Friday, August 24, 2018

Crying Wolf

Rabbi YY Rubinstein
We are at war.

Actually we aren’t. But sometimes it seems that way. The differences between the right and the left could not be more stark than in how each side views the President. So strident are the views of each that in my view both are blinded to reality. If you are politically left wing, Trump cannot be credited with anything good. If you are on the right, Trump cannot be blamed for anything bad. Neither of which is the reality. 

Of course there are exceptions. Especially on the right. Some actually do see his faults. But the right sees the merit of his policies overriding those faults. While the left does not concede any of his polices to have merit. Or attribute anything positive to people or factors other than Trump or his policies. 

The best example of that is Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. The right could not be happier with them. The left is fit to be tied about them.

I don’t recall this country ever being so divided in my lifetime. Although there always has always been a right and a left, the divisions were not as strident and antagonistic against each other as they are now. 

The question is, how does this affect the Jewish people? Where do Jews lie on the political spectrum with respect to Trump, the right, and the left? 

Well, its complicated. Most Jews in this country tend to side with the Left on most political issues and on how they view the President. On the other hand most Orthodox Jews side with Trump and the right on those issues. 

Of course there are exceptions. Of which I am one. I try and see the truth about Trump. I see the good (mostly in his policies) as well as the bad (mostly in his character).  As noted in the past, his character is so bad that his good polices do not justify him being President in my view. But I refuse to spin good things into bad just because Trump was responsible for them. And I will give him credit when he deserves it. Which the Left never does.

Because of the world’s political climate (much of it based on the ‘Trump phenomenon’) there are some who currently see the Jewish people in a time of danger. Comparing our times to those of Germany in the 30s.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein has expressed that view in a Jewish Press article. He says we need to see the handwriting on the wall  which the Jews of 1930s Germany failed to do and learn the lessons of history. He is not the only one that thinks along these lines. The late Rebbeztin Esther Jungries said much the same thing many years ago. I have seen others make the same kind of observation.

Of course it is important to see the future through the eyes of the past. There is after all truth to what late 19th and early 20th century philosopher, George Santayana said: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

Yes we must all be vigilant and learn history’s lessons. But the examples that Rabbi Rubinstein give to make his case, don’t quite make his case. Although having British roots might make his views somewhat understandable in light of what’s going on in England. 

Do Jews have anything to fear along the lines of the Holocaust there? I doubt it. But it’s not too hard to see why he might say that in light of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. A  Party that could very well win the next election and put Corbyn in the prime minister’s seat. 

Corbin’s views have been widely condemned by all segments of the Jewish community because of his tolerance of antisemitism in his party - and for his rabidly anti Israel perspective to the point of honoring Palestinians terrorists. Which he was recently recorded doing.

That said, I do not believe that the UK is anywhere near a Holocaust. Even if Corbyn does become prime minister. Even though I believe Europe has latent antisemisim in its blood, we are too close to the Holocaust for it to rear its ugly head now. Besides, Corbyn is socialist. Not a Nazi. The danger lies only in how his leadership will effect the UK’s traditional support of Israel (such that it is). It will surely become non existent or more likely antagonistic. The UK will end up supporting things like BDS under Corbyn. 

But there will be no pogroms. And no Kristallnachts. I assume that kind of antisemitism is abhorrent to a socialist like Corbyn. For now Jews in England are safe from that kind of persecution. It just will not happen under the current political climate no matter how anti Israel Corbyn is. Corbyn is not Hitler. Not even close.

But then Rabbi Rubinstein goes a bit further and says that the United States is in the same boat. Referring to the Democratic party as Labour’s sister party in America, he points to the anti Israel things happening there. Such as the choice of an anti Israel candidate for congress from Queens, Ocasio-Cortez as a prime example of where the party is headed.

I should add that Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democrat opposing indicted California congressman, Duncan Hunter - is of Mexican-Palestinian heritage and spent part of his childhood in Gaza. He is also the grandson of an architect of the 1972 Olympic massacre. 

And then there is the Democrat running unopposed for congress in Michigan, Rashida Tlaib. Her views on Israel are so bad that even J-Street had to withdraw their support. 

Here is some more evidence Rabbi Rubinstein cites as handwriting on the wall: 
Then there is the Democratic Black Caucus, many of whose members were photographed in a Corbynesque wreath-laying display of anti-Semitism. Many of them lined up to hug and shake hands with American arch-anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan – including, it has emerged, a certain Barak Obama.
The political debate in American has devolved into tribalism and blind loyalty. In the most extreme examples, on college campuses, even a faint suspicion that one harbors a smidgen of sympathy with the “other” tribe is enough to unleash a level of persecution that Senator Joseph McCarthy would have envied.
Once more, the writing has started appearing on American walls – and on my Facebook page. Orthodox Jews are stereotyped as being the quintessential antithesis of all things “New Left.” We “all” support Trump. We oppose all of the most sacred verities of progressive politics, “trans rights” and all the rest. I am warned in chilling terms that there will be a “reckoning.”
Concerning, Yes. And as noted, I agree that the political debate in American has devolved into tribalism and blind loyaltyBut handwriting on the wall of an impeding Holocaust? Based on some sort of underlying antisemitism? Hardly.

Rabbi Rubenstein does more or less accurately describe some of the things going on in Democratic Party. But it does not even remotely resemble 1930s Germany. Or even what is going on in the UK. Not unless you consider the Democratic Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer another Corbyn.  

Schumer is the Senate minority leader . He is a proud Jew that has not hidden that fact. He even sided with Republicans against his own party and opposed the nuclear deal with Iran. His party did not attempt to deny him its pending (at the time) leadership.  

And who is Ocasio-Cortez’s mentor? Bernie Sanders. She shares his socialist political philosophy. Now one may disagree with Sanders, especially on Israel – as I do. But to say he is antisemitic is ridiculous. He never hides his Judaism and often cites his time working on a Kibbutz in Israel. Hard to call either of them antisemitic. 

And then there are the Trump supporters. The vast majority of which are fundamentalist Christians. If that bodes ill for Jews in America you wouldn't know it. That most Orthodox Jews support Trump is seen as a plus by them. Orthodox Jews are embraced by them.

Meanwhile the vast majority of Jews in this country hate Trump. And that suits the left just fine. They are happy to count any Jew like that as one of their own. In fact the Democratic Party has many Jews that are members of both houses of Congress. Some of them prominent, like Schumer. There are more Jews in the liberal Democratic party in congress that hate Trump equally with their fellow non Jewish Democrats than there are Jews serving in congress from the Conservative Republican Party that love Trump. (Are there any?)

This is hardly a prescription for a potential Holocaust.

Now as I always say, we have to be vigilant and keep our radar up. History has shown us that we must. My eyes and ears are constantly attuned to anything antisemitic going on in the world. But even with all the angst over a Democratic party increasingly hostile to Israel, we are a long way from seeing any kind of handwriting like that on the wall.