The Dilemma of Jewish Privilege

Joshua Ladon writes at newrepublic.com about Jewish privilege, anti-Semitism on the left, and Jewish racism:

I am visibly Jewish. I wear a yarmulke; I have a beard. My tzitzit—ritual fringes—occasionally sneak out from under my shirt. I speak Hebrew-inflected English with my wife and children, all of whom have non-English names. I am an easy mark for anti-Semites. As a descendant of those who fled the Russian Pale of Settlement in the 1890s, I am also visibly Caucasian. With a cap, I look like many bearded white hipster dads in the San Francisco Bay area.

All of this is to say that I appear both white and “other” at the same time. I carry with me privilege constructed by the peculiarities of American history, the great possibilities provided for my people in 20th-century America, while also carrying the millennium-old consciousness of marginalization. I could easily hide my Jewishness, but choose not to, as a result visibly presenting my Jewishness while also enjoying the benefits of white privilege. When someone I do not know points out my identity, even simply by calling out, “Shalom,” I immediately tighten up. Will this be another encounter in which I am publicly harassed or screamed at? Last year, a car slowed down and a passenger yelled, “Fuck you, Jew!” Even when the person simply wants to extend an open hand, public attention toward my minority identity brings risk and baggage.

Unlike Ladon, I present as non-Jewish by default. I don’t look or act Jewish. But what he writes is true of me as well. Being Jewish in Trump’s America is being white and non-white — at the same time.

Anti-Semites on the left want to hold all Jews responsible for Israel’s sins.

Why do you (still) have to sign so many credit card receipts? [Rachel Sugar/Vox]

Merchants are finally phasing out signature requirements for transactions, though the US is moving more slowly on it. “We just love signing things here; after football, it is our national pastime.”

Interesting information: The Talmud requires signatures for contracts — as important as marriage, or as minor as buying a cup of coffee. Does this mean religious Jews will no longer be able to use credit cards? Can religious Jews now use Apple Pay and the Android equivalent?

Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? [NYTimes]

Donald Trump’s apparent coziness with anti-Semites is difficult to reconcile with Jared and Ivanka Trump. Jared is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, and Ivanka converted to Judaism to marry him. They’re not just Jews – they’re Orthodox Jews, who observe the Sabbath every Saturday. And they are also, seemingly, the only people Donald Trump fully and completely trusts, both in business and personally.

I don’t think Donald Trump is himself racist. He doesn’t believe in anything but Donald Trump. I’m reminded of John Goodman’s line in the Big Lebowski: Nazis were awful people, but at least they stood for something. Donald Trump stands for and believes in nothing but Donald Trump.

But Trump’s core, most loyal supporters are racists, and Trump knows it.