And the shanda, the Jewish shame, just keeps on coming.
There are many things you can say about Donald Trump. But perhaps the truest is that he’s brought about more desecration of G-d’s name than any president in American history.
It seems every week there is another Jew with a very Jewish name who shows himself to be a disgrace to Judaism and to Jewish values.
Right after Charlottesville, we had Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin, two Jews who stood feet away from Trump as he said that those opposing the Nazis at a rally were equally to blame for the violence as the Nazis at the rally. And who further said some of the Nazis were ‘very fine people.’
Jews Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, and Mnuchin, secretary of the treasury, stood there and said nothing. And continued to do so. Finally after day after day after day of silence, Cohn did speak up, did say the administration “can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning” groups like the neo-Nazis and KKK.
He also prepared a resignation letter at the urging of his wife. Saying what he said was good, honorable, in line with Jewish values, but then he further said that he would not be leaving the administration, because there was work to do. Saying that was not good and not in line with Jewish values. Mnuchin couldn’t even manage that much, refusing to criticize Trump at all over his pro-Nazi statements, adding that the idea of resignation never entered his mind. Two more Jews we can proud of.
And then this week we had news about Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, and Moshe Lax, former business partner to Ivanka Trump and the guy who introduced Ivanka to Jared, thus giving the world the arrogant, ignorant power couple known as Javanka.
Lax is someone who has been sued by his vendors, been sued by his creditors, been sued by his lawyers. And is someone who was invited to attend Trump’s election night victory party.
Lax, an Orthodox Jew, was the subject of a profile in Politico Magazine that detailed his messy history of business dealings and his partnership with Ivanka. According to the article, he has remained close to the First Family even as the lawsuits against him have piled up.
Lax is the son of Chaim Lax, a diamond mogul and philanthropist. He became chairman of the now-defunct Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry about a decade ago. Lax ran the business out of his property on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, and signed a licensing agreement with Trump that paid her an annual fee and about a third of the net profits.
In 2015, a court ordered him to pay $2.4 million plus interest to KGK Diamonds, a company he bought diamonds from but did not pay. The IRS has a $27 million lien against his father’s estate. He’s accused of hiding his wealth through a series of shell companies. And then there’s this, from the article.
“Last January, Lax’s cousin, Aron, sued Lax and his sister for allegedly pursuing “unjust enrichment” by trying to evict Aron and his wife from a Brooklyn condo that they have resided in since 2006 but whose mortgage is in the name of Lax’s late father. Last October, the firm Porzio, Bromberg & Newman sued Lax for $100,000 in unpaid legal fees. And in June, the law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone sued Lax for $20,000 in unpaid legal fees. The cases remain ongoing. Lax has also been named as a defendant in a number of cases claiming failures to make mortgage payments.”
Moshe Lax, another Jew in the news, making us all proud, brought to the public eye by Trump, just like Mark Kasowitz, proud to be known as the most vicious lawyer in New York, who recently went on a very public drunken profane tirade; just like Jay Sekulow, the Jew for Jesus, who lied about Trump having nothing to do with the statement Don junior issued about his meeting with Russians, when we now know Trump actually dictated the statement; just like Jared, who claims to be so very religious, but who violated the Sabbath to comfort Trump after that ‘Access Hollywood’ tape came out, and who in the wake of Charlottesville, fled to a skiing vacation in Vermont, showing a real profile in courage.
And then we have Michael Cohen. We learned this week that Cohen, a top executive at the Trump Organization, emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman to ask him to help advance a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen contacted Putin’s top press aide, Dmitry Peskov, in January 2016, The Washington Post reported, citing documents submitted to Congress. “I am hereby requesting your assistance,” Cohen wrote to Peskov regarding a Trump Tower development deal that he said was “stalled.”
Cohen continued: “I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon.”
Cohen told congressional investigators that he had contacted Peskov at the suggestion of Russian-American businessman Felix Sater, who was helping facilitate the Moscow deal. Sater reportedly told Cohen that they could help Trump win the presidential election with the help of Putin.
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email to Cohen. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
This after Trump assured us that no one in his circle ever had anything to do in any way with Russians, that he had no business dealings with Russia, no financial interest in Russia. And after Cohen said the same thing.
One can only wonder how many Jews will be shown to be shmendriks during the life of this administration and how much the Jewish community will be covered in shame as a result.
Speaking of shame, where Trump has his tweets, Netanyahu has his settlements.
Whenever Trump is feeling attacked, feels things are closing in on him that will expose his financial shenanigans with the Russians, his campaign’s collusion with Russia, he takes to twitter to attack someone. And then he puts on a show, railing against ‘fake news,’ saying those who are investigating him are involved in a ‘witch hunt,’ putting on his macho façade saying he has ‘nothing to fear.’
I’ve felt more and more that the only difference between Trump and Netanyahu is Bibi had a bris. Other than that, they are virtually identical twins. Indeed, Bibi, who is currently under two criminal investigations, even as his wife, his son and his personal attorney are under their own criminal investigations, held a big rally for bused in supporters, natch, in which he blamed ‘fake news’ for his problems, called the investigations being conducted ‘a witch hunt’ and said he was wasn’t concerned because he had ‘nothing to fear.’
And then this week he did the same thing that Trump did when he pardoned Sheriff Joe, and imposed the transgender ban on the military, namely appeal only to his base, damn the consequences for the country.
Netanyahu appealed to his base by saying that Israel will not evacuate any more settlements. “We are here to stay forever,” the prime minister said at an event in the West Bank settlement of Barkan commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s settlement of the West Bank. “There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel.
“This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land… We will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle.”
This, just days after Trump sent his team of Jews, Jared, another Trump organization lawyer Jason Greenblatt, and others to Israel to revive and advance the peace process. Netanyahu met with them, smiled at them, and told them how much he wants to work with them to bring peace. Kind of like when Trump makes one of his sane teleprompter speeches in which he clearly does not have his heart in it and is only saying what he needs to, only to follow it up the next day with some nutty craziness.
So, after play marveling at Jared’s brilliant idea to make peace by convincing the Arab countries to back it, something they have shown no inclination to do for 50 years, Netanyahu, a couple days later, revved up the base with his “There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel” speech, thus killing dead any chances of any peace deal.
But it made his base ecstatic and that’s all that matters. Bibi needs his right wing base more than ever with all the criminal investigations against him and with legal action against him as likely as it is for Trump.
Bibi knows he’s in real trouble. Just as Trump can feel he’s in ever hotter water and so just as Trump trots out Sherriff Joe’s pardon to please the base, so Netanyahu’s visit to Barkan was the third at an official event in the West Bank in recent weeks. When Bibi is scared he goes to the West Bank, when Trump is scared he goes to West Virginia.
Both men, who are men but not leaders, are concerned before anything else with saving their necks and so are totally focused on making sure to hold on to their base. What damage they do to their countries in the process, what disunity and discord they create, what ugliness they spew, matters not.
This is a very tough time to be a sane, honorable Jew. For in the two countries we so much love and are so essential for us, we have those running the government caring about themselves above all else, doing and saying whatever they need to save themselves, even if it means doing damage to the very fabric, to the sacred values of their countries.
And so, whether you’re observant or not, I have just one piece of advice: pray.