We had a dream! We had a dream…that one day there would be a leader of the free world who would be totally understanding of Israel’s position as it struggles to survive against its countless brutal Arab enemies. We had a dream…that there would be a leader who saw the PLO and Hamas for what they are – terrorist organizations who are only interested in seeing Israel and its citizens destroyed. We had a dream…that there would be a country whose leadership would call out the United Nations for its sheer hypocrisy in continuously voting for one-sided condemnations against Israel. We had a dream…that there would be a US president who would pardon a Jew who was issued a punishment of imprisonment way beyond the severity of his crime committed. We had a dream…that we had a president who was surrounded by proud Orthodox Jews and appointed them to high positions of influence in the Middle East. We had a dream…that there would be a president bold enough to do away with the disastrous Iranian Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). We had a dream…that at last there would be a POTUS who would finally do what other presidents were too feckless to do: to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and follow through with moving his country’s embassy there.
Yes, we had lots of dreams. And these dreams have all been realized, thanks to the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
But liberal Jews can’t accept it. He is tough on Muslim immigration from countries with records of harboring terrorists. He is tough on illegal (yes, that’s the real word, not “undocumented”) immigration to protect our borders. Who cares what he’s done for Jews; he’s not nice to others. After all, we are the people that are dedicated to “Tikun Olam,” so we must therefore care more about others than ourselves. (See a great article on the topic by Jonathan Neumann in the June 23, 2018, New York Post, “Liberal Jews Are Destroying Their Own Religion.”)
Last week, three major Orthodox organizations issued a public letter excoriating the Trump administration and Attorney General Sessions for its “zero tolerance” policy regarding illegal immigration even at the cost of separating families. Two of the organizations incredibly signed on with 26 other Jewish organizations, many of whom, such as T’ruah and Bend the Arc, are extreme leftist groups dedicated to the destruction of our religion the way we know it, as well as supporters of BDS and “End the Occupation.” The others we just garden variety anti-Torah groups. It was hurtful to see two well-established Orthodox rabbinic and lay organizations being listed with the others.
I ask you: What other ethnic group would heap criticism upon a champion of its own cause the way the Jews do?
What compounds the problem is that I have unsuccessfully searched for a release from any of the three organizations commending Trump and Ambassador Nikki Haley for withdrawing from the United Nations’ notoriously anti-Israel “Human Rights Council” just last week. Has President Trump at this time become so toxic that the Jewish community cannot bring itself to commend the president when he has over and over again stuck out his neck for us? It makes you wonder at times why he even bothers. All the good that he has done for Jews and Israel seems not to matter to the average Jew today as much as the “social justice” issues do.
I ask you: What other ethnic group would heap criticism upon a champion of its own cause the way the Jews do? This is an awful pattern that we must break. But I’m afraid that’s a daunting task. As explained by Mr. Neumann in his article, liberalism has supplanted Torah-based Judaism as being the new religious force for most left-leaning Jews today. We can’t expect Jews to be guilty of heresy. This is plain crazy!
Particularly upsetting is that we see an increasing amount of yarmulke-clad young Jews joining the fray. In the accompanying photo, you will notice the young men and women appear not to be crazies on the fringes, but very much looking like kids you and I know. You will also notice that their placards are mostly anti-Trump, although their cause is officially for the sake of Mexican immigrants. We have seen yarmulkes, as well, saying Kaddish for the dead Hamas terrorists who were killed by the IDF in defense of residents and tourists in Israel.
My friends, we are in trouble. I have been writing in these pages for years that we must overhaul our educational system in our yeshivah and day school system. Our kids must develop an historical, but more importantly, an emotional attachment to Torah, the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel.
How crazy are we? Right now, very. But with great effort by our rabbinic, lay, and educational leaders, it’s not too late to get us back to normal. If you will, it is no dream!
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.