It is not a secret that Benjamin Netanyahu has aligned himself with the right wing of the Republican Party to advance his own agenda – the majority of American Jews be damned. (Bibi clearly chose sides in addressing Congress last year, ignoring our administration’s objections). It is also now estimated that, although a majority of the Jewish population in the U.S. will vote against Donald Trump, the “20%” statistic of those right wing Republican Jews who will stick by him is unnerving.
In the midst of celebrating our New Year 5777, it is incomprehensible to me how anyone, let alone those of the Jewish faith who presumably follow Jewish ethical and moral values, would support Trump, a racist, bigot, and misogynist….among other labels I’ll forgo. But this became evident with AIPAC’s misguided invitation to Trump to address their conference in the Spring. Protests sprung up, but the speech went on, and notwithstanding an apology from an AIPAC official after-the-fact, AIPAC still defends its decision to invite Trump – who reached his nomination through months of speeches containing racist remarks and hateful vitriol.
Donald Trump has had, for months, dalliances with Netanyahu and right-wing Republican Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson had pledged $100 million to Trump’s campaign, although recent reports are that he’s whittled that down to $5 million. No one knows if that has changed. The salient point here is that Adelson and his minions support Trump and all down-ballot Republicans. Adelson wanted a meeting between Don and Bibi.
With the intricacies of diplomacy, the initial meeting scheduled for last spring/summer between Trump and Netanyahu never took place, and subsequently, Netanyahu pronounced that he will not be interfering with the American elections. And that held until Sunday, September 25, a day before the first debate.
What happened? Netanyahu was in New York for the UN meetings last month. Trump wanted to see him and invited him to Trump Tower. The media reported that Netanyahu then extended an invitation for a meeting with Clinton. After all, he couldn’t look like he was interfering with our election by meeting with only one nominee. This obviously put Clinton in a corner. She didn’t need to meet with Netanyahu; they have had a very long relationship through the years and I doubt she’d be hankering for a visit with the Israeli Prime Minister a day before her debate. But, of course, she had to accept.
Trump met with Netanyahu for more than an hour. A photo of the two, of course, was taken, and details and headlines followed – promoted by both camps. Netanyahu’s office put out a release of the substance of the discussions; Trump had his surrogates tweet out policy statements which pandered to Netanyahu and his base. And other details leaked from the Trump camp (ie the best way to build a wall based on the barriers around Gaza and the West Bank, and unequivocal support for a unified Jerusalem). What happened is that Netanyahu used Trump for his own agenda – and most definitely, by doing so, interfered with our election.
American Jews have always had disagreements throughout our election history. The minority right-wing Republican Jews have argued that they must vote according to what they perceive as to “what’s good for the Jews” and/or “what’s good for Israel.”
But, my friends, this is a vastly different election and the consequences of a Trump Presidency – for America – are dire. We’re already experiencing racial divides, alt-right anti-Semitism in full view of the American public, sporadic incidents of anti-Semitic violence and outright hateful speech. I’d argue that what’s essential for ALL American Jews to understand is that “what is good for the Jews” is to oppose Trump with all our might. His essence is opposed to Jewish values. Period. Those who want to vote for “what’s good for Israel” might want to re-think that they’re voting for “what’s good for Netanyahu.” The Prime Minister has his own troubling leadership and may not even last into the early months of 2017. So, what then? Will Trump still be “good for Israel” with another leader selected by the Israeli people?
In the end, ALL Americans need to vote for who they think will be a better President for America, not for any other country or international leader. It’s as simple as that. Samuel Freedman wrote an excellent piece relative to this subject, published in Ha’aretz on October 10, 2016. It references remarks Trump made in the second debate clearly pandering to Netanyahu and the small but significant percent of Jews who will vote for him in November. Read the article here:
Do not permit Benjamin Netanyahu or any other foreign leader who interferes with our election process to influence your vote.