Some of my best friends are Republicans. Jewish Republicans.
I cherish our friendship, even and especially when we do not agree on political issues.
This is what I want to say to my Jewish Republican friends: For the sake of our friendship, and for the sake of the Republican party, and for the sake of the United States of America, I wish that you had better presidential choices.
You deserve them; your party deserves them, and America deserves them.
That being said, as it appears that Donald Trump might very well be the Republican presidential nominee, I wonder if Jewish Republicans will support Trump’s candidacy.
I have have four questions for Jews who are faced with the possibility of voting for Donald Trump:
- Are you comfortable supporting someone who has the support of white supremacists?
Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke has said: “Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.”
The American National Super PAC, a white supremacist super PAC, has been using a robocall to drum up support for Trump. In the message, white nationalist American Freedom Party leader William Johnson says: “The white race is dying out in America because we are afraid to be called ‘racist.’”
In the 2008 campaign, When Senator John McCain detected bigotry in his campaign against Barak Obama, he shut it down — and fast.
Even worse: Trump, incredibly, claimed ignorance about such supremacists groups, including the KKK!
Note to Jewish Trumpers: you might actually support Trump’s railing against Muslims and immigrants.
All I am asking is this: Check out the people who are applauding those statements.
Do you see yourselves in their faces, and in their eyes?
Are you absolutely sure that the xenophobic fury that those crowds are feeding upon will not, ultimately, turn against Jews?
Because if you really think that, once they’re done verbally (and otherwise — may we be spared such things) picking on other Others, that they wouldn’t turn on Jews, then you would be kidding yourselves. Study some history.
- Are you comfortable supporting someone who has declared his “neutrality” on Israel-Palestinian talks? To be sure: the history of American presidents and their relationship with Israel has been a mixed bag (see Dennis Ross’s new book on the subject). And perhaps Trump is simply viewing Israel-Palestinian negotiations the way he would view any other negotiation. Still, to hear that he would be neutral on Israel is both puzzling and disturbing.
- Are you comfortable supporting someone whose greatest weapon is the insult? At last count, he has insulted about 199 people. The list goes on and on. He insulted women, by vulgarly alluding to menstruation (come on — what are we, in tenth grade or something?) He criticized Hillary Clinton for needing to go to the bathroom during a debate. He has insulted handicapped people.
If you want to support Donald Trump, go ahead. I am merely saying that he has violated every principle of civil speech that Jews (and presumably, the rest of the civilized world) holds dear. Ask yourselves: would you want your child to speak this way?
An essay in the Washington Post puts it this way:
It is Trump’s style, his defiance of convention and political correctness, that seems to explain the intensity of his support. “We’re voting with our middle finger,” said a Trump supporter in South Carolina.
There you have it — this is the politics of the middle finger. Jews should know better.
- Are you comfortable supporting someone who has declared war on democracy by threatening to sue the press? “I’m gonna open up our libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible, false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Trump said at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas.
Each of those points might be sufficient to worry anyone about Trump’s candidacy. And, to be sure, people are worried — and many of those people include steadfast Republicans.
But, Jews have different values, a different history, a different mindset — each of which is crucial to our self-definition if Judaism is not going to be simply an ethnic memory.
Christians are asking the same questions.
Again, the Washington Post: “For Christians, the price of entry to the Trump movement is to abandon their commitments to kindness and love of neighbor. Which would mean that their faith has no public consequence at all.”
Now, some will say: You think Obama was so great? You think that Hillary’s judgement has always been so wonderful?
Those questions are, at this point, a distraction. We are talking about Donald Trump. Let’s not change the subject.
All I’m asking is: Come November, and t’s time to enter the voting booth, and they are faced with the possibility of voting for Donald Trump — what will Jewish Republicans do?