Friday, September 15, 2017

Embarrassing the President is Wrong

Image from Arutz Sheva
I am completely disgusted by their behavior. Which in this case has nothing to do with Judaism.

Although they might claim it does. Their religious beliefs revolve primarily around one issue -social justice. This is the only Mitzvah they place any real value on. And the ‘they’ in that sentence is heterodox rabbis.

Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbis eat, live, and breath social justice. Heterodox movements are united. Social Justice is at the core of their beliefs. Those that do not see social justice their way are painted as heartless Neanderthals who might  as well be racists, bigots and antisemites.

The latest victim of their distorted views is the President. Now I am not a fan of the current President. I did not vote for him. And I agree that a lot of his rhetoric (mostly in the form of tweets) is foolish, insulting, misleading half truths, or sometimes just plain lies. He is (as I have said many times) an embarrassment to this country. But as I have also said, he is none of the things he is being painted as by heterodoxy. Nor directly, perhaps. But clrealy by inference through their actions. The President is not an antisemite, nor a racist, nor a bigot, nor an antisemite. Although he does attract them. Ironically, they see him the same way heterodox rabbis do.

The latest public demonstration of their antipathy for this President - is the rejection of the traditional conference call made by the President of the United States. Like his predecessor, President Trump wants to wish the Jewish people a Happy Jewish New Year directly through the rabbis of all major Jewish denominations. 

Heterodox rabbis – almost in unison have said ‘no thank you’ to the President because of what they claim is his ‘lack of moral leadership in the wake of Charlottesville’.  I agree that the President’s initial reaction to that event was less than perfect. But he is not guilty of what he is accused of: Not condemning the Nazis who protested in Charlottesville using their typical antisemitic rhetoric. The fact is that the President did condemn them by condemning racism and bigotry in all its forms.

What he did not do is specify the Nazi protesters in Charlottesville. Which was foolish but not surprising. He probably thought his initial comments condemning all racism was enough. But then added that there was violence on both sides.  That was seen by many people as equating Nazis to those that came to protest them.

It should be clear to anyone with a half a brain that the President does not equate Nazis to those who protest them. What the President actually did (rather badly to say the least) is try to say that there was- violence on both sides. That is a fact. The anti Nazi protesters came there for a fight and the Nazis were happy to oblige them. One of those Nazis took the fight to a higher level and rammed his car into the crowd killing one of the anti Nazi protesters. Which the president also condemned.

After almost universal and understandable criticism of the President for his intial seeming tepid and equivocating response, he later issued a clear statement condemning the Nazis by name without any equivocation. Only later to revert again back to blaming both sides and worse - claiming that there were good people on both sides.

The President’s critics went apoplectic after that. How in heaven’s name can anyone say that there is such a thing as a good Nazi?!  That is where their thinking ended.

I see it differently. The President was clearly not communicating what he meant.  I firmly believe that when he said there are people on both sides that are good, he wasn’t talking about Nazis. He was talking about people that were opposed to removing the statue of Confederate Icon, General Robert E. Lee. That is what generated the Nazi protest. There were good people that were opposed to that too (albeit not joining the Nazis in their antisemitic version of that protest). That’s who the President meant.  In no way did he – or would he ever - say that there is such a thing as good Nazis.

That conclusion seems pretty obvious to me. That anyone can think for even a half a second that a man whose daughter went through an Orthodox conversion to Judaism, and whose most valued adviser is his Jewish son-in-law  - is an antisemite is about the most laughable thing I can imagine.  

Not only does he rely heavily on the advice of his Jewish son-in-law, there are more Jews (and more observant Jews) in his inner circle than any other President in history! Not to mention that his choice for Ambassador to Israel was an observant openly pro Israel Jew. If Trump is an anti Semite, we could use a lot more like him.

None of this makes me regret voting against him. Nor do I agree with some of his polices. But one has to be fair in assessing the truth. Heterodox rabbis are blind to the truth because they do not agree with his politics. And they have great cover in hating him since he is such an easy target.

When they do agree with a President’s politics, they rarely criticize him. They overlook or spin any controversial view he expresses in positive ways. This was the case with former President Obama. As illustrated by Arutz Sheva
This is in sharp contrast to their silence about Obama's non-veto of a UN resolution condemning Israel, the first time the US withheld its veto in comparable situations. 
I am therefore very happy that all the representatives of all the mainstream Orthodox institutions have accepted his invitation. He will have a conference call with them, wishing them a happy Jewish New Year.

What about the vast majority of Jews in this country that are represented by these heterodox rabbis? I’m sure they support their rabbis’ decision to skip the call. Most non observant Jews that belong to one of these denominations have the same liberal approach to Judaism that their rabbis do. Judaism equals social justice. When they see anyone violating that tenet, in their minds they have violated what Judaism stands for.

The problem is that even though the non Orthodox demographic is by far the largest one - with as many as 90% of Jews in this country not Orthodox… this statistic will not last long. Their demise is already happening. A lot more quickly than anyone would have realized just a few years ago. Polls have shown that of the 90% of Jews that are not Orthodox - many  becoming increasingly secular. Intermarriage is no longer an issue for them. They are fine with it. Nor do they even care that they are themselves Jews. 

I predict that all the scrambling of their rabbis  to remedy that will be for nought. That ship has sailed. For better or worse, these movements are doomed. They will go the way of other historical ‘movements’ that veered away from rabbinic Judaism and have failed. They may not realize it yet. But their grandchildren (who many end up not even being Jewish) will. It is only a matter of time. This has nothing to do with my feelings about them. It is just plain fact.

Clearly the only denomination that will remain standing is the only one that is growing. Orthodoxy.  I am therefore proud of all of my fellow Orthodox rabbis that have accepted the President’s invitation. The President has correctly snubbed heterodox rabbis who said in advance that they would not accept an invitation if it were offered.

Orthodox rabbis understand that the President is not only NOT an antisemite, he is a philosemite.  He has proven that many times by who he chooses as his friends and advisers. They also understand that he is the President and that even if they might disagree with him on certain matters, they still respect the office and therefore the man that was duly elected to occupy that office. It’s that simple.