What I found so fascinating about how Jewish zayde Donald Trump defended himself against the portrait of himself drawn in the new book ‘Fire and Fury’ by Jewish author Michael Wolff is that his response could not have been more unJewish, more lacking in Jewish values, more full of Jewish sins.
At a press conference at Camp David, Trump reacted to what so many of those around him think of him, how they see him. What did he say? He said he went to the best college, was an excellent student, made billions of dollars in business, was very successful on TV, was elected president on his first try.
Fascinating. He said nothing about the amount of charity he’s given, the good deeds he’s done, the great friendships he has, his children, his commitment to his faith, the lives he’s touched and made better.
He bragged, which is, of course, pure Trump, but it’s what he bragged about. How much money he’s made, how smart he is, how famous he is, how successful he’s been. Nothing about doing for others, nothing about tzedakah, nothing about acts of kindness, nothing about things worth bragging about.
Virtually everything Trump said to defend himself, to show what a ‘very stable genius’ he is, is directly contradictory to the teachings of the Torah, the lessons of Jewish tradition. Now you may say, but he’s not Jewish, so so what. So what is that every single head of every single yeshiva in this country voted for him and urged their followers to do the same, thought his character was the one most in sync with Judaism.
Judaism teaches we are to always avoid ‘geivah,’ arrogance, being full of yourself, being narcissistic. Clearly, Trump sins on that one. It also emphasizes the need to not do unto others as you would not have done unto you, to treat all people kindly, and yet look at how immediately Trump belittled and attacked Steve Bannon, the guy who ran his campaign in the crucial final stretch, the guy who gave it the philosophical framework that appealed to so many, helped Trump win the support of the right wing media.
Trump did two things to Bannon totally against Jewish law. He took ‘nekama,’ revenge, something Judaism says never to do. He called him ‘Sloppy Steve,’ had his henchmen go on TV to trash him, took big time nekama because he didn’t like the things Bannon said to the author of the book. And Trump violated another basic Jewish principle, that of ‘hakaros hatov’ showing gratitude, appreciating someone who has done you a good. Bannon, like him or not, did do Trump a lot of good, was the only one that urged him to stay in the race after the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape came out, knew exactly how to appeal to the Trump voters.
Even more sadly to me is the behavior of some Jews after the book came out. One is Stephen Miller, a top policy advisor to Trump, who went on CNN for an interview with Jake Tapper, who is Jewish by the way (as usual, every big news story has a lot of Jews in the middle of it). Miller, a Jew who looks like a skinhead and often acts and talks like one, broke big time the Jewish law against ‘lashon hara,’ speaking ill of another person, especially another Jew when he savagely attacked fellow Jew Michael Wolff calling him and his book every ugly name in the book. Instead of just stating his disagreement with the conclusions Wolff reached in his book, Miller attacked him in the most personal ways possible. And for good measure, Miller did the same to Tapper, actually saying at one point he didn’t want to talk about Trump’s unfitness, which is the point of the book, but of Tapper’s unfitness. Talk about lashon hara.
And the way Miller talked, the way he acted, the neo-Nazish behavior he exhibited, violated one of Judaism’s most important values, by being a ‘chilul Hashem,’ a desecration of G-d’s name. By being a Jew who acted like an animal, actually had to be cut off by Tapper because he was so unhinged, actually had to be escorted out of the CNN studio because he was so rude, Miller showed the world a Jew behaving not like a Jew is to behave.
And then we have Ronald Lauder, who is the head of the World Jewish Congress, a formerly great organization founded by the great Chicagoan Philip Klutznick, which Lauder has made a laughingstock, both irrelevant and a joke. The only reason Lauder has the job is because he is fabulously wealthy and the only reason he is fabulously wealthy is because his mommy was Estee Lauder, yes, as in the cosmetics.
While thankfully the heads of all Jewish organizations had enough sechel, meaning Jewish sense, and enough Jewish pride to keep their mouths closed after the Michael Wolff book was released, dopey old Ronald Lauder couldn’t wait to say Trump is “a man of incredible insight and intelligence.”
Now you can be the biggest supporter of Trump, but there is almost no one in the world, certainly no one who has ever worked for, been with, watched or heard Trump, that would say he is a man of incredible insight and intelligence. I mean read his twitter feed, listen to how he talks, read how the secretary of state has called him a ‘moron,’ how senators have said in meetings with him on policy issues it is clear he knows absolutely nothing about what is being talked about. He may be many things, but intelligent he is not.
Judaism teaches us never to lie and what Lauder did was tell a big lie. Judaism also teaches never to flatter, for flattering another person is to show a lack of faith in G-d for it is G-d that determines what happens to us and we are to rely solely on him and not on mere humans, are not supposed to debase ourselves by flattering others because they have a lot of money or power. We praise our higher power. Lauder brought shame upon the Jewish people, did not act as a Jewish leader is told to act, did not act as every Jew is taught to act.
And then we have another Jewish tushie kisser who debased himself even worse than Lauder did. Zionist Organization of America head Morton Klein actually praised, wait for it, Steve Bannon, praised him, wait for it, for being a great friend of the Jews.
There is virtually no one on earth who doesn’t see Steve Bannon for the despicable creature he is. He is mean, vindictive, hateful, delusional, backed to the hilt the likes of Roy Moore, child sexual molester, is so low he even betrayed the guy who made him famous by trashing Trump in the Michael Wolff book. And then showing how free of values he is, how full of baloney he is, after the book came out full of his negative quotes about Trump, Bannon issued a statement taking it back, in an effort to win back his power, but didn’t even have the decency to say he was sorry because he is not capable of doing so, just like his orange faced creation.
And yet despite quite a bit of evidence that Bannon is an anti-Semite, was the godfather of the anti-Semitic alt right movement, until this week ran the anti-Semitic Breitbart web site, Zionist Organization of America’s Morton Klein praised him, lamented that what Bannon said in the book has stripped him of all his powers. “If there is anyone, like Bannon, who is a strong supporter of Israel and a strong fighter against anti-Semitism and that person ends up having less influence on the administration, that is something that would sadden me.”
That a Jew like Klein could say such warm words about a creep like Bannon saddens me.
I’ll tell you what else saddens me. The Wolff book simply clarified and confirmed what we already knew. That Trump is a narcissistic, bratty, bullying child, with no values, who knows nothing, is spectacularly unfit to be president of the United States, is a morality free, vindictive, petty little person.
But that seems to matter not to all those right wing American Jews and right wing Israeli Jews who voted for him. And it matters even less to them since he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Okay, be happy about that if you want, but please don’t go meshuggah, don’t totally violate Jewish ideals about who we are to give honor to.
And yet one of the most influential Cabinet ministers in Israel is proposing to do just that. Yisrael Katz who is, get this, both minister of transportation and minister of intelligence (how’s that for a combination? Welcome to Israeli politics) has said he wants to put Trump’s name on a proposed new train station in the Old City, one that would bring tourists directly into the Jewish Quarter just a few hundred yards from the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
Katz, who sees himself as a future prime minister, calls building a railroad stop in the Old City the “most important national project being advanced today at the ministry of transport.” And he says he plans to name it for Trump “for his courageous and historic decision” and his “contribution in the strengthening of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.”
This is the Old City of Jerusalem, the holy city, we are talking about. We are talking about where the sacred Western Wall is located. And he wants to name it for Donald Trump?
I can understand if you’re a right winger like Katz that you like what Trump did about the whole Jerusalem is the capital of Israel thing, but to name something for Trump in one of the most holy places on earth, to attach his name to a spot where people will arrive to go to the Wall, to do so for someone who behaves as the Wolff book describes is beyond obscene. It’s pornographic chilul Hashem.
Have we so lost any sense of perspective, of history, of Jewish principles that because an ignorant, amoral, name calling Trump made a political move we like that we are going to name something in the Old City of the holy city for him? For Donald Trump?
Is there no end to the tushie kissing, is there no end to the ignoring of Jewish values and Jewish teachings, is there no end to not learning the moral lessons of Judaism, have we fallen so low that we will slap the name of a sexual harasser near the most sacred place in Judaism.
Maybe we should rename the Western Wall the Trump Wall. In today’s Jewish world, where real Jewish values seem to matter less and less, anything is possible.