By Larry Gordon

Two of the most extensively reported stories recently are the government shutdown and the so-called confrontation near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., between protesters from a Kentucky high school and another group of protesters.

While both news stories were were captivating as they unfolded, as the days and hours passed, the good news was that neither of these stories had anything in common with Jews and the Jewish community either here or in Israel. Or did they?

First, on the matter of the government shutdown, for months now we have been hearing from Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that walls are not just immoral, but they simply do not do a proper job of keeping illegal immigrants out of the U.S. The core of the idea that walls are immoral stems from the fact that it impedes the free flow of people.

Back and forth we went for five weeks in a diplomatic tug of war. One side said walls work; the other side said that they do not do the job they are intended to do. One can assume that in order to keep unwanted people, such as drug traffickers or illegals traversing international borders, out of an area where they are not wanted, walls or steel barriers or whatever you want to call them, as the president says, are effective.

When Democrats such as Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer say that “walls do not work,” they mean they do not work in terms of their agendas and objectives. And the Democratic agenda is mostly about allowing millions of people into this country.

A security wall in Jerusalem.
Photo credit: James Emery

So where do Jews and Israel come into the picture? They arrive directly at the apex of the debate about whether or not walls actually work. There was the president last Friday afternoon in the Rose Garden at the White House announcing the end to the partial shutdown and once again reiterating the fact that walls do work — and work well — pointing to the fact that Israel has built a wall around Jerusalem as well as on the Israel–Egypt border, and those barriers, walls, fences, hurdles, or whatever you want to call them are keeping the bad guys out of the Jewish state.

That is exactly what the president said last Friday and several other times in the past. If you want to know if walls work and are effective, Mr. Trump and others in the administration have said, just ask the Israelis.

So, if, as the Democrats say, the construction of a wall on our southern border is immoral and Israel has a world-class wall, then is someone trying to indirectly suggest that the Israelis are immoral? If that were the case — and I did not hear anyone suggest that in any way other than through innuendo — then perhaps this line of thinking is just one more issue that connects Mr. Trump to Israel and Israel to the president.

So far, over the last several months, or since advocates for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico began referring to the success of the security barriers, walls, and fences in Israel, none have taken that critical sequential step and said that the walls in Israel are just as unfair and even immoral, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi has said about the wall that the president wants to erect.

Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that walls just work in achieving our aims and objectives. This issue is not about safety and security in our border states, but about denying the president the ability to fulfill a campaign promise that will give him a public-relations edge in the 2020 race for president as it begins to rev its engines almost two years prior to Election Day.

So walls and other type of barriers keep out people you do not want to enter into your home, some neighborhoods, communities, states, and, in this case, our country. Denying that defies the facts as they exist.

Then a week or so ago there was the matter of the high school students from Kentucky wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats who were set upon by a group of miscreants protesting nearby. This group calls themselves Black Hebrew Israelites. This is not a group that claims that they are Jews; at least most of this small and irrelevant group don’t subscribe to that thought process.

But since they were being referred to for days as Hebrews and Israelites, what do people think other than that the group has some connection to Jews? The Black Hebrew Israelites do not claim authentic Jewishness but rather that they are G-d’s chosen people, and some with the group additionally suggest that it was the Jews who stole away their so-called birthright as the chosen people.

The issue here, though, is who actually checks into these things? Unless you paid really close attention, all you heard on the barrage of constant news broadcasts was that the children were verbally assaulted by a group of Hebrew Israelites. Of course, the verbal assault against the Catholic school teenagers was vile and blistering. Among other things too racy to publish here, the Black Hebrews, as they call themselves, shouted that the kids were products of incest.

It was an insane display of extreme hostility, but nowhere was it mentioned that these people calling themselves Hebrew Israelites were neither Hebrews nor Israelites. This gives rise to the question as to whether any group can nonchalantly take any name or any label and just say that is what they are. Yes, this is who we are — the real chosen people, not to be outdone by that 4,000-year-old title rooted in scripture as claimed by the Jews.

The point here is that when a major issue dominates the news, even if it is only for a few days, somehow it seems to link to the Jewish people in the most circuitous and unusual ways.

Yes, we were just innocent bystanders in the wall debate between the president and Democratic leadership and in the faceoff between high schoolers and those calling themselves Hebrew Israelites. How do we get into these situations? Now that’s a good topic of discussion.


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