, there were parades of Nazis holding torches and Nazi flags, chanting “Jews will not replace us”; our Jew-loving President called them “very fine people”. In 2018, a neo-Nazi shot up the “Tree of Life” synagogue in Pittsburgh. By 2019, the Anti Defamation League (ADL) has reported “more than 2100 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, a 12 percent jump and the most in any year”. According to a poll conducted by ABC News, 9% of Americans believe that it is “acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, equivalent to about 22 million Americans”, 56% “said they had seen Nazi symbols on their social media platforms and/or in their communities”, and 49% “had seen Holocaust denial or distortion posts on social media or elsewhere online”. “According to the study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, of American millennial and Gen Z adults aged between 18 and 39, “48% could not name a single concentration camp or ghetto established during the second world war”, “23% said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, or had been exaggerated, or they weren’t sure”, and “12% said they had definitely not heard, or didn’t think they had heard, about the Holocaust.” This all happened under President Trump’s administration, where neo-Nazis and Klansmen are praised and encouraged, to take their views aganst YOU mainstream!

Mazel tov! You support an authoritarian xenophobe who endangers American democracy. Adolph Hitler was once a fringe candidate who surprisingly won a popular election, only to then seize power by becoming “chancellor”, suspending democracy, and imposing a fascist and authoritarian regime, right after his election win in 1932. Perhaps rather than worrying if “America will become Communist if Democrats win”, we should instead ask if “is it already too late from preventing Donald Trump to become an authoritarian dictator, where minorities like Jews are marginalized, or worse”?

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