The CJC Reflects on American Judaism in the Era of the Trump Presidency


On September 3rd, the Center for Jewish Civilization (CJC) had its first event of the year. The discussion between CJC Professors Ira Forman, Danielle Pletka, Tamara Cofman Wittes and Jacques Berlinerblau was centered on remarks made by President Donald J. Trump about loyal and disloyal Jewish Americans. Trump’s comments triggered anger and denunciations from a broad spectrum of American voices. Crucially, they are triangulated against two salient features of his presidency. First, his tight embrace of the Netenyahu administration, and second, the disturbing rise of white supremacist violence directed against Jews and others in the United States. Center for Jewish Civilization Director Berlinerblau interviewed the three thought leaders, each of whom share extensive knowledge on issues pertaining to the Middle East and American politics. 

Notable Moments

A round-up of notable moments during the event can be found on the CJC’s Twitter account, which includes live tweets published during the event. Follow the hashtag #LoyalDisloyal! Below is a list of standout quotes from the event:

  • “The rise in antisemitic hate crimes, violent and nonviolent, is part of a context in our political discourse which has become corrosive to the bonds that hold us together. What’s happening to make Jewish Americans less secure is happening to America.” – Tamara Cofman Wittes
  • “The Jews are separate from Israel and the Middle East. As much as President Trump seems confused about this, that is 100 percent the truth.” – Danielle Pletka 
  • “With all our problems of antisemitism here, we are the safest Jewish community in the world… Our levels of violence are very low, but that can change. And it’s already had an impact on the psychology of the Jewish community in the United States.” – Ira Forman 

“Loyal/Disloyal?” in the Media

A recap of our event could be found in The Hoya:

Missed the event AND C-Span’s broadcasting of the event? Have no fear! A recording of the event can be found on C-Span’s website, linked here.

About the Speakers

Professor Jacques Berlinerblau is currently the Rabbi Harold White Professor and Director of the Center for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Berlinerblau has published on a wide variety of issues ranging from the composition of the Hebrew Bible, to the sociology of heresy, to modern Jewish intellectuals, to African-American and Jewish-American relations.

Professor Ira Forman is currently the Visiting Professor of Contemporary Antisemitism at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Jewish Civilization. He also serves as the Senior Advisor for Combatting Antisemitism at Human Rights First and a Senior Fellow at the Moment Institute. Formerly, Mr. Forman was the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. Department of State.

Professor Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she oversees the institution’s work on foreign and defense issues. Ms. Pletka writes regularly on national security matters, with a special focus on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.

Professor Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution. Wittes served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from November of 2009 to January 2012, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East during the Arab uprisings. Wittes also oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative and served as deputy special coordinator for Middle East transitions.