Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. As Jews we are, or at least, should be, very familiar with words such as these. So what should we have learnt from the following?
At times of difficulty, when economies are struggling, when immigration is high, when radical ideologies are on the rise, someone brash, loud and straight-talking comes along banging his fist on the table and promising a much brighter future if we follow his no nonsense plan that involves scapegoating certain people because, as far as he’s concerned, they are part of the problem.
Clearly, the lesson we should learn there is, don’t be fooled by the person making these promises. They are dangerous, not to be trusted and will only make things worse, much, much worse.
So how anyone in their right mind can even begin to contemplate supporting Donald Trump is beyond my comprehension. But when it comes to Jews supporting him, I am almost at a loss for words.
And yet, just the other week, in this paper, a Jewish politician did just that, solely, it would seem, because of Trump’s support for Israel and Jewish causes.
This is so insular, blinkered and close-minded, it makes my blood boil.
Let’s not care that Trump is racist, misogynist, rude and entirely inexperienced as a politician, he supports us, so that’s okay.
Well, here’s another lesson from history: dangerous lunatics will say anything to get in to power and then do the opposite, or to be more precise, whatever they want, once they get in to power.
So, just for the sake of argument, even if we were prepared to forget all the racism, misogyny, rudeness and inexperience, why on earth should we believe what Trump says about Israel and Jewish causes? Sure, it might suit him to be supportive now, but as president of a country that has very close ties to Saudi Arabia, I wouldn’t be surprised if his enthusiasm waned a little when dealing with them.
But that’s not really the point.
As Pastor Niemoller makes clear in his poem, First They Came, we are all in this together.
Just because it’s not us Jews facing the wrath of this lunatic, does not mean we should turn our back on it.
Be under no illusion. Trump’s racism towards Muslims is evil, viciously evil, stupidly evil, ignorantly evil, and to support a man like that is similarly evil.
As Jews, I really do not expect us to be any different to other people. I don’t think we should necessarily be more moral and less discriminatory.
And yet, having been through the greatest crime in humanity, if we cannot learn to be more like that, then there really is no hope whatsoever.
But you know, trying to argue the toss about Trump is pointless really. He has said and done so much that would have destroyed other politicians, and come through unscathed, that sensibly pointing out the reasons why voting for him would be wrong is a waste of time.
His supporters don’t care. They have been whipped into a frenzy of devotion and, as far as they’re concerned, their man is the great saviour and can do no wrong – where have I heard that before?
So I’m going to move away from logical argument and just ask you, beg you really, to use your gut instinct.
I look at this man, Donald Trump, and I see a despicable, horrible, vile person. And trust me, I really do try to be compassionate, to find the good in everyone.
At best, I would say he is misguided, someone who thinks he’s trying to better the world, but is actually causing a lot of harm. But that really is giving him the benefit of the doubt.
The bottom line is this. Can you honestly look at him and genuinely think: ‘Here is a good, decent, honourable person, someone I would trust as the leader of the most powerful country in the world, and more pertinently, someone who, as a Jew, I would be proud to support?’
I don’t think we know the answer, I know we know it.