When I was growing up, my parents told never to take rides from strangers. Moving to Israel required me to make a major adjustment in my understanding of hitchhiking. While there are real and present dangers associated with hitchhiking in Israel, many people find that ‘tremping’, as the term is known in colloquial Hebrew, can be a very convenient and practical way to get around, particularly in isolated locations in Israel.
While I have never availed myself of this ‘service’, my children, at one point or another have taken ‘tremps’ to various locations. Ignorant parent that I am, they have informed me of some of the rules of ‘tremping’ in Israel. First and foremost, when hitching a ride, do not be rude or unkind to your driver, who is helping you get to your destination. Do not talk on your cellphone when in a ‘tremp’. It shows disregard for the person who is driving, who doesn’t know you, and who is doing you a favor. Your driver does not want to be disturbed, and in exchange for the ride, you, the ‘trempist’, should keep quiet. Of course, entering a ‘tremp’, has its risky side as well. The driver himself may be rude, loud, emit vile odors, or smoke. He may drive unsafely and be unpleasant. But that’s all part of the risk.
In three days, Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Some people are apprehensive as to the type of leadership he will bring to the august office of President. Others view the coming day with great anticipation.
Reading and observing the goings-on in Washington from Bet Shemesh — just under 6,000 miles away, according to Google — I am struck by two different reactions among the American Jewish community. Those with a primarily liberal, progressive bent, are horrified by the comments, tweets, and pronouncements of the president-elect.
Those in the American Jewish community with a more right-wing outlook, particularly those who are strong supporters of Israel, are far more bullish on Trump, primarily because of his seemingly strong support of Israel. Trump disapproved of the U.S. abstention during the recent United Nations vote that posited that Israel’s establishment of settlements in territory taken during the Six-Day War, including the Old City, had no legal validity. Furthermore, Trump has nominated David Friedman, a passionate supporter of settlement activity, as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the incoming president has pledged to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
I did not vote in this election, nor have I voted in any US election since 1996, when I moved to Israel. Nevertheless, I feel a bit of discomfort at the blithe pronouncements of Israel supporters who are delighted by Trump’s pronouncements about his support for Israel. First, there is no assurance that these will actually come to pass, once he enters the Oval Office. Even Trump supporters realize that just about the only thing predictable about Trump is his unpredictability.
Second, and perhaps even more important, supporters of Israel are taking a ‘tremp’ with Trump. Yes, he may keep his promises about Israel. Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem may be desirable, and showing strong support for Israel in the UN is necessary. But what about the rest? If some American Jews are ‘along for the ride’ with Trump, then they are not only along for the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem, but they are ‘in it’ for everything else as well, tweets, controversies, and all. And, while taking a ‘tremp’ can be convenient, inexpensive, and fast, it’s worth noting that sometimes, particularly if the driver has a somewhat unpleasant odor, it stays with the rider when he exits the car. So, to all the American Jewish supporters of #45, I say, take the tremp, if you wish. But fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a wild ride.