As Torah Jews, we understand the concept of absolute truth. Hashem is emes, total and absolute truth. After that, though, it seems that it is slim pickings. In other words, the truth about the truth is that it is hard to find and difficult to come by. That is pretty sad for people who want to, or at least say they want to, seek the truth.
Truth in the political realm has always been cagey and tough to discover. It is not that political operatives or elected officials actually tell straight-faced lies (though some do); more often than not, it is a matter of a different or perhaps distorted brand of truth that they merchandise.
Let’s use CNN’s Jim Acosta as an example. He is the network’s White House reporter who likes to bang heads with the president. Acosta is glib and his delivery well-practiced. His objective, time and again, is to catch Mr. Trump off-guard, to reveal a conflict between what the president said six weeks or six months ago and something that he said the other day.
Last Friday, when the president declared a national emergency at our southern border, Acosta challenged the president at the White House announcement, suggesting that there is no crisis at the border and that Mr. Trump is fabricating the crisis so that he can fulfill one of his signature campaign promises.
The president was not at his best, but he managed to deliver an effective message to the CNN reporter in his own personalized, bumbling way. He told Acosta that his comment was not really a question, but rather a political statement, and then resorted to his usual but accurate refrain — that Acosta and CNN are fake news.
In Israel, there are no greater merchants of lies and deception than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and everyone else in the PA. Nothing these folks do is honest, and nothing that they say is true. What a way to run what they believe is a country, or at least their own imaginary piece of a possible future state.
That is probably why the Trump peace plan, or the “grand deal,” as it is known, is a safe gamble for Israel at this juncture. First of all, let’s say that considering how things are going these days, there is absolutely no peace plan needed. Israel and her Arab neighbors, along with the Gulf States, can sail along smoothly without dealing with the so-called multi-decade Palestinian issue. Even Gulf leaders have begun stating publicly that the issue of a Palestinian state is not a priority.
This week, Israel has finally decided to withhold more than $100 million from the Palestinians who are utilizing similar sums to reward and support the families of those in prison who committed terrorist acts. For many of these Arab prisoners, the amount they and their families receive is commensurate with the number of Jews they murdered or injured.
There are few things as dishonest as that kind of a policy. You can twist and turn it, but it is still paying people to kill. However, Abbas and some others do not see the matter that way. They feel they are fighting for statehood and that the murder of Israelis by their people is a reaction to their quest for independence. While that is a corrupt policy that should be shunned and condemned internationally, the sad reality is that there are those around the world who agree that there is an acceptable, or at least a minimally understandable, rationale to these murders and the desire to support their families.
Then there is the matter of Prime Minster Netanyahu’s comments in Poland about Polish complicity in the slaughter by the Nazis of six million Jews. In Warsaw last week at a conference on the Middle East, the prime minister made a comment to the media about the reality of the Polish people’s complicity with the Nazis during the Holocaust.
That expression did not sit well with Polish leaders, as they apparently feel that they have been making progress in manufacturing a new brand of truth that historically distances them from the fact that, during World War II, three million Jews were systematically murdered inside Poland.
Modern Polish leaders have adapted a stance that says that just like the Jews were victimized by the Nazis, so were the people of Poland. They say that Netanyahu’s comments were further exacerbated by the words of Israel’s new foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, who followed up Bibi’s comment with: “The memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about; it is something clear, and we won’t forget or forgive. Poles collaborated with the Nazis, and as Yitzhak Shamir, whose father was murdered by Poles, said, ‘They suckle antisemitism with their mother’s milk.’”
Last year, the Polish parliament passed into law a regulation that made it illegal to utter the words “Polish death camps,” making it a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.
While that is a classic attempt at revising history, it clashes very dramatically with the truth as witnessed by thousands of survivors around the world. Polish leadership has very little to support their assertion of non-complicity with the Nazis. All they have on their side is the passage of time, and it does not look like that is working out so well for them.
So now Poland has pulled out of the Visegrad Conference, which was to take place this week in Jerusalem. The conference participants originally included the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The annual meetings usually focus on how these countries can cooperate with one another militarily, culturally, and economically. Needless to say, Israel has the ability to assist these countries substantively along these lines.
If Polish participation requires rearranging the truth and plainly distorting the Polish involvement in the Holocaust, then obviously this is not worth anyone’s effort. Unfortunately, as you can see from these and other situations playing themselves out today, there is not much truth that can pass for truth today. There is a lot of this going on today on many levels; the Polish revisionism is just one of the most glaring of all of today’s lies bandied about as truth.
Eric Ulrich for NYC Public Advocate
Republican City Councilmember Eric Ulrich of Queens is running for New York City public advocate in a special election to be held on February 26. Some independent polls indicate that Mr. Ulrich has a great chance to win this race mainly because there are 17 candidates on the ballot that includes 16 Democrats and Mr. Ulrich, the Republican.
The turnout at the polls next Tuesday is expected to be exceptionally low. What that means to a candidate like Ulrich is that voters in Orthodox Jewish communities in the five boroughs can mean the difference between victory and defeat for the Republican. That means voters going out to the polls in force in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, and other parts of Queens can make a difference.
Ulrich is one of only three Republicans in the 51-member New York City Council. If he is successful in next week’s election, he will be the leading Republican office holder in a city that sometimes seems closed politically to Republicans. As public advocate, Ulrich says he will function as a counterweight to Mayor Bill de Blasio and what he refers to as the mayor’s socialist agenda.
Right now, Ulrich is pulling 22 percent and is in the top position in the latest poll. His closest competitors are Councilman Jumaane Williams and former City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito. They are followed by 14 additional candidates who will be on next week’s ballot.
Ulrich is a great friend of the Jewish community in New York, a defender of aid for yeshivas, and steadfast against the intrusion of state government in yeshiva curriculum and other policies. As a Queens councilman, he was an ardent supporter of Amazon moving into Long Island City and bemoans the way city Democrats chased the company away, denying 25,000 paying jobs with the company.
Ulrich says he supports President Trump. He disagrees with the president about some things, but he feels Mr. Trump is doing an excellent job on Israel and trade policy.
If you reside in one of New York City’s five boroughs, you owe it to the future of the city to go out and vote for Eric Ulrich for public advocate on Tuesday, February 26.