By Larry Gordon
It is a difficult-to-dispute fact that President Trump is the most supportive-of-Israel president in modern American history. There is no one like Mr. Trump, and, interestingly, his critics would agree, albeit for a set of different reasons. Among other things, it is his unpolitical and prudential approach to matters that so irks his opponents, and, disappointingly, that is true of many in our Jewish communities.
It has been impossible to conceal that this editorial writer is supportive of the president and his policies. Perhaps it was a little surprising at first, but I did not have to look too far to find people who disagree.
Just to digress for a moment, to make the following point I have to say that this newspaper is distributed over a relatively vast area in the New York–New Jersey area, as well as in South Florida. Last week, a reader on the West Side of Manhattan called our offices to say that one person has taken it upon herself to place the paper in a more obscure location in a large Manhattan shul that has welcomed the 5TJT for years.
When confronted by this person who called us, she said she moved the paper out of the main area of the shul because she did not like our editorials and support of President Trump. We’ve contacted the administration of the shul and they are presently looking into the matter.
Which brings us to the following question: Must one agree with everything about President Trump’s policies, or even his past, in order to be supportive of his trailblazing policies that benefit Jews and the Jewish state?
The president’s Democratic opponents and critics are not objecting to Mr. Trump’s lifestyle or even many of his policies. Their positions are exclusively political and serve their craving to get back into power and win the White House for their candidate (whoever that will be) in 2020.
We have dealt with this issue in this space on previous occasions. One might think that this is a relatively simple matter. But on the contrary, it is quite complicated.
The situation is exacerbated when the president says things like, in his estimation, American Jews who do not support his policies on Israel are being “disloyal.” I don’t know if the president realized what he was saying at the time, and that is a big part of many of Mr. Trump’s problems.
I have come to believe that most people who are critical of the president seem to have an ulterior motive or alternate agenda. Their objection with the president is rarely what they say it is. A great deal of the criticism of this modern-day Maccabee, as far as Israel is concerned, is contradictory. There is no greater champion of Jews and Israel than Donald Trump. (There’s a line that will probably get that person in Manhattan to move the paper around if she read this far.)
The same people who criticize him for being too good to Israel will also say that he is the main reason for the rise in antisemitic attacks this past year. Some of his Democratic opponents will also tell you that, under Trump, the middle class is suffering financially, though unemployment statistics are the lowest they have ever been and wages continue to increase. These days, it matters not at all that criticism contradicts reality. It is as if the two can comfortably exist side-by-side.
Last week the debate shifted to Christian circles, with an accusation leveled by Christianity Today magazine editor-in-chief Mark Galli that Donald Trump is unfit to continue serving as president because he is immoral.
“The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration,” Galli wrote. “He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone … is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
“The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see,” he continued. “None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”
While support for President Trump in the evangelical Christian community was reported to be at an all-time high in April, we are seeing cracks in the foundation as 2019 ends. But the question for us remains whether it matters if you consider the president not to be of high moral character and what impact that should have on your support of his Israel policy.
In the history of the Jewish people dating back to biblical times, certain personalities seem to have been Divinely chosen though they were people we probably would not have associated ourselves with.
For example, there was Moshe Rabbeinu’s father-in-law, Yisro, who our commentators say was the most prolific idol worshipper in the history of the world. He was a high priest in Midian and dabbled in a plethora of religions and idolatry before settling on and adapting Judaism. Yisro’s advice to Moshe set the precedent for our halachic judiciary systems.
Then there is the gentile prophet Bilaam who was an adviser to Pharaoh in Egypt on the matter of how to deal with the growing Jewish population in Mitzrayim. Bilaam was retained by Balak (who, like Yisro, has a portion of the Torah that features his name) in order to undermine — through a series of curses — the entrance of the Jewish people into the land of Israel.
Bilaam’s curses of Am Yisrael emanated from him as blessings instead, and he is the only personality recorded in the Torah who openly foresees and speaks about the Messianic era and the redemption of the Jewish people.
It might be considered a long leap, but today we have Donald Trump. No, he’s not a biblical personality, but some of his positions and the policies he has enacted may indeed be of biblical proportions. I have heard distinguished rabbis speak about Mr. Trump in precisely those terms.
Without recounting the details, we have seen his political courage displayed on the matter of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and, very recently, the executive orders on battling antisemitism on campus, and so on. Like it or not, as the president sometimes says himself, he is the best thing that has happened to the United States in a long time, and it is undeniable that this is particularly true when it comes to Israel.
The president does not help himself when he issues these vague, off-the-cuff pronouncements about Jews being disloyal if they do not support him and his Israel policies. Just the other day, the president’s attorney and former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, said about himself that he is more Jewish than leftist billionaire George Soros. In the past, Rudy, it has been reported, has also commented that in his estimation he is more Jewish than many of his Jewish friends.
Hopefully, we are not going to begin a debate about who is more or less Jewish or what that means anyway, especially among non-Jews. According to people I have spoken with who were close to Mr. Trump prior to his presidency, as far as they were concerned, there was no finer or more considerate person than Trump.
During the recent series of Democratic Party presidential debates, barely a word was uttered about Mr. Trump’s Israel policy. Democrats hoping to be president someday know that as far as his Israel policy, even those who claim to dislike the president, usually for a baseless reason, cannot argue with that. He is good for Israel.
As to Jewish disloyalty or Rudy Giuliani’s supposed Jewishness, well, don’t take those words seriously. I know what they mean and you know what they mean, too. Those with an alternate agenda for the U.S. and Israel claim to be shocked by the so-called Trump criticism of Jews. If you do not like Mr. Trump’s policies on Israel, you are not being disloyal, just duplicitous and disingenuous.