Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Orthodox Jewish Support of the President

The President addressing Orthodox Jews at a New York fundrasier (VIN)
It is rather well known that the President is supported by the vast majority of Orthodox Jews. I believe the figure is about 80%. I assume that’s because of polices that have been more favorable to Israel than by any their President at any time in history. But I am nevertheless still surprised at how enthusiastic that support is.

A video available at YWN shows the President addressing  group of Orthodox Jewish Americans (mostly Charedim) at a fundraiser where it looked like he was practically being deified by them! The MC of that event gave the President an actual blessing using God’s name (i.e. not HaShem). He then translated it to the obvious delight of the President.  The President then spoke to this group of Orthodox Jews touting some of those accomplishments. And the crowd seemed unable to get enough of him.  

OK. I get it. Any strong supporter of Israel; religious freedom; with a politically conservative leaning would deem his polices worthy of such praise. I even understand why they might want the President to feel that support and contribute to his re-election. But at the same time I sensed that this support was more than just a show. It was real. They LOVE this man. I believe that the enthusiasm of this group of about 400 Orthodox Jews is representative of the 80% that support him

However, his personal behavior; his rhetoric; his appeal to racists; his constant lying; the smearing of his enemies; and more…  is anathema to Jewish ethics. The idea of cheating on his wife and consorting with prostitutes and then paying them off to keep quiet tells us all we need to know about his values. I need not go on about his deplorable behavior, it is well documented and ongoing. I therefore find that kind of real enthusiasm somewhat perplexing. They seem to be completely blind to his flaws.

These mostly Charedim seemed elated - waiting for the President to address them. 

(It should also be noted that in Israel, it is not only Orthodox Jews that support him. As the President noted, if he were to run for Prime Minister he would probably win! That means even non Orthodox and center-left Israeli Jews would have to vote for him. And they probably would!)

The question is, how can a religious Jew see him that way? I know his polices on Israel and protecting religious right are deserving of that support. But what I see in this video is loving this man without any reservation. As though he could not do anything wrong. There seems to be a willful ignorance about the President’s obvious flaws. Flaws that in any other context would be condemned as un-Jewish… even used as an example of the kind of‘Goy’ that we should not emulate. I saw none of that. It is almost as though they were saying this is the kind of ‘Goy’ we should emulate! This does not go unnoticed by our children!

Of course they were not saying that. But neither have I ever seen anyone doing anything other than cheering this man. Just like his political base does. The same base that got him elected in 2016. I guess the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are part of that base. 

Just to be clear about my own view on this (which I have stated many times) I too appreciate his policies. Not only those that affect Jews and Israel directly but his economic policies. Which affect all Americans in a positive way. But at the same time one must recognize his flaws. This is not happening. To his political base which apparently includes 80% of Orthodox Jewry he has no flaws at all. And as an Orthodox Jew that concerns me.