Trump’s a Demagogue

It is astonishing that Mitchell Kaye, a devout Jew, believes that Donald Trump is good for Jews and good for America (“Trump Good for Jews, Israel and America,” Aug. 5). To the contrary, everything about the man is antithetical to the core values of Judaism and the American way.

Trump’s hateful exhortations are those of the classic demagogue. He plays to the fears and frustrations of people who see themselves as victims of a rigged economy. He attacks racial and religious minorities in service of the belief that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. He says he alone can serve the needs of the underclass. His self-styled image of a savior should set off alarm bells for all peace-loving people and particularly for Jews, who have a memory or an understanding of the tactics used in the Nazi takeover of Germany.

Trump is good for Jews? His values and practices are totally contrary to every aspect of Jewish ethics. He mocks the disabled, disparages women, would bar Muslims from entry into the United States because of their religion, would round up and deport 11 million Mexicans, and would build a wall to exclude people whom he regards as undesirable.

He condones strong-arm tactics against protesters who appear at his rallies.

Trump’s narcissism and instability render him unfit to serve as president. He is so emotionally fragile that he insulted the family of a Muslim Gold Star family because he was incensed that they criticized him. Trump unleashed a sexist attack against Megyn Kelly because she referred to his vile remarks about women who disagreed with him.

How would he react to inevitable disagreements with leaders of other countries? We must assume he would bully, revile and alienate them, thus exposing us all to a devastating loss of international friendship and respect. If he is engaged in bitter disputes with members of his own political party, can he reasonably be expected to negotiate effectively with leaders of foreign countries?

Trump has been exposed as a serial liar and unethical businessman who dazzles followers with promises that he cannot keep, then ditches them with the fallout. He is the subject of multiple claims and lawsuits alleging fraudulent and unethical business practices. Does a Jew want to identify with a man with his record and reputation?

Trump’s unstable and intemperate behavior during the current campaign dashes any hope that he would exercise cool and steady judgment in a moment of crisis. Would he have acted with the same patience and restraint exhibited by JFK if he had been president during the Cuban missile crisis? Can a loose cannon be entrusted with access to nuclear codes and other military secrets?

The American public, and Jews in particular, should be very worried about a Trump presidency. Let us hope and pray that it never comes about. Better yet, let’s be sure to vote.

— David F. Rock, Sandy Springs

 

Pro-Trump Taunts Disturbing

This article (“Trump Backers’ Anti-Semitic Taunts and Threats,” Aug. 5) greatly disturbs me. As a rabbi who supports Donald Trump, I say to writer Laura Silverman that I am one rabbi who will openly ask Trump’s people to reply to you with compassion and understanding. He has never met with me as I was promised, and I constantly defend him. But I fight the anti-Semites of the world, and my parents were in the concentration camps.

— Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, Edison, N.J.

 

Separate Settlements, Israel

The recent article in your publication (“Settler ‘Termites,’ ” Aug. 5) continues the lie that being critical of the illegal Israeli settlements is being critical of Israel.

Journalism is about truth. The truth will allow the Palestinian people their right to live in peace in their own country and for Israel to live in peace and security. And it will allow them to live side by side with each other with love and respect. That is all anyone asks for.

— Barry George, Austin, Texas

 

Israel’s True Story

Like Rep. Hank Johnson, many people have adopted a narrative painting the Palestinians as innocent victims of Israeli aggression (“Settler ‘Termites,’ ” Aug. 5). Unfortunately, Israel has been less effective than her enemies in telling the story of her rebirth.

Palestine was a sparsely populated, largely undeveloped region of the Ottoman Empire. Its small Jewish population descended from families who did not go into exile after the destruction of the Second Temple. That population began increasing in the late 18th century with the birth of modern Zionism. The Zionists bought land and increased its productivity.

Most Palestinian “refugees” are descended from families who settled in the area only after Zionist activity began improving its economy.

The Ottomans fought World War I on the losing side, and their empire collapsed. Great Britain was given control of Palestine by the League of Nations and used 78 percent of the land to create Transjordan. In 1947, the United Nations, as successor to the league, voted to partition the remaining 22 percent into a Jewish state and a second Arab state, a plan accepted by the Jews but not by the Arabs.

Saying that the Arabs of Palestine were Southern Syrians who didn’t need a state of their own, several Arab nations went to war. They did not succeed in preventing Israel’s rebirth, but Egypt did grab Gaza, while Transjordan took control of the Old City of Jerusalem as well as Judaea and Samaria (dubbed “the West Bank” by Transjordan, which changed its own name to Jordan).

The Arab-initiated war resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs. In the decade after the war, an equal (probably greater) number of Jews were forced from their homes in the Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East. The Jews were quickly absorbed and uplifted by Israel.

But the Arabs, most living within 100 miles of their birthplaces among people with whom they shared religion, language and ethnicity, found themselves designated as a unique group and denied citizenship and economic opportunity by most Muslim countries.

They and their descendants are the only refugee group allowed to pass the status from one generation to the next. They are also the only refugee group allowed to insist that the only solution to their plight is for them to be given the homes their forebears fled.

While Egypt and Jordan illegally occupied Gaza and the West Bank (1949 to 1967), no effort was made to establish a Palestinian state. Israel liberated the areas in 1967 after Jordan allied with Egypt and Syria in a war meant to destroy Israel. Israel’s offer to withdraw from much of the liberated territory in 1968 was rejected by the Arab League. Similarly, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rejected proposals for a state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank with shared governance in part of Jerusalem (2000/2001 and 2008).

Yet Abbas has no qualms in citing despair over the lack of progress toward a state as the excuse for attacks on Jews, a claim made all the more bizarre because he doesn’t intend to grant citizenship in the new state to the “refugees”; he insists that Israel must rehabilitate them within the Green Line (1949 armistice lines, also called the “pre-1967 borders”).

Clearly, Jewish “settlements” (on 2 percent of the disputed territory) are not the obstacle to resolving the conflict. They provide work for the Palestinian people and offer opportunities for Jews and Arabs to interact, a necessary first step toward creating “two states for two peoples.”

I urge AJT readers to do all they can to tell Israel’s story.

— Toby F. Block, Atlanta

 

Quote Johnson Accurately

I’m no big fan of Congressman Hank Johnson, and the AJT’s editorial in the Aug. 5 edition (“Settler ‘Termites’ ”) properly describes many of his woeful misunderstandings concerning Israel and the Palestinians. That said, he deserves to be quoted correctly.

While the AJT quoted Johnson accurately July 29 (“Rep. Johnson Sorry for Termite-Settler Remark”), its editorial Aug. 5 totally mischaracterizes Johnson’s termite reference. Unfortunately, other publications as well as national Jewish community leaders and organizations similarly mischaracterized his statement, most likely as result of an article published by the Washington Free Beacon with the headline “Congressman: Jewish Settlers Are Like Termites.” Johnson never said any such thing; he compared the settlements to termites, not the settlers themselves.

This is no minor distinction, and it’s only fair to remind everyone of what he actually said: “There has been a steady — almost like termites can get into a residence and eat it up before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself — there has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity and at an ever-increasing rate to the point where it has become alarming. … We’ve gotten to the point where the thought of a Palestinian homeland gets further and further removed from reality.”

While Johnson apologized for his “terrible metaphor,” the essence of his claim his undeniable and a fact that the settler movement would agree with, albeit with delight as opposed to alarm. I wholeheartedly agree that Johnson, and others who are critical of the occupation, should distance themselves from those who seek the end of Israel as a Jewish state and in particular those who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

But let us not fool ourselves. While it may be true that a peace agreement with the Palestinians is not imminent, it is the stated goal of the settler movement to ensure the nonviability of any two-state solution, a solution advocated by the Israeli and U.S. governments.

Let’s also remember that Yitzhak Rabin himself discussed settlements in terms that most of us would deem anti-Semitic had he been referring to the settlers themselves. In 1976, he analogized the “settlement movement” to “a cancer in the social and democratic tissue of the state of Israel.”

Shai Robkin, Sandy Springs