Another four years of Trump certain to worsen divide in US, stir regional conflicts


The massacre of 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the most deadly anti-Jewish act in US history, is bad news for this region as well as for the unity and stability of the US. This shooting is bad news for Palestinians and the Arabs because Jewish citizens of the US now feel vulnerable to attack from anti-Jewish compatriots and even those Jews who are not Zionists may look to Israel as a place of safety. They may pour money into Israel, including illegal housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, or encourage their children to visit Israel on its “Birthright” programme to investigate possibilities for emigration.

As the Zionist movement has always intended that Israel would be a bolt hole for persecuted Jews, even anti-Zionist Jews may come to think this is correct. The Palestinian and Arab dream of a Palestinian state, already fast fading, will become an impossibility because of the determination of Israelis and diaspora Zionists to hold onto all occupied Palestinian territory. Following recent violence against French Jews, there has been an uptick of migration to Israel by members of that community.

Israel’s founding father Theodor Herzl, a highly educated Hungarian Jew, argued that a Jewish state would attract Jewish immigrants, diminishing their numbers in areas where anti-Jewish feeling (anti-Semitism) persisted and thereby reducing anti-Jewish attitudes.
On October 27, a clearly unhinged truck driver called Robert Bowers, 46, committed this hate crime after Tweeting a warning of his intention. He stormed into the synagogue armed with a semi-automatic rifle and three pistols and shot down members of the congregation during the Saturday morning (Shabat) service.

US President Donald Trump said this would not have happened if the synagogue had an armed guard, but Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto took the opposite view. He called for taking guns out of the hands of “those looking to express hatred through murder”.
Bowers took to posting on a far-right social media site called “Gab” which provided opportunities for racists to vent their hatreds. Bowers compared Jews to Satan and argued that Trump’s “Make America Great Again” pledge was impossible as long as Jews “infest” the US. He ranted against African Americans, Hispanics and called for executing “Marxist degenerates.” He uploaded material claiming the US government is controlled by Zionists and dismissed Trump as a “globalist” rather than a “nationalist”.

Bower was incensed by a charitable organisation called the Hebrew Immigrant Society (HIAS) which was originally founded in 1881 to help Jews fleeing Russia and eastern Europe to settle in the US. The HIAS has shifted its focus to aid people from around the globe, including from Latin American and Muslim countries. Bowers believed these immigrants, whom he called “hostile invaders”, threatened white US citizens. The agency placed 233 refugees in the Pittsburgh region in 2017 and 122 in 2017 and 42 this year, in spite of Trump’s dramatic cut to 30,000 the number of refugees and migrants allowed to settle in the US.

Bower’s attack was the third in recent years by a white supremacist on a house of worship. In 2015, nine African Americans were killed in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by Dylann Roof. In Southern Springs, Texas, 26 were slain in a church by Devin Patrick Kelley.

Last week, Gregory Bush sought to enter another black church in Louisville, Kentucky, but when he found the door locked, he went to a grocery store and shot two black shoppers dead. A second disturbed white man sent pipe bombs to Trump critics former president Barack Obama, ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton and actor Robert De Niro.

One recipient of a bomb, Tom Steyer blamed Trump and the Republican Party of creating a climate of “political violence”.

Trump retaliated against him by Tweeting that Steyer, a liberal billionaire opponent, was a “crazed and stumbling lunatic”. Sounds more like Trump himself. The Republican leadership has accused “fake media” and the Democratic Party of creating the deep divisions in US society which have prompted violence by distressed white men with too many guns. Trump’s racist outbursts helped him to win the 2016 election and he is not about to abandon them, although the occupant of the White House is supposed to represent the entire “American people”.

To make matters worse, he continues to hit the campaign trail as he is determined to maintain his base of disaffected white men and women, racists and neo-Nazis in order to run for a second term in 2020. Another four years of Trump is certain to exacerbate the existing social, cultural and political divide in the US and to threaten the stability of the globe by stirring regional conflicts and tensions.

On October 26, I was visiting Ireland when voters re-elected President Michael D. Higgins, 77, to a second seven-year term. He is, in contrast with Trump, a unifier of his people, nation and homeland, a country which only does good in this conflicted world, unlike the US.

“Michael D”, as he is affectionately known, won 56 per cent of the vote. Thanks to the US electoral college. Trump assumed office as a minority president with 3 million votes less than his opponent. A graduate of both Irish and US universities, Michael D. is a socialist intellectual, a poet and life-long politician who worked constantly for the betterment of his people.

Trump is a jumped-up businessman who has made and lost millions in real estate, gambling, beauty contests and golf courses. Michael D. has the firm backing of Ireland’s young voters as well as liberals, leftists and taxi drivers. Trump counts as his base hard-right middle and lower-middle class white men and women who have been left out of the so-called “American dream”, Evangelical Christians, neo-Nazis and racists. What a difference decency makes.


A demonstrator holds a banner that reads “Making America Hate Again”, during a march against U.S. President Donald Trump and his temporary ban on refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, in London, Britain, February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

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