Why Daniel Gordis Is Dead Wrong on Donald Trump and the Jews
JNS.org — Whether Jews concerned about Israel agree with Daniel Gordis, they generally not only read what he has to say, but discuss his articles for days after they appear.
Such is the case where the conservative rabbi’s latest piece — about Donald Trump’s election victory — is concerned. But this one is less an example of Gordis’s usual scholarly insight and moderation than it is like a page from Lamentations, in which he reminds us of his love for Israel and the “danger” that a Trump victory brings to the world’s two largest Jewish communities.
Strange. Living in America, I viewed the Trump victory as opening a new and glorious era for American Jews, even though most are too wedded to their Democratic Party identification to comprehend what the Obama administration has meant for our community.
For the last eight years, Barack Obama — who allegedly slept at the feet of the antisemitic and anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright, listening to his messages of black liberation theology — has refused to have Title VI enforced by his administration on behalf of Jewish students. This has meant that while the obscenities of racism and various forms of bigotry are virulently attacked on college campuses with the full weight and power of the federal government, antisemitism is not. In fact, as Paul Miller has documented, antisemitism on college campuses has become a growth industry. And wherever there is faculty support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, anti-Jewish incidents are four times more likely to occur, according to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of the AMCHA Initiative.
There are numerous reasons for this, and the Obama administration’s refusal to implement Title VI to defend Jewish students against hatred is one of them. In sharp contrast, the Trump administration has announced its intention to consider BDS an act of antisemitism and to use the full power of the federal government to fight it on campus.
So, for those liberal rabbis who share Gordis’s concerns about the Trump presidency and are busy sitting shiva (the Jewish seven-day mourning ritual) with their congregants while serving warm cocoa and borrowing helper puppies from the local humane society for comfort, I want to know: Where were you when antisemitism was flourishing on our campuses, when Jewish students were being humiliated in class for their Zionism, when thugs of the radical Muslim persuasion and their leftist allies — with school administration complicity — were preventing them from attending classes? I’d ask the same questions of our Jewish defense organizations and most campus Hillels, but regrettably most of us who study these issues know the answers already.
Gordis is unconcerned with these matters, but he is disturbed by what he sees as the rise of antisemitism, not its thuggish manifestation on college campuses, but that of the KKK having a victory march in North Carolina. No, what troubles Gordis isn’t the well-funded student associations that have made college life a living hell for some Jews, but rather the rise of the KKK.
Perhaps, living in Israel, Gordis is unaware that the North Carolina KKK — at the most generous estimate — numbers 200 members. North Carolina has more than 10 million people, and the Klan has two-thousandths of a percent of that number in its ranks. Trump can no more control (nor should he) who celebrates his victory than Hillary Clinton can control all those sheikhdoms that prayed fervently for hers — although she surely could have controlled the investments they made in her foundation. What expectations did all those sheikhs have for the millions they poured into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation? Was it better respect for girls and women as human beings and not as sex objects? No doubt.
Suddenly, Gordis has discovered that America’s Jewish future is at stake. I thought America’s Jewish future was at stake when Title VI was not being used to protect Jewish students. I thought America’s Jewish future was at stake when the antisemitic, cop-hating Black Lives Matter movement was invited to the White House. I thought America’s Jewish future was at stake when Hillary Clinton would be called upon to pay off all those investments made by sheikhdoms living in the Middle Ages.
If Gordis is going to read from Lamentations on his forthcoming tour, he will find eager paranoid Jews who share his myopic read of America, and think that the Obama administration was the golden age of tolerance for the Jewish community. He will find welcoming audiences at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club and almost anywhere on the Upper East (and West) Side of Manhattan.
But as far as those of us who are first and foremost Americans are concerned, Donald Trump is our president-elect — get over it. While Gordis is contemplating what to say to those in the Jewish community who remain in mourning, he should also give due consideration to unpacking his suitcase. He has nothing new to add except to aggravate their misery. His time might be better spent sitting across the table from the Palestinian Authority’s expired-term president, Mahmoud Abbas, giving him a pencil and paper and asking him to draw the boundaries of an acceptable Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one. Now that should keep him engaged for some time, if not for eternity.
Abraham H. Miller is a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center news and public policy group and an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. Follow him on Twitter: @salomoncenter.