Showing Appreciation For Blessings From Trump

Showing Appreciation For Blessings From Trump

By Martin Oliner

President Donald Trump holds a proclamation to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence watches. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last weekend’s Torah portion deals with the blessings and curses of the Jewish people.

Reading through the blessings and curses, it is remarkable to see how each and every one of the curses has unfortunately come true, and thankfully, nearly all the blessings have as well.

A notable exception is that we are still waiting for G-d’s promise of peace in the Land of Israel. We will never give up our hope that God will keep His promise and that peace will be achieved.

As Jews, we are commanded to emulate G-d. That means that just as G-d keeps His promises, so must we. In fact, we must be so careful that when we make promises, we traditionally add the words “G-d-willing” in English or the Hebrew words “bli neder,” which literally means, “without taking a vow.”

In a world where promises are thrown out with no intention of ever being kept, seeing promises implemented nowadays is a breath of fresh air. Witnessing them maintained by a politician is even a cause for celebration.

Throughout the American presidential election campaign, President Donald Trump issued promise after promise to Jewish leaders. He said he would end the international delegitimization of Israel, abandon the terrible Iran deal, and move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Regardless of the president’s past behavior and domestic policies, one can hope that even the most liberal American Jews could show him the appreciation for demonstrating his commitment to Israel and the Jewish people

He kept the first promise by sending Nikki Haley to the United Nations to fight against the institution being used for disproportionate Israel-bashing while ignoring the obvious abuses of some of the neighbors of the Jewish state. His administration stopped accusing Israel of occupying its own land.

The second promise was kept last Tuesday, when Trump officially nixed the Iran deal. In doing so, he cited the evidence provided by Israeli intelligence agencies, which was elucidated to the world by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his speech, President Trump said he wanted to send Iran a critical message that the United States no longer makes empty promises, and when he makes promises, he keeps them.

President Trump kept his third promise on Monday, when our embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. In doing so, he set himself apart from the many American presidents who made the same exact promise to Israel and to American Jews and failed to keep it.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the embassy is near the path that Abraham took to Jerusalem when he was on his way to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham demonstrated the kind of commitment and faith that President Trump has been showing since he took office.

Rewarding Abraham for that commitment, G-d blessed him that his seed would be multiplied like the stars and the sand, and that his descendants would inherit the cities of their enemies – similar blessings to what the Jews would later be promised in this week’s Torah portion.

President Trump also deserves to be blessed for his commitment. That commitment was reinforced by American ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a proud religious Zionist and vocal Israel supporter, whose positive influence on the president must not be taken for granted. He must be commended for his successful efforts.

Deputy Minister Michael Oren said, following the Iran speech, that the president’s announcement represented a chance for renewed Jewish unity after past rifts on the issue. The Jerusalem embassy move is an even greater unifying force for the people of Israel and Diaspora Jewry.

Regardless of one’s feelings about the president’s past behavior and domestic policies, one can hope that even the most liberal American Jews could show him the appreciation for demonstrating his commitment to Israel and the Jewish people so decisively.

That appreciation is called in Hebrew hakaras ha’tov, meaning, “recognition of the good.” We must recognize the good we received by President Trump keeping his promises.

If we show enough of that appreciation, perhaps Israel will be even more worthy of the blessings predicted in the Torah portion that have already come true and also the ultimate true peace.

By Martin Oliner