Monday, May 16th | 16 Iyyar 5782

October 29, 2020 6:37 am

You Can Vote Against Trump, and Still Be Grateful for His Actions on Israel

avatar by Shmuley Boteach


A worker on a crane hangs a US flag next to an Israeli flag near the site of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg got into a lot of trouble with the Jewish left for stating that Jews owed a debt of gratitude toward Donald Trump. Such is the state of our divisions that even when a respected and liberally-minded rabbi simply invokes Jewish values and says we should have some “hakarat hatov,” he is  attacked. Greenberg never said Jews should vote for Trump and did not even reveal whom he himself would be voting for. Rather, he simply said that Jews should have some gratitude for a president who has changed the way Israel is viewed by the rest of the world.

I assume this didn’t play well with the “Trump is Hitler” crowd, who have been so vocal for the past four years. While saying thank you to a man who moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognized the Golan Heights, changed the tenor toward Israel at the UN, and, most importantly, took us out of the Iran deal, is too much, demonizing him as a monster is still too little.

My purpose here is not to tell anyone how to vote. Less so is it to endorse any candidate. Those Jews or others who believe that Biden is their best candidate should, of course, vote their conscience.

Rather, my intention is to defend those who simply say that even if they wish to vote against Trump, they can still be grateful for all he has done for Israel and the Jewish people, and to push back against those who abase themselves by comparing Trump to Hitler. This includes a rabbi near my own community in New Jersey who published a column a few years back — in a mainstream Jewish publication — directly comparing Trump to the monster Hitler.

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Such words are beyond disgusting, vile, shameful, and it’s gone on for four years.

Since 2016, we’ve heard that Trump would become a dictator and stifle all dissent. That he would dismantle American democracy as we know it. Really? No president in history has been more hated by the mainstream news organs that Trump. Do you know what Trump can do about it? Nothing. Zero. He has no power over the media.

And the media does not fear him in the slightest either, thereby proving that he is neither dictator nor tyrant. CNN strongly challenges Trump from right inside the White House, and he is powerless to prevent their entry.

The same is true of Trump’s political enemies, who march around the country, condemning him in the strongest terms, with the president utterly powerless to a single thing about it. And why? Because the freedoms of America have not withered in the slightest during the Trump presidency.

Yes, America is divided. Yes, many Americans sadly hate each other. But yes, America remains absolutely and totally free. It would be better if we had more love for each other. And Obama contributed plenty — as did Trump — to the divisions in American society. Both presidents could have and should have done more to unite the country. But let’s not pretend that the fault lines in America began with Donald Trump.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but the disgusting and vile comparison of Trump to Hitler belittles the Holocaust and all genocide. Trump once attacked Syria for using chemical weapons, and it was Obama who turned over the problem of Assad’s poison gas to Russia and Putin, accepting the tyrant’s guarantee that he would disarm Assad of his nerve agents.

And then there is the Iran deal. Which president refused to ever confront Iran over their stated goal to annihilate Israel’s six million Jews, not to mention bring death to America? Obama or Trump? Who rewarded Iran for their repeated promises to bring about a second Holocaust by giving them $150 billion in unfrozen assets?

Then there is the claim that Trump built concentration camps on the southern border. Another disgusting, stomach-turning comparison. We can condemn the separation of children from parents at detention centers on the border — a practice which should never happen and was quickly stopped — while never being so offensive as to compare it to the Holocaust. To compare American border agents to the Gestapo is an abomination.

What the “Trump as Hitler” attacks really expose is the biases and prejudices — not to mention the amorality — of Trump’s opponents. And that just shows you where we have all come to politically. We have precious few values left. We hate each other so much that we only use the most extreme examples to pillory each other.

Jews who are voting for Biden can still, as Rabbi Greenberg said, show thankfulness and gratitude for all that Trump has done for Israel and the Jewish people. Jews who are voting for Trump can still acknowledge Biden’s decades of friendship with Israel and the Jewish community.

Jews who are voting for Biden can still make it clear to him that he should maintain his independence and not be co-opted by the antisemitic polices of the Democratic far left, headed by Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

And Jews on the left and the right can all agree that for four years, it’s been inspiring to see a president with a Jewish daughter and son-in-law in the White House.

Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 33 books. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RabbiShmuley.

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