Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Argentinian President-elect Milei's Affinity for Judaism

President-elect Javier Milei visitng the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite (JTA)
Javier Milei has just been elected president of Argentina. He has been described as a right wing  fanatic by his detractors. And has generated  intense criticism by advocating radical, provocative policies. Like solving their inflation problem by abandoning Argentinian currency and replacing it with the American dollar. Don't know if that will work. But I like the idea since it would strengthen the American dollar’s dominance over world currencies. But I digress.

What fascinates me most about Milei is his strong affinity for Judaism. So strong in fact that he expressed a desire to convert from the Catholicism in which he was raised. He also has strong ties with Lubavitch. One of the first things he did as President–elect was to visit the gravesite of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe.

I don’t know about anyone else. But I like the idea of having someone like that running a country with so many Jews in it. What about the fear that his right wing policies will hurt the liberal democratic nature of that characterizes western democracies? I can’t answer that question.  But if you are a religious Jew that believes in the values of the Torah., I think you should be pleased by his election.

This will of course not sit well with liberals .And there are plenty of liberal Orthodox Jews who are no doubt aghast at someone like Milei who they might see as an undemocratic autocrat that will undermine any semblance of democracy in that country. 

But still, why would any Orthodox Jew be upset at someone whose values are so close to Jewish values?

As I often say my political views I lean conservative. The reason for that is because most conservative values are in line with Orthodox Jewish values  like abortion rights and LGBTQ rights..If you are an Orthodox Jew, why would you not support the candidate whose views are closesst (even if not identical) to your own?

Do Orthodox Jews on the left feel his politicly conservative policies outweigh his strong affinity for Judaism? Would they reject him for that? Doe the anti authoritarianism that is the hallmark of liberalism mean they reject him no matter what?  

The truth after all is that Judaism is an authoritarian religion. Those of us who believe that the essence of Judaism is the Torah are by definition authoritarian. As believers, we follow a set of laws whether we like them or not.  It’s true that there are various different interpretations of the Torah which allows for legitimate differing views about what exactly the Torah requires of us. That has been true ever since post biblical times. The point however is that at the core the Torah is authoritarian.

I think this helps explain the massive degree of Orthodox Jewish support for former President Trump (And if the polls are anywhere near correct he will return to the Oval Office in 2024). They see his politics with respect to religious values being far closer to Orthodox Judaism than are the policies of those to his left. 

The sad reality of this is that they don’t seem to care about anything else. There are many serious issues with Trump that disqualify him from high office. But if not for that I actually liked his mostly conservative policies and would vote for him.   

The same thing can be said for Javier Milei. As far as I know he does not bring the disqualifying baggage baggage to his office that Trump would. So if I were an Argentinians Jew, I would probably have voted for him and would be proud to have contributed to his victory at the polls.