This is not the sort of article I normally write. It’s an opinion piece. I’ve got something to say and there’s not a lot of time, so I’m just going to say it: Vote Trump and feel good about it.
For me, living as I do in Israel, there is only one issue. I judge an American presidential candidate based on how I think he will behave towards Israel. (For those who think that is a parochial view, hang on until this article’s conclusion.) As far as I am concerned, America has not done too well on that score for quite a while. Today, when Israel builds five new buildings for Jews in Jerusalem, the American secretary of state calls up Israel’s prime minister and yells at him for 45 minutes. I want that to change.
To avoid “false advertising,” let me tell you a little bit about myself before I go on. I grew up in Baltimore, attended and graduated from TA in 1973. When I was 16 years old, under the influence of Rabbi Chaim Druckman, shlita, a student of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, z”l, I made the decision to move to Israel. I learned in Kerem BeYavne yeshiva in Israel for one year, in the yeshiva of Rav Brovender for one year, and for two years in Har Etzion, the yeshiva of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, z”l, and Rav Yehuda Amital, z”l. I have lived in Kiryat Arba, an ideological settlement for 32 years, and for over 30 years I have learned in a daily chavruta with Rav Yitzchak Rodrig, who himself learned for many years from Rav Dov Lior, shlita, likewise a student of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook.
Living in Kiryat Arba, and learning and talking with the people here, I have soaked up a particular view of the world that is perhaps not identical to that of a Litvishe Ner Israel graduate. Perhaps it is more similar in certain ways to Chabad, but it is entirely based, I believe, on Torah sources, all the same. All that said, I would like to share with you my hashkafic perspective on the times in which we live and its challenges.
I have been taught to view the world as being in the midst of a major redemption process, promised by the Torah and the prophets, involving G-d’s returning His divine presence and His people to the Land of Israel. That redemption process began 2,000 years ago immediately upon the Second Temple’s destruction. For a long time you couldn’t see it happening, but now you can. In fact, the process seems to be advancing. When that process is completed, G-d’s name will be one on earth, and all of mankind will benefit spiritually and materially from the presence of the Jewish People living holy lives in the Land of Israel.
In accordance with Talmudic and kabbalistic writings, a time may come when completion of that process depends on Israel being isolated from all the other nations, truly standing alone, but in the meantime, all we have is what our eyes can see. In the meantime, Israel gains from the political support it receives from countries that are sympathetic to it.
All this brings me to Donald Trump. I don’t think Israel was an important issue to him five months ago, but at some point in April, he dutifully researched it and by early May, he was saying that Israel should “keep building” in Judea and Samaria and should “move forward” in response to Arab terror. Has there ever been an American president who said such a thing during the past 40 years? From where I sit, Trump is light years ahead of the “I-like-the-two-state-solution-and-that-proves-I-love-Israel” group.
Trump’s ability to say such a thing reveals some very good things about him. It means that he can tell the difference between good and evil, and that he has the courage to side with goodness against evil. Most American presidents have failed in that regard over the past 40 years.
We’ve seen the results of the other approach. Obama consciously sides with the Moslem Brotherhood against Egypt’s pro-Israel President El-Sisi. He sides with Iran against Israel’s de facto ally Saudi Arabia. He’s no friend of the Kurds. No matter what evil thing Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas says or does, Obama and Hillary are sure to ignore it. In fact, American foreign policy – specifically, America’s chronically choosing the wrong side – is largely responsible for the destruction of Syria, the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives there and the migration of hundreds of thousands of Arab Moslems to Europe with all the repercussions of that.
Some people say, “But Trump makes the Mexicans feel uncomfortable, and if they feel uncomfortable, the Jews will be next.” Considering Trump’s family ties and his demonstrated readiness to be on the right side of the Israel issue, I tend to find that fear farfetched.
People say, “But Trump’s an ignoramus.” Is he? I think he is anything but. Type “Trump 1991” in Google and watch an hour of Trump, 25 years younger, wowing Congress with his advice on how to improve the American economy. He talks freely but with utter respect for the congressmen he is addressing, without notes, and it is obvious that he lives and breathes the topics he is covering. He’s not reading pages prepared by a financial advisor. He’s not throwing out buzz words and clichés fed to him by a public relations man to make the listener feel good. He’s saying what he believes based on his vast business experience, and he sounds convincing.
This is a man who knew how to make himself a billionaire and who wants to share that knowledge. He has ideas about how to make everyone more prosperous. People are saying that the American economy is not doing well, although I know little about that issue. I think Trump will be able to improve that situation. I think he’s got horse sense, and if he at first makes some mistakes, he will figure out how to correct them. He has already shown evidence of that in his campaign strategy.
People say, “But Trump is vulgar.” A story is told about Harry Truman. A friend of his wife heard him use the expression “fertilizer.” The woman urged, “Bess, get Harry to use the word ‘compost’ instead. It’s more seemly,” to which she replied, “It’s taken me 40 years to get him to use the word ‘fertilizer’….” Was Harry Truman vulgar? Harry Truman was considered an unsophisticated hack politician. He turned out to be one of the most decent presidents in the past 70 years. Once he understood the true agenda of the “blue pants boys,” as he called them, the anti-Semitic State Department officials who loved Arabs and hated Jews and Israel, he became Israel’s most important supporter.
The U.S. has had a series of presidents who have resembled one another. Let’s say Carter, Clinton, Clinton, Obama, and Obama, and we’ve got another one waiting to join them. They’re all politically correct. They all say, “Amen, brothers and sisters! Love thy enemy and hate thy friend.” They all claim to have America’s interests at heart while working against American’s interests. They all broadcast weakness, and the result is hundreds of thousands of people being killed in the chaos that results. Nothing could be as vulgar as that.
If something is good for the Jews, it is good for everybody. That’s an axiom I have been taught and I believe in: If things are good for Israel, they will be good for the Mexicans as well. Trump has shown that, deep down, he knows how to tell the real good guys from the real bullies. When the election is over and the dust settles, I think we can count on him to be fair to the weak and unfortunate in all realms of American society.