In 2004 Philip Roth published one of his superb novels, “The Plot Against America.” In the book, Charles Lindbergh beats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election and turns the United States into a semi-fascist country that supports Nazi Germany, spreads anti-Semitism and tramples human rights. Eleven years after Roth’s novel came out, the plot against America seems less fictitious.
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On his way to the top, presidential candidate Donald Trump is smashing one American taboo after another, producing political electricity and accumulating political capital by demagogic attacks on migrants, Mexicans and Muslims.
The dubious real estate magnate is exploiting white America’s fear of migration, political correctness, multiculturalism and the global economy to push an abominable politics of hatred. Shamelessly and uninhibitedly he is degrading the democratic core values that have made America the superpower of freedom.
Trump wants to visit Israel soon. As a free country, Israel is open to any visitor who isn’t a felon, terrorist or Nazi. As the United States’ greatest friend, Israel receives with open arms any American citizen who wishes to visit the promised land.
But as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel cannot roll out a red carpet for an inciter against Islam who could use the visit to Jerusalem to inflame emotions, arouse spirits and stir up a war of religions. Israel must tell its unwanted guest a few clear, firm things.
About 80 percent of us, Mr. Trump, are Jews. As Jews we were victims for thousands of years of pathological xenophobia, we’ve seen where nationalist racist incitement can lead the most advanced and cultured nations in the world, we’ve known the awful feeling of the gates being locked to refugees trying to save their lives.
So we will never tolerate Lindbergh’s politics and will always identify with the America of Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Martin Luther King. We won’t open our gates or hearts to reactionary demagogues, even if they pretend to be our friends. You have been warned: The Jewish people’s national home will not accept the evil spirit you carry with you.
Around 20 percent of us, Mr. Trump, are Muslims. No other Western state has such a high rate of Muslims. Despite all the difficult challenges facing Israel in the region, the Muslim minority is an inseparable part of Israel. Arabic is an official language, Muslim religious institutions are state-run, and the sites holy to Islam are protected by the state.
Israeli Muslims have a respectable representation in the Knesset and play a huge role in the progressive economy, higher education and cultural life. Under no circumstances will we let a ratings-greedy reality star hurt their feelings. We won’t let a rabble-rouser attack their religion and beliefs.
We have enough racists who are trying to make our shared life in Israel impossible. We have no need for imported racism from Palm Beach.
We are all Israelis, Mr. Trump. As Israelis we’ve created – against all odds – a joint imperfect fabric of life. This fabric is now threatened constantly. But as Israelis of different religions, we insist on finding a way to live together.
So if you want to make a pilgrimage to the Church of the Nativity, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth, you are welcome. If you want to launch an ambitious peace plan, ahalan vesahalan, as they say in Arabic: You are most welcome.
But if you plan to advance a plot against Israel, forget it. If you intend to spark a clash of civilizations and ignite a war of civilizations, not here. Not on the tormented land of this holy land.