President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on March 25. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Opinion writer

The past couple of weeks have been somewhat nauseating, if not agonizing, for many American Jews. They saw President Trump — who violates most every political and moral tenet the overwhelmingly Democratic Jewish American community holds dear — boss around the Israeli prime minister so Trump could pursue his culture war against everyone outside his evangelical base. (Hating everyone else is what makes Trump attractive to many if not most of his staunchest followers.) American Jews also saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reverse himself by barring entry to two U.S. congresswomen in an act of grave disrespect to Congress and to the democratic principles that many American Jews regard as the foundation of the U.S.-Israel relationship. They then watched Trump issue the most inflammatory, anti-Semitic comments most of us have heard in our lifetimes — and observed that neither Netanyahu nor evangelical Zionists said boo.

American Jews were left entirely on their own — attacked by the president as Netanyahu and evangelicals remained silent. American Jews didn’t sign up to be a football kicked around by Trump and abandoned by the Israeli prime minister and supposed allies in the evangelical community. But it’s time to wake up: None of these people much care about the American Jewish community, in case it had not been obvious.

Let’s start with Netanyahu. Daniel Gordis, an author, scholar, U.S. citizen and a longtime resident of Israel, explains: “On the domestic front, Benjamin Netanyahu operates according to two inviolable principles. He will do or say whatever he needs to do to get reelected, and he will do whatever he needs to do — no matter what the damage to Israel’s judiciary or press — to ensure that he is not indicted.” On foreign policy, the prime minister’s sole concerns are Iran and keeping Trump happy. As to the latter, Netanyahu "will do or say whatever he has to do in order not to arouse the ire of a president who is wholly uneducated about the region, entirely un-strategic, unpredictable, narcissistic and vindictive. Israel, [Netanyahu] understands, cannot afford to be on Trump’s bad side, and there are therefore no depths to which he will not stoop in order to remain in the president’s good graces.”

However, Netanyahu has foolishly assumed that, in the absence of his groveling, Trump would be free to whack Israel. Wrong. His presidency depends on evangelical Christians, and evangelicals dearly care about Israel (though not much about American Jewry, we are reminded.) Netanyahu oversteered, if you will, veering so far to Trump’s side that he has endangered the bipartisan U.S. support that Israel depends upon and without regard to the very real possibility Trump will lose in 2020. As Gordis pointed out, it is all short-term calculation for Netanyahu, who must get himself reelected to potentially keep out of jail, and then worry about the rest later. In Netanyahu’s mind, the survival of Israel and his political survival are one in the same. (Does that remind you of anyone?)

The Los Angeles Times reports that queasiness over Netanyahu’s behavior is prevalent in Israel, as well, where the U.S.-Israel relationship (but not necessarily Netanyahu’s survival) is paramount. (“Israelis find themselves rattled by an existential concern: What if President Trump’s tumultuous style of diplomacy has revealed that a cornerstone of their national identity is slipping away?”) The report continues:

Former minister and Likud Party elder Dan Meridor said he only “hopes the Israeli-American relationship will recover from the very serious mistakes being made right now.”

In an interview with The Times, he said Netanyahu’s decision was “an error in every possible way.”

By failing to “stand up to our friends in the Trump administration,” Meridor said, the prime minister caused substantial harm to Israel’s image.

But kowtowing to Trump might help Netanyahu keep power and keep Trump happy, which are the prime minister’s key priorities.

Then there are the evangelical Zionists who have enjoyed an uneasy relationship with American Jewry. Both groups care about Israel, yet differ greatly on everything from Trump to President Barack Obama to social policy to the two-state solution. At best, it has been a tactical alliance, as in the unsuccessful effort by evangelicals and major Jewish organizations to block the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump is now pulling that alliance apart, with blatant appeals to evangelicals — including using anti-Semitic tropes. Love the Jewish state, hate the Jews, I suppose. It is causing many Jews and other Americans to look again at some quadrants of the evangelical community; when you kick over a few rocks, you see what’s growing.

The Post’s report on the topic begins with an evangelical woman who is convinced that Trump "is surrounded by a Zionist environment with completely different values from Christians. It’s kabbalist. It’s Talmudic values. Not the word of God.” The report continues:

In other words: It’s the Jews’ fault.

“Why do we have pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ values, and we do not have more freedom to protect our faith? We are persecuted now,” [evangelical Luba] Yanko says about evangelical Christians like herself. “[Jews] say, ‘We’ve got America. We control America.’ That’s what I know.”

It’s an anti-Semitic viewpoint shared by a number of evangelical Christians across the country. The relationship between Christians and Jews has been fraught for almost 2,000 years since the death of Jesus. Today, with a president who levels accusations about Jews and who encourages his fans to mistrust the mainstream media, a growing number of evangelicals are turning to the Internet for information and finding anti-Jewish beliefs there.

Evangelical leaders are in the front row in the Trump cult, and that means sharing an enemies’ list that includes the media elite, globalism, big cities, immigrants and any perceived threat to defining the United States as a white, Christian nation. It has all the ingredients for a nasty anti-Semitic stew:

Pastors are aware of the conspiracy theories floating among their congregants, including a small number of virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic beliefs that some Christians interviewed by The Washington Post this summer professed. . . .

And politically, evangelicals find themselves sharing common cause with right-wing anti-Semites. They might have little else in common, but both groups are enthusiastic supporters of Trump. And Trump, who strives to court that evangelical fandom, has flirted with anti-Semitism before this week. During his campaign, he retweeted and defended an image from a white supremacist website, showing Hillary Clinton’s face over a pile of money and a six-pointed Jewish star. He famously said that the demonstrators who chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville included “very fine people.”

Experts point out that it is not only possible but is unsurprising that someone in the right-wing, pro-Trump evangelical world could be “vaguely or even strongly anti-Semitic but also pro-Israel.” To be absolutely clear, not all or even most evangelicals are anti-Semitic, but some are, Trump encourages it and their leadership is too often indifferent to anti-Semitism.

American Jews got a wake-up call, to be sure. Netanyahu is not “their” prime minister as Trump has claimed. The evangelical community is not a reliable friend. What to do?

Well, when in doubt, let’s go to the Jewish sage Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” That means putting aside parochial and political differences to denounce as one community anti-Semitism (as has happened this week), defending and voting Jewish values (which are protected in the United States by the rule of law, a free press, equality under the law, etc.), and speaking up for strong, bipartisan support for the mutually-beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship, which must be based on shared democratic values. And don’t give the job to anyone else.

Read more:

Dana Milbank: Trump claims he’s the messiah. Maybe he should quit while he’s ahead.

Michael Gerson: The Trump presidency is not just unfolding, it is unraveling

The Post’s View: Barring two U.S. lawmakers from Israel is un-Israeli. Trump’s cheering for it is un-American.

Talia Lavin: Trump sees all U.S. Jews as Israelis because his Christian Zionist allies do, too