Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerThe writer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .
The current Presidential election campaign in America has been quite unusual and hard to fathom on many levels. Therefore, it may well be understood that people outside America barely can grasp what is going on. Complicating any effort to decipher the campaign, we always must remember that the media cheat, deceive, and lie — almost always to promote a Left agenda.
It is for this same reason, for example, that most American Jews have no grasp of what truly goes on in Israeli politics. For half a century and more, the American media portrayed the Israeli Labor Party and its ally, Mapam, who were joined at the hip in the Maarach coalition, as moderately liberal. No one understood that Mapam was outright Marxist, that it was a party that paid for a full-page ad in Israel in the 1950s to mourn the death of Josef Stalin.
American Jews think that Israeli Supreme Court justices are elevated the way that American Supreme Court justices rise — with the advice and consent of Israel's Parliament. They have no idea of the corrupt system in Israel by which a small unelected clique control who sits on the Court.
If you lived in America 75 years ago, you heard and read that Ben-Gurion called Zev Jabotinsky “Vladimir Hitler.” You heard and read that Menachem Begin was a terrorist and attempted a Hitler-style “putsch” when the Israeli government decided to accept war reparations from Germany. You heard and read that the Irgun were terrorists. You never heard about the warnings phoned into the King David Hotel or about what the British were doing that led to the “Patria” and “Struma” tragedies. You never learned who Shlomo ben Yosef was and why he bore arms, who Dov Gruner was, what really happened at Deir Yassin and why. All you knew from afar was that LEHI was the “Stern Gang.” That Jabotinsky was Hitler and that Betar were “brown shirts” wearing dark blue instead. That Begin was a fascist.
To this day one does not hear the truth. Amid moral relativism, we read and hear that Hamas should not have built those tunnels and done all those naughty things, but the Israelis were far worse, mass-murdering thousands of innocent “Palestinians” — poor defenseless women and children — who want nothing other than to sit by their olive trees and import their cement to build homeless shelters. We never read or hear that Hamas rose to power by a free and democratic vote among Gazan men and women who freely voted to destroy Israel, that Hamas sets up their attacks from civilian apartment buildings, hospitals, schoolyards.
Israelis know, but those outside Israel who rely on the mainstream news media — CNN, the mainstream American networks, and even Israel’s leftist media — have no clue.
So I write to tell you what really is going on here in America during this Presidential election.
First, a full disclosure. As I write today on March 11, 2016, Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni 5776, I presently favor Sen. Ted Cruz. My second choice, Sen. Marco Rubio, very possibly will be knocked out on Tuesday night. My third choice is businessman Donald Trump. My fourth choice is Gov. John Kasich. I have no fifth choice available. Now to explain.
In Israel there are six hundred and thirteen political parties, in America only two: the Democrats and the Republicans. First, as to the Democrats, there are two candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders of radically liberal Vermont, and Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders actually is a very good man — he is honest, and he is decent. He really is. He is the most honest and decent guy in American politics. The only problem is that he is an Old Time Marxist from the Old Country — everyone has an “Uncle Boinie” like him — a socialist who literally honeymooned in the Soviet Union upon marrying years ago, an utterly assimilated Jew from another era when all Jews spoke Yiddish and could read Hebrew, and were so assimilated that you could not even call them “self-hating.” He is not a self-hater. He rather is a gentle Marxist like the crazy uncle who comes to the Seder every year and wants to know why no one will drink the wine in the Elijah Cup if Elijah doesn’t want any. This past Rosh Hashanah he was busy speaking at aChristian University in Lynchburg, Virginia, asking for their votes. In the language of his ancestors: er vayst foon gornisht oon is a shtikel meshuggeh (He knows from nothing and is a bit crazy.).
So that is all you need to know about Bernie. He is not going to win the Democrat nomination, and Americans surely would not elect him President at age 74 even if he did get nominated (say, if Hillary gets indicted, and he is the last man standing). Still, he is very likeable — he is nothing like a bitter Yossi Sarid or Shulamit Aloni, if you remember them. Enough about Bernie.
His opponent — the person whom the Democrats actually will nominate (unless — or maybe even if — she first is indicted) is Hillary Clinton. Clinton would be a terrible, terrible blight for Israel. This cannot be emphasized enough. Not that she is anti-Semitic. Like Obama — who was surrounded by Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrad and other such riff-raff — Hillary is surrounded by a fair number of Jews. They and she even regard themselves as friends of Israel, much as Franklin Roosevelt was a friend in the 1940s.
Israel has more such friends than it can count. Obama is such a friend — friendly enough to help Israel by crafting the Iran Nuclear Deal. The European Union includes such friends. Israel is blessed with an abundance of American political friends, particularly Democrats, waiting to save Israel from itself because they know better than Israel how to make peace with Arafat and Abbas and Hamas: just give them territory for peace and for guarantees that they will stop incitement, that they will change their textbooks and camps and street signs and television and children’s programming. The danger in Hillary is that she knows how to manipulate the political system to impose her will.
If Hillary were in Israel, she now would be sitting with Prime Minister Olmert and President Katzav in a special government-provided facility. Instead of serving the people, she rightly would be serving time.
This is the Hillary who screamed at Bibi on the phone. Who stood alongside Suha Arafat, praising her as Suha was accusing Jews of poisoning Arab water. The Hillary who, as Obama’s Secretary of State, demanded not only that Israel stop building in Judea and Samaria, but also even in Jerusalem. If elected, she would be a disaster, another four years of Obama-Kerry.
Under her, ISIS would continue expanding, Iraq would completely fall to Iran, Putin would expand beyond Crimea to the Ukraine, Syria and Libya would fall completely to chaos, and she would leave Israel in a precarious position, notwithstanding that she — like Obama — would continue providing military defensive aid to help Israel defend from expanded Hezbollah capabilities in South Lebanon, increased Iranian threats, and expanded Hamas capabilities in Gaza. And then, when Israel would defend by bombing terror sites in Gaza, her State Department would turn onIsrael and condemn every strike.
The thing holding her back in the election is that she is mired in more scandals right now than Ehud Olmert ever was. If Hillary were in Israel, she now would be sitting with Prime Minister Olmert and President Katzav in a special government-provided facility. Instead of serving the people, she rightly would be serving time. Space does not allow for detailing the scandals here, but she presently is being investigated by the FBI and will be indicted unless the FBI deems the matter too incendiary, in which case they may instead indict one or two of her closest aides.
That brings us to the Republicans, otherwise known as the Grand Old Party (the GOP). Initially, there were 17 candidates vying for the party’s Presidential nomination. American never before had seen anything like it. Now the Republican candidates are down to four. Barring a miracle, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the son of Cuban immigrants, very possibly will be knocked out on Tuesday night when the vote results come in from the Florida GOP primary, and he probably will “suspend his campaign” (i.e., drop out of the race) by Thursday or Friday, though he might limp on a bit longer until he faces reality and finds that his donors dry up. He is a wonderful guy, an amazing friend of Israel — he only uses the term “Judea and Samaria” and never says “West Bank,” and he is pro-Israel beyond belief. However, like pro-Israel Gov. Mike Huckabee’s failed campaign, Rubio’s effort seems not meant to be.
It was Rubio’s misfortune that Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida and brother of the last President Bush and son of the one before that, also wanted to be President this year. Because they both are in Florida and both rely on the same Florida constituency to propel them to win the important Florida GOP primary, Bush spent nearly $100 million — that is not a typo: one hundred million dollars — on advertising throughout America aimed at destroying Rubio. Although Bush ultimately dropped out of the race, Rubio was damaged.
Marco then made two devastating campaign mistakes: first, an unfortunate five-minute stretch during a Presidential debate when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who since has dropped out of the race also, orally pummeled him and exposed a weakness in Rubio’s excessive reliance on a pre-packaged three-sentence criticism of Obama. Rubio could not stop repeating the mantra; he did it four timesin five minutes, and it made him seem like a pre-programmed robot. His other fatal mistake was deciding strategically to mock opponent Donald Trump in manners and language that would be spoken by a teenage bully, but not consonant with the persona of decency that Rubio had presented until then. He stained his image. It looks like he will pay the price and lose to Trump in the Florida primary on Tuesday, March 15. If he cannot win his own state, he will be finished.
That will leave Trump, Cruz, and Kasich.
Gov. Kasich of Ohio is a nice enough guy, but there is reason to fear that he will be the same as George W. Bush: another “friend of Israel” who tries to impose a “two-state solution” for “Israel’s own good,” someone who emerges as politically even-handed, driven to “help Israel” reach a “peace agreement” because he is so “pro-Israel.” Under him, as with the Bushes before, there would be pressure not to build in Yesha/Yosh or in East Jerusalem. But he would be better than Clinton. If you liked Bush and Condoleezza Rice, Kasich is for you.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, by contrast, is amazingly pro-Israel. I have never seen anything like it. On his first day in office, he will move America’s Israelembassy to Jerusalem. He will allow construction in Yosh. He is so pro-Israel that, frankly, my only fear is that Israeli politicians will weaken him as they did when the late Jack Kemp, a congressman who later ran as the GOP Vice Presidential nominee under Bob Dole in the 1996 losing race against Bill Clinton, found himself embarrassed by supporting Israeli rights to Yosh even as Israeli government leaders were publicly expressing readiness to give it up. Cruz, the son of Cuban immigrants, is a brilliant debater, a brilliant mind, graduate of one of America’s greatest law schools, and a former Solicitor-General of Texas, whose job entailed arguing and winning cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a rock-ribbed conservative, supporter of religious rights and an abortion opponent, a Reagan-style free-enterprise capitalist and, like Rubio, a strong supporter of a strong American military role in the world. For better or worse, though, entrepreneur Donald Trump probably will beat Sen. Cruz for the GOP nomination, if present voting trends hold up.
Trump’s “gut” is that he does not trust radical Islam and recoils from the inexplicable hatred that many Islamists feel towards America.
So that leaves Trump. He is hard to decipher, and he likes it that way. His book, “The Art of the Deal,” is his guide to life. He is a wheeler-dealer, a very successful billionaire businessman whose great business successes in building gambling casinos and hotels have been offset by an occasional business bankruptcy. His opponents point to those corporate bankruptcies as a bad sign, but I like it. Seriously, a guy who can walk away from his debts, again and again, can walk away from Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and from Obama’s other delirious “executive actions” that have damaged America in a variety of ways ranging from health care to border control to energy independence to America’s role in the world. Trump is impossible to gauge because, as the consummate dealer, he never shows his hand, and neither friend nor foe can guess his bottom line on anything — what is bluff and what is real.
The leftist media portray Trump as a perilous tyrant. They portray him as Hitler and Mussolini. It all is nonsense and ridiculous. It is like the way they portrayed Jabo as Mussolini and as Vladimir Hitler, and Begin as Hitler attempting a putsch. It is even more ridiculous than that. As one example among many, Trump was concerned that, although his political rallies sometimes attract 20,000 people, not all of his supporters translate their enthusiasm by actually going to vote. So, as a joke at one rally, with his crowd in a laughing mood, he kiddingly asked everyone to raise their right hand and to “solemnly promise” to go and actually vote on election day. In America, when someone “solemnly promises,” he does so while raising his right hand. That is how they do it in court, in the movies, on TV, even on an old television commercial for “Promise Margarine” (a butter substitute). So everyone, giggling, raised their right hands and made a “solemn promise” to actually vote on election day. The very next morning, the leftist media showed the 20,000 people with raised hands and compared them to Hitler salutes at mass Nazi rallies. Just the most dishonest, idiotic media lie imaginable.
In another situation, Trump was asked whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a racist hater who is associated with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a now-small but once-powerful viciously racist group that used to lynch and hang Black people and that wanted to expel Jews from America. Trump disavowed him on a Friday. Trump then was asked again two days later, and he misunderstood what he was being asked, so he hesitated at the interview to disavow. Later that day, he disavowed the hater again. But meantime, the leftist media was packed with reports that Trump had hesitated, in between, to disavow Duke. So the suggestion was that Trump is a racist who hates Blacks and Jews like the KKK. Again — utter leftist-media nonsense.
Indeed, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, plays an enormous and even central role in his life, running many of his businesses, speaking for him — and she is a Giyoret Tzedek, a shomeret Shabbat convert to Judaism. He adores Ivanka. She and her husband are “Modern Orthodox” of the kind associated with our kind of Religious Zionism. So, again — a bald media lie.
Trump nevertheless does pose a concern for avid supporters of Israel. Despite his lifelong record of supporting Israel with enormous charitable gifts and investments, real friendship with Bibi, and great connections in the pro-Israel community, Trump repeatedly declares that he is intensely pro-Israel but will be “neutral” in any Mideast deal-making. We just do not know what he means, what he is up to. Again, Trump is a deal-maker. His philosophy is that, if he comes out publicly as too pro-Israel, in the way that Cruz and Rubio do, then the Arabs never will sit with him as an honest broker (just as sensible Israelis never would trust Obama to be a negotiating intermediary with Abbas). So Trump wants to keep his door open to the Arabs. But how “neutral” would he be? No one can know because he is impossible to gauge.
It would seem surprising if Trump ever would contemplate imposing a deal on Israel the way that a Bush or Carter or Bill Clinton did. More probably, a Bibi would explain what’s-what, and Trump would understand what’s-what, and he would propose some kind of reasonable idea that the Arabs never would accept. And then Trump would walk away from it. The main concern and danger with Trump is that, if Israel eventually elects an idiot from the Labor Left as Prime Minister, then Trump understandably would feel he should not be more pro-Israel than an Israeli Prime Minister offering to concede the farm.
Trump’s “gut” is that he does not trust radical Islam and recoils from the inexplicable hatred that many Islamists feel towards America. He associates with and is endorsed by the kinds of evangelical Christians who are Israel’s best friends in America, and he is overwhelmed by Islamist hostility against Christianity and America. By contrast, he has had wonderful relations with Jews all his life. He trusts Jews in his highest places — and not the kinds of self-haters who leech onto Democrats — and, again, there is his daughter.
In summary: Cruz would be an amazing President for America at home and abroad, and Israel would finally get a breather with such a profound friend in the White House. But if Cruz falls to Trump in the GOP primaries, as seems more likely than not, odds are that Trump nevertheless would be the best American President for Israel since Nixon re-supplied the IDF in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. For those of us who remember Ronald Reagan warmly, we also remember that he was a mixed bag for Israel, condemning Israel’s conduct of Milchemet Shalom HaGalil in 1982, condemning Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, and even proposing a peace agreement that Menachem Begin publicly tore up in the Knesset. All the others have been worse.
American Presidents are elected to serve and protect America’s interests, not Israel’s. It is not our way to put our faith in princes but in G-d, the True Guardian of Israel. If Rubio gets knocked out by failing to win his home state in the March 15 GOP Florida primary on Tuesday, and if Cruz cannot overcome Trump’s current commanding lead as more than half of the fifty American states already have selected their GOP party-convention delegates, then Trump will leave much to be desired. Nevertheless, sad to say, he still probably would be the best American President for Israel in nearly half a century. Not saying much, but it is what it is.
And the alternative would be Clinton, whether she would be serving from the White House or serving time in the Big House. That alternate choice makes Trump even more desirable.