Sometimes history refuses to properly scan its records and select a period in its files to use once more. The adage that history repeats itself may be a credible observation, but it seems we are presently living through a period that is unique, innovative, and just plain new.
Our impulse to draw immediate conclusions is wrong and even fraught with danger. The industry of politics has become a hazardous minefield that requires navigating one’s way gingerly and with great caution and even apprehension.
It is no secret, as I was not trying to hide it, that I supported and still support the reelection of President Trump as being in the best interest of the future of this country and the world. Let’s not rehash the vitriolic and at times extremely immature elongated campaigns we were forced to witness emanating from both political camps.
From the standpoint of the global image of the United States it was fundamentally disconcerting and embarrassing. Don’t you think we should have been able to do better than that? That criticism is valid about both the Trump and the Biden campaigns. My goodness, is that who we are? Is that the best we can do? Now I know why so many times over the last few months Mr. Biden was forced to say, “Come on, man.”
But now is the time to move forward, as our framers and founders of this constitutional entity had the wisdom to give us ample time to sort things out, no matter how tangled and confusing they may be, in order for our elections to genuinely be an expression and the will of “We, the people.”
It is too early to state conclusively. Many of the margins of Biden’s victory are miniscule at this point in time, as these words are being written almost one week after the election. Key electoral states — specifically Pennsylvania and Arizona — have been tentatively awarded to Mr. Biden with a fraction of 1%, with reportedly 99% of the ballots counted in the state.
It is important, to remember that each state sets its own rules for recounts as they do for balloting in general. According to the Associated Press, out of 31 state recounts from 2001 to 2010, only three had any bearing on the outcome.
We should keep in mind that the only sources proclaiming that Joe Biden is the next president are media such as the Associated Press and Fox News. In the past, when margins between candidates were at least ample enough for media to make these calls regardless of what the final numbers would ultimately be, it was sufficient to accept these conclusions as fact. That is not the case now. Maybe it will be later, after all is official, but no matter how much we want this behind us, this is not the time.
If you read on, you are not going to see the words “stole the election” or “fraudulent” or anything suggesting any kind of deviousness having taken place. There is a proper system that can sort out all the details and a legal system all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court that can deliver us a proper election result if we need to go that far. If they determine there were illegalities in the process and that significant numbers of votes should by law be discounted and disqualified, then we can begin to flirt with the idea of an attempt to steal our election. Now we wait and allow the process to take its course.
In Jewish life there is a tug-of-war taking place on the matter of how to proceed in light of these new developments. If our organizations and leadership choose to remain on the sidelines while the election is battled out in court and Biden does prevail, we run the risk of incurring some ire from the potential new administration.
At the same time, a number of our leaders jumped at the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, even as the conclusion of this process is unclear as can be. Their calculation is that Donald Trump will not prevail and will not be serving four more years in the White House. But if Trump does have a chance of being declared the winner in a legal and proper way, it’s quite a dilemma to be among the first to reach out to Biden-Harris after they have been declared the victors by CNN and The New York Times.
Someone is advising that this is the most prudent way to proceed. Can it be that when it comes to issues pertaining to Israel and Jewish life, the Democrats today are perceived as much more difficult and complicated to deal with once they sense that you are not really with them and their agenda?
In terms of Jewish leadership and a relationship with Joe Biden, there may be no one else in the Jewish world who is closer to the former vice president than Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The Conference in many ways is the nucleus of Jewish communal life. The group, composed of some 55 American Jewish organizations, works to develop a consensus on issues that can hopefully be representative of American Jewish thought and positions on Israel and other issues of the day.
“I was introduced to then-Senator Biden by Zev Wolfson, one of the greatest political activists and philanthropists in modern Jewish times,” Hoenlein said as we talked on Sunday night. “Zev said to me in about 1978 that I just have to meet this young senator who was just reelected to a second term representing Delaware,” Mr. Hoenlein says. He adds that he and Mr. Biden developed a very good rapport and that he appreciated Biden’s very helpful positions on Israel, especially during later years when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Years later, when Biden was vice president and there were sometimes contentious and disagreeable exchanges with President Obama on Israel policy, Malcolm says that there were more than a few times when the vice president did not agree with Mr. Obama on policy.
On the matter of whether it was premature for the heads of Jewish organizations to be calling to congratulate Mr. Biden on his election when the election is not official, Hoenlein says it is the proper way to proceed so that these leaders are not isolated by exception — meaning, that it is in the community’s best interest to make the call. He says that these types of calls — whether from Prime Minister Netanyahu or any other leader at any level — do not solidify Biden’s hold on the presidency. That will be decided by the law and certified by Congress at the proper time.
My Sunday-evening conversation with Malcolm Hoenlein then veered into the direction of a personal matter that brought the Biden and Hoenlein family together. Malcolm’s son-in-law, Sander Bak, passed away after battling brain cancer around the same time that the Bidens lost their son Beau to the same illness. They both passed away in 2015 during the time that Mr. Biden was still vice president to Barack Obama.
The discussion between Biden and Hoenlein naturally drew them close to one another on a personal level. They compared notes, so to speak, and commiserated with one another on the experience of suffering this type of loss. Mr. Biden’s wife and another child lost their lives in an automobile accident in the early 1970s.
We moved in the direction of discussing this matter because I mentioned that Mr. Biden is being painted into a corner of supporting policies and laws like the Iran nuclear deal that is a potential danger to Israel if it is revitalized. Hoenlein is concerned about matters like the Iran deal and the possible new administration’s policy on Israel. But he is also confident that should Biden assume the presidency he will continue to be a strong supporter of Israel.
Malcolm points out that Biden insisted in this year’s Democratic platform that the term “occupied territories” not be used when referencing Israel’s policies on Judea and Samaria. So while Biden will not be supporting annexation of the territories, he will not succumb to pressure from the left to resume vilifying Israel, as was done by Mr. Obama.
Now after the election, the next phase of the campaign for the presidency resumes on a level we are not accustomed to, as it rarely happens. The mainstream media — even Fox News and the New York Post — have rushed to declare Joe Biden the winner. It is a rush to judgment that needs to be recalibrated. Let’s take a breath, slow down, and give the courts, the Justice Department, and, if need be, the Supreme Court an opportunity to determine who will be our next president. If the Biden people are so confident of ultimate victory, then why are they so concerned about allowing the legal process to play out and run its course?
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