The Jewish community is polarized about the Trump election and his accomplishments. Some with extreme views on the left suffer from PTSD (POTUS Traumatic Stress Disorder). Some with extreme views on the right accept his crude language and prior behavior.
President Trump deserves credit for implementing almost all of the promises he made during his campaign. The extreme left disagrees with the content of the promises. Elections have consequences.
Many Jews in New York do not understand that President Trump does not represent just the Northeastern or Western parts of the United States. His messages about jobs, national security, energy independence, religious liberty, law enforcement, assistance to veterans, increased support to the military, fair trade, second amendment rights, federal environmental over-reaching, unrestrained growth of the Federal Bureaucracy, misrepresentation and exaggeration by the verbal and written media, degradation of the American Flag and what it represents resonated with the Central and Southern States that put him in office. After the election, continual grousing by some Federal Agencies and Members of Congress who have tried to challenge his election and undercut the legality of the electoral vote contributed to the polarization. I believe that Rabbi Schonfeld understands this.
Rabbi Kornblau (in last week’s QJL: “Orthodox #NeverTrumpers Not At All ‘Crazy’”) offers no evidence that President Trump is a danger to our nation. He does not define what he means by “danger to our nation” unless he refers to moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, which lessens the chance for an agreement between Israel and the PLO. He offers no evidence that Trump has endangered the environment, undermined our intelligence gathering capacity and law enforcement agencies by exposing corruption at the highest levels of the DOJ. President Trump is allowed to criticize and insult the free press just as they do to him. Rabbi Kornblau offers no specific examples of violations of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. President Trump donates his annual salary of $400,000 to charity. He transferred his hotel businesses to a trust managed by his children. Does Rabbi Kornblau suggest that wealthy people should not run for president? This belief violates the tenth commandment about coveting.
Where was Rabbi Kornblau when President Clinton mistreated women who were further degraded by his wife, Hillary? Trump appointed women to executive positions in his many companies before being elected POTUS. He appointed women to executive positions, such as the star Nikki Haley, in the Federal Government. Rabbi Kornblau believes his own sense of justice and fairness is aligned with the Torah but offers no evidence and violates the ninth commandment about bearing false witness.
President Trump speaks the language of working men and women who have been largely ignored by the past administrations. His language may be insulting and his tweets are highly unusual and at times embarrassing. But we know what he is thinking and he doesn’t try to hide his feelings. He is transparent. Focusing by the media on his one-time verbal gaffes does not describe policies. Continual focus on the invented exaggerated evils does not proffer solutions to problems. Continually complaining about invented and exaggerated fears without solutions characterizes the extreme polarized left. Rabbi Kornblau offers no solutions.
Opposing Brett Kavanaugh for membership on SCOTUS by the extreme left is a good example of this.
I was pleased to read Rabbi Kornblau’s courageous article. I was glad to confirm that I am sane, despite being an Orthodox Jew who fears the destructive effect on our country of the Trump agenda.
I would add a comment of my own, appropriate to the Pirkei Avos season. At the beginning of the fourth chapter of Avos, Ben Zoma defines the three qualities that are prerequisites to becoming a prophet: chacham, gibor, and ashir. Donald Trump possesses not an iota of any of these qualities. He takes advice from no one and is confident that he is an expert in all matters. He is a glutton in all matters and is relentless in the pursuit of wealth.
If you will object that the mishnah addresses only Jews, I would reply that this is not so; prophecy is not limited to one people, hence the prerequisite qualities of character are to be hoped for universally, even if prophecy is extremely rare.
I commend Rabbi Barry Kornblau on his column (Orthodox #NeverTrumpers Not At All “Crazy”). It’s sad that today’s politics have descended to bitter partisanship rather than debating policies and politicians on their merits. Indeed President Trump has done a lot of good for Israel, but as the adage goes, “Bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things.” Only time will tell if Trump is “good” or “bad”; it is inarguable that like every president before him, he has done some things good and some things bad.
Kew Gardens Hills
To Rabbi Barry Kornblau (Orthodox #NeverTrumpers Not At All “Crazy”): Okay, you’re not crazy. But you are foolish. Firstly, who else, besides Trump, is waiting in the wings to save the country? I hadn’t heard that Lincoln or Churchill was available. If Trump’s presidency is destroyed, who comes in? The party of Ocasio-Cortez, Keith Ellison, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker? I don’t think the Democrats are going to nominate JFK any time soon, so those are the options.
Next, during the years of insults from Obama and Clinton, did you declare yourself as never Obama/Clinton? Trump is occasionally vulgar. But he’s never said, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” or that any Iran deal will have “anytime, anywhere inspections.”
Finally, it’s incredible that you depict major geopolitical policies of the Trump administration, especially shifting Iran policy from appeasement to confrontation, as matters of “concern” to the Jewish people, as if it’s a discussion of an eruv. I’m not sure where you were during the past 30 years, but Iran is at war with both the US and Israel and is responsible for killing and maiming many thousands of US troops. Trump’s Iran shift is the most moral and consequential new policy by a US president in many years, and you should be overflowing with gratitude and admiration. Instead, you prefer to virtue signal because at one time Trump used vulgar language. You are fortunate to be a wealthy New York City rabbi rather than a US or IDF infantryman tasked with confronting the Iran threat. If you were, I expect you’d feel differently about Trump.
This letter is in response to Rabbi Schonfeld’s article, “How Crazy Are We?”
Are we supposed to be so pragmatic, so realpolitik in our assessment of people? Shouldn’t we at least be embarrassed by our association with someone of such coarse character, even if we gain so much by doing so?
The problem of valuing the aid of someone totally bereft of basic virtues (midos) as the current president is that his self-interest can overwhelm any long-term plans that have been in our favor until then. For example, say PM Netanyahu said something that offended President Trump. Would the man who neglected his campaign (and advisors) for two weeks to go after the Khans, a couple who lost a son fighting for our country, simply let that go? Or would the whole country suffer? (What would happen to the US economy if it were someone at, for example, Goldman Sachs who offended him?) Would he make a bad deal if it would impress a sufficiently good-looking woman? I mean, these are all mistakes he’s made in the past.
I am not saying that we should simply abandon a useful relationship. But we should be holding our noses about it. And when you put eggs in a viper’s basket, take precautions that they don’t get eaten.