Now, more than ever, we need to clear the air and find out what there is to know about the current US president's attitude to the Jewish people and whether there is any basis to the accusations that have been hurled at him since his coming on the national scene, and especially since the incomprehensible anti-Semitic massacre in Squirrel Hill, where, as John Podhoretz wrote, the blame game is in full swing.
Jews are in the front line of the debate, or more accurately, the acrimonious name-calling, concerning US President Donald Trump. Leftist progressive liberal Jews hate him with a passion - take, for example, the rude and ill-bred Jews who told him not to come to Squirrel Hill – while others see him as a man whose actions are part of the fulfillment of prophecies surrounding the Redemption. There is, admittedly, some hyperbole in the second half of the previous sentence's Redemption comparison, but none in the first half. The hatred is palpable, scornful and often vitriolic. The dividing line among Jews can be drawn, roughly, between the Orthodox, who approve of and are appreciative of both the president's actions in the US and towards Israel, and the other Jewish groups, including the Open Orthodox.
What is interesting is that while they are uncompromising about blaming Trump, none of the Jewish Trump-bashers looks in the mirror, as Jack Engelhard suggested. They certainly don't look in the historic mirror, to see whether they play a role in anti-Semitism's surfacing in the US – and that includes their very public and moralistic criticism of the Jewish state, still as surrounded by enemies as it was in 1948. Those Jews who make their abhorrence of America's elected leader so very public, to the point where in addition to anti-Trump marches, some rabbis said they were going to 'sit shiva' when he was elected, do not stop to wonder if it is their behavior that infuriates the violent alt right and white supremacists who make up a fringe element of the many normative Trump supporters and brings them out of the closet; armed with guns.
Jews are never the same as other people and they have always realized it, even while bemoaning the phenomenon's irrationality. That is why traditionally, throughout their history of persecution, Jews were loyal to whoever was ruler, sometimes only outwardly, sometimes sincerely – and they always lay low when it came to criticizing "malchus" – the current government, whenever that was. This generation's feeling of belonging in the USA, the country that welcomed Jews and eschewed bigotry from its inception, has led not only to an alarming rate of intermarriage, but to trashing that long time Diaspora Golden rule. And anti-Semitism in the United States, evil as everywhere, was not long in emerging from its dormant state.
But who is right about Trump? Is the truth somewhere in the middle? No - there is no middle when it comes to anti-Semitism, and what is needed is a clear, unprejudiced and thorough report on the president's record and statements about the people who are once again the target of irrational hatred and prejudices.
'Trump and the Jews', a new and riveting book written by David Rubin, who survived a terror attack in the company of his 3-year old son, is former mayor of the Israeli town of Shiloh and founding president of the Shiloh Israel Children's Fund, and he does just that. Rubin has been called the 'trusted voice of Israel' and it is obvious that he thoroughly researched the topic and is careful to present the facts – an element missing from the current emotional debate. He not only reports, he traces, compares and therefore also places today's situation in historical perspective. He also declares that today "no one is neutral" and bemoans the fact that in today's liberal circles, "no one can differ."
Rubin begins with an eye-opening overview of America's deep connection to the people of Israel and their Bible, starting with the Puritans and Founding Fathers. He tells us the history of Jews in America, about the relationships to the Jews of Washington, Lincoln, the particularly moving story of Harry Truman and Israel's Chief Rabbi at Israel's establishment, going on to contrast this with Jimmy Carter and then Obama, who, in Rubin's succinct words "turned to the Islamic world." The facts he presents speak for themselves. The various failed peace plans as well as the history of the conflict are brought and explained to the reader, allowing him or her to balance the threesome of peace, Palestinians and reality in an informed way.
Going on to Trump, who he defines somewhat ruefully as a straight-shooting New Yorker and whose personal life he does not whitewash, as he does not ignore Hillary's scandals and Sander's appeasement of the hard left, Rubin shows in detailed fashion the damage Obama did to the special US-Israel relationship and how Trump has renewed America's connection with its strongest ally in the Middle East, if not the entire world.
As for American Jewry, in a particularly painful sentence the author says that "the liberal Jewish community proved that its liberal ideology and knee jerk rejection of Republicans was more enduring than its attachment to Israel." And more tersely: "Liberalism is the new religion of non-Orthodox Jews and they call it Judaism." Except that today's progressive liberalism rejects the American values of respect for individual opinions, respect for private property and the benefits of having less government, and has enabled the appearance of Antifa, Occupy Wall Street and the raucous Women's March on Washington.
Being pro-Israel, he says, is not parochialism, and being for or against Trump is a democratic right, but as he traces different Jewish communities, their attachment to Jewish roots and their voting patterns, he shows how these issues have so divided the Jewish community, that there is no more meaning to the expression "the Jewish vote."
Rubin tells the story of the Trump team, delves into the Iran treaty and Trump's policies on immigration, carefully differentiating between the histories of Jewish and other immigrants to the US and the Islamic ones. He is not at all Islamophobic, just realistic, and shows the reader why it makes sense to fear Islam and protect the US from the harm it can cause if unchecked and unvetted.
Judge by results, judge by actions, not by prejudices and preconceived ideas, Rubin asks, ending with 11 wise suggestions for Trump. One of them is a quote from the Jewish Sages, the first part of which might even help change Trump's image for those of his opponents who are willing to listen. It is: "Say little and do a lot."
David Rubin is a voice that needs to be heard. And "Trump and the Jews" a riveting read which will make your opinion of Donald Trump and the Israel-Palestinian conflict an informed one. No matter what your political stance, you owe it to yourself to read it.