A fiery political storm with Jewish identity at its center erupted this past week and has yet to blow over. Interestingly, although Germany and France each recently passed laws in their national parliaments equating anti-Israel sentiments with antisemitism, it’s President Donald Trump’s executive order that has stirred up the most criticism. Aimed at combating antisemitism associated with anti-Israel movements on college campuses, it seeks to define Judaism as a nationality, and not just as a religion.
This is a multi-faceted issue that brings up several points for consideration. First, how have the Jews historically defined themselves—religiously, collectively, or both? Second, can anti-Israel always be equated with antisemitism, and where is the line drawn in order to protect freedom of speech? Finally, is it possible that a common denominator can be found between the recent antisemitic attack in Jersey City and certain anti-Israel expressions?
The question surrounding the issue of whether Judaism is merely a religion or a collective people group is ancient. It has both...
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