Are you getting the feeling that the Jewish world is more and more becoming like Trumpworld?
I long ago made the point that I truly believe the Donald and the Bibi are identical twins. Each has had three wives. Each has an eldest son who is both an embarrassment and a privileged bonehead. Each is a very good talker but an inept doer. Each has thrived based on running campaigns filled with hate and division. Each acts tough but in fact has no guts. Each dismisses the criminal investigations into their activities as a ‘witch hunt,’ perpetrated by the ‘fake media.’ Each is a master at opposing but not very good at proposing.
And I’m noticing recently that likewise their people are becoming more and more alike. Never has disunity been worse in the United States and so it is among the Jewish people. Never has tolerance and acceptance been less in the United States and so it is among the Jewish people. Never has name calling and labeling and dismissing been more accepted in the United States and so it is among the Jewish people.
You know one of the absolutely foundational teachings of Judaism is ‘v’ahavta l’raycha k’mocha,’ that we are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves, meaning that we are to show the same respect and acceptance for every Jew as we show for ourselves. That just as we love ourselves, just as we value our own opinions, just as we value our own rights, so we must do for all our Jewish brothers and sisters.
But the more I deal with Jews, especially with Jews who claim to be righteous, who claim to value every word of Torah, the more I see that we have totally distorted that teaching for a new one – ‘v’ahavta l’raycha EEM k’mocha,’ meaning love your neighbor IF he’s just like you, if he’s a Jew just like you, if he practices and believes just like you, if he sees Judaism exactly as you do.
If he or she doesn’t, then it’s okay to treat them as Trump treats Hillary or as Trump treats blacks and Muslims and NFL players and NBA players and John McCain and women and immigrants, legal or not, and the intelligence community and the FBI and disabled people and Mexicans and the media.
I’ve had a couple of Trumpworld like encounters in the Jewish world myself recently. One came from a Dr. Ira, whose last name rhymes with baboon. I wrote a column in which I called President Harry Truman an anti-Semite. Dr. Baboon didn’t like it.
Which is fine, that’s his right. But it’s how he expressed his displeasure that shows much Trumpism has seeped into Judaism. First because he is so marinated in hate and intolerance, Dr. Ira totally missed the entire point of the column, just as Trump misses so many points.
My point was that though Truman’s many diary entries calling Jews all kinds of vile names and making all kinds of anti-Semitic assumptions about Jews showed clearly that Truman was an anti-Semite, still because he was president of the United States, he overcame his personal demons, his personal feelings and did the right thing, acted as we expect a president to and recognized the state of Israel 11 minutes after Ben-Gurion declared its establishment.
That to me was a shining example of acting presidential, showed that while every president is a human being and so has his personality to deal with, a great president acts not in his personal interest but in the national interest, does not what his gut tells him to do or say but what his heart tells him to do or say.
So I was actually praising Truman and holding him up as an example of what a president should be. Dr. Ira missed all that and went berserk at me calling Truman an anti-Semite, with what he said was no proof to back that up. Dr. Ira conveniently failed to let facts get in his way, ala Trump, because I, in fact, quoted several of Truman’s diary entries as proof and quoted several presidential experts who wrote books citing examples of Truman’s anti-Semitism.
But Dr. Ira, like Trump, had his ‘alternative facts’ and so the truth be damned. But what really showed Dr. Ira to be a disciple of the Donald is that he three times called our office to say that because I wrote what I wrote about Truman, I did not have the right to write, that I should not be allowed to have a column in this newspaper. Silencing someone you don’t agree with? How very unJewish, how very Trumpy. And Dr. Ira is very far from alone in the Jewish world in believing any Jew who doesn’t see things the same as you do, should be labeled and shut down.
And then we had Rabbi Ezra who, after I wrote a column calling out the super Orthodox for opposing the construction of an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall so that all Jews would have a space to pray at Judaism’s holiest site in the way they wished, sent me a snarky email asking if Reform Jews were allowed to have a space at the Wall to pray as they wished, why not do the same for those who are Jews for Jesus?
After all, he very disgustingly asked in his manipulative Talmudic way, what’s the difference between Reform Jews and Jews for Jesus? Showing exactly what is wrong with the Jewish world today, which is exactly what is wrong with Trumpism in the United States today. This need to label anyone and everyone who doesn’t see things exactly as you do as the enemy, and so someone who deserves to have war declared against them, every name and accusation hurled at them.
When I pointed out that Jews for Jesus believe that Jesus is the son of god who died for our sins and so are beyond the pale, have no place within Judaism, for that is such a desecration of the very essence of Judaism, he, of course, painting every one not like him with the same broad brush, said the same could said of Reform Jews. For like with Trump, if you aren’t just like him, you aren’t a real American, so for Rabbi Ezra if you aren’t just like him, you are not a real Jew.
How absurd his obscene view of Judaism is is that we are talking about Jews who wish to pray at the Western Wall. They are not asking to share the traditional plaza in front of the Wall with Jews like him, for they realize that their way of conducting services would be problematic to super Orthodox Jews, so all they are asking is for their own area, their own space, a space where they can pray to G-d as they wish. Super Orthodox Jews praying as they wish in their space, and Reform and Conservative Jews praying as they wish in their space. How any Jew can oppose that is to see the true face of intolerance, of sinat chinam, of baseless hatred, which is why the Second Temple was destroyed in the first place and why all that’s left of it is the Western Wall.
When I made the point to Rabbi Ezra that Reform Jews want to pray to G-d, he of course came back with the statistic that 13 percent of Reform Jews are atheists. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but it is telling that there is no end to his intolerance, just as there is no bottom for Trump, who continues to attack and attack and belittle and belittle and tweet and tweet.
Well if you want to get into numbers, Rabbi Ezra, your statistic means that 87 percent of Reform Jews do believe in G-d so why oppose letting that overwhelming majority have a space at Judaism’s holiest site to pray to Him? 13 percent of Reform Jews are atheists so that means dismissing all 100 percent of Reform Jews, making them not even second class Jews at the Wall?
And if you want to get into numbers, Rabbi Ezra, answer me this. According to the most recent Pew survey of American Jewry, only 10 percent of American Jews identify as Orthodox, while 35 percent identify as Reform. If you are so right and so righteous, how do you explain that more than three times as many American Jews choose Reform as their preferred way of being Jewish? Hell, that same survey showed that 30 percent of American Jews don’t identify with any denomination, again three times as many as identify as Orthodox.
Another question raised by that Pew survey, since Rabbi Ezra is so in love with numbers and uses them as a tool to deprive the majority of Jews of their Jewish rights, how is it that the Pew survey found that “approximately one-quarter of people who were raised Orthodox have since become Conservative or Reform Jews… Much less switching is reported in the opposite direction. For example, just 7% of Jews raised in the Reform movement have become Conservative or Orthodox, and just 4% of those raised in Conservative Judaism have become Orthodox.”
What does that tell you, Rabbi Ezra? If the way you choose to be Jewish is the absolute best and so the only way that should be accepted, the only way that should have the right to pray at the Wall, if other Jews have no right to their own space at the Wall, deserve to be compared to Jews for Jesus, why is it so many more leave your way of being Jewish and go to theirs then leave theirs to go to yours? And why do more than half of American Jews, 53 percent to be exact, identify as Conservative or Reform and only 10 percent as Orthodox?
Seems that just like Trump was elected by a minority of the American people, so Rabbi Ezra claims exclusive rights to the Wall for a tiny minority of the Jewish people.
One final Trump/Judaism scary similarity. Trump is so irrational, he wanted to get rid of Obamacare no matter how many it would hurt, how much damage it would do. So just recently, Netanyahu, who is psychotic when it comes to Iran, said he preferred cancelling the Iran deal to fixing it, just as Trump has preferred repealing Obamacare to fixing it. And just like Trump has done with North Korea, using threatening language that only makes matters worse, Bibi said to Iran, “Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in peril.”
All this despite the fact that Israel’s intelligence community opposes cancelling the Iran deal, saying they have identified no Iranian violations and saying they fear an Iranian nuclear breakout — meaning a concentrated effort to obtain offensive capabilities – if the deal is scrapped.
And yet Trump, at Bibi’s urging, might do just that in a couple of weeks. And so it seems that Trump’s poisoning of American life has put us in real danger of a war with North Korea and his way has spread to Judaism, which might lead Israel to war with Iran.
At what point does all this stop being funny, and as Trump would say in one of his tweets, become ‘very sad!’