This glorious morning, July 20, 2016/14 Tamuz 5776, is the beginning of another historic day here in my beloved Cleveland, Ohio. After rising very early to attend a presentation at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland by Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, I am now in my sunroom. Before sitting with my computer, I filled the birdfeeders that I circle my home and I watered my plants which are quite thirsty due to this hot, dry summer. As a result, I am surrounded by the sound as birds of all kinds as they tweet and twitter in a sacred symphony With Mother Nature’s orchestra providing the background music, before Day Three of the RNC begins in earnest, I offer my reflections on my time in downtown Cleveland yesterday evening and my time in the eastern suburb of Beachwood this morning.
Once again I rode the RTA, which stands for Regional Transit Authority (correction from prior blog), downtown and once again, attempted to engage with other passengers on the train. Unfortunately, yesterday’s fellow northeast Ohioans were not as friendly and I felt a visceral chill as it became clear that we saw the world through different glasses. After disembarking at Tower City, I walked down Euclid Avenue directly to E. 4th Street where I knew I would have a front row seat for the political carnival which surrounds the RNC. Meeting up with my fellow activist friend Brynna, we mingled and chatted and celebrated our fabulous Democracy. Despite the offensive language, the utter lack of civility and the filth that has become the accepted norm of our political discourse thanks to Donald Trump, as a political scientist and artist/activist, I am completely engaged in the political theater that is this political convention.
Unlike Monday, I stayed away from planned rallies and demonstrations but witnessed several encounters between demonstrators and police. It is clear that the massive law enforcement presence is designed to keep everyone safe. Simply put, that is the essential function of the police power of the state. Those who understand our Federal System know that the 50 States retain police power – however, there is our national guard and our US armed forces which represent the military power of our national government. Those who spend time navigating life between the United States and Israel know that in Israel, there really is no distinction between the police per se and the military.
In our Jewish State, we are used to seeing soldiers and policemen guarding our comings and goings. It is quite odd and frankly of concern to see such a show of force in my beloved Cleveland during these days. But the tenor and tone of the Trumpacolypse has unleashed very ugly strands of anger. Couple that with Ohio’s open carry law – yes, I know that a lot of delegates are holding their weapons. Again, in Israel, the threat is so real that carrying a gun is a matter of survival; until recently, here in the US, carry a gun was a constitutional right that became as important as the right to vote, the right to free expression, the right to freedom of religious expression. We can thank the NRA for that development. I also thank all the law enforcement that have joined together to keep us safe in Cleveland during these days.
On the way home I chatted with a mom and her son who despite his obvious developmental disability, had recently graduated from John Carrol University here in University Heights. Michael was so excited to talk to someone like me who understood politics, history and who, thanks to my daughter Sarah, had the patience to meet him where he was. Across from me was a young Jewish woman from Milwaukee who is now getting her Masters at Columbia, covering the convention as a young journalist. And then there was the charming couple from Australia who were here to take in the experience. Again, I am just loving that Cleveland is the focus of the world’s attention, literally the Vortex of Democracy.
I was delighted to learn that Amb. Ron Dermer was taking time out of his diplomatic schedule to address the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. I cut my teeth as an activist in my Federation work; I was trained to be an Israeli activist through my Federation work; I have had many opportunities to be a player in the American democratic system because of my Federation work. I knew that I would have the opportunity to raise the issues that are the core of The Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Project and raise them I did! To the surprise of no one in the room, I challenged the Ambassador during his response in an impassioned yet respectful way. He absolutely heard the concern I expressed and promised that The Great Kotel Compromise is still of utmost importance to Prime Minister Netanyahu. There were a lot of Clevelanders in the room who heard the Ambassador make that statement. To have that moment this week, in the midst of the RNC, was truly a dance of my identity as an American Jewish woman. How fortunate I am to live at a time in Jewish history when such a conversation can happen in my own backyard.
One last thought about what is here in my own backyard. On Richmond Rd., which is the main north/south road in Beachwood, is The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. There is currently an exhibit there called, “Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann.” I wonder if anyone working on the Trump Campaign has visited the exhibit. Maybe someone should suggest to Jared Kushner and his wife that they visit the exhibit before taking to the campaign trail. It is no coincidence that the Maltz’s high tech sign is screaming ADOLF EICHMANN during the Trumpacolypse. No, this is a sacred synchronicity if I ever saw one. Jews for Trump – remember, your history and look around at the company you are keeping. And if you have time while you are here in Cleveland, pay a visit to our wonderful Maltz Museum and remind yourselves of the Danger of a Demagogue. And remember, tweets and twitter are no way to run a country – rather, tweets and twitters should belong to the birds.