Jewish communities on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond have watched this highly divisive US presidential election and its result with a mixture of surprise and alarm.
Some of Donald Trump’s suggestions that an elite cabal was behind America’s ills sometimes felt like anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, particularly when campaign publicity around this featured prominent Jews. I have expressed deep unease with what sometimes looked like Trump’s apparent hesitancy to distance himself from white supremacist supporters.
His supporters would point to the fact his daughter Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism to marry a Jewish man, apparently with the full support of the new President-elect. There is also little doubt about Trump’s long-standing relationship with Israel and strong, pro-Israel views, including the pledge to revisit the nuclear deal with Iran.
His offensive comments about women and his campaign’s wider hostility towards minorities, including Mexican immigrants, Muslims and African Americans, have caused anger among many Jews. An urgent priority is to address the wounds he and his campaign have caused, reassuring those who have been demonised or disrespected during the campaign. This may require significant reserves of patience and humility.
Engagement between Jews and the next US president will need to strike a balance between constructively advancing our common interests and setting down a clear marker about the necessity of considered leadership in a pluralistic society.