Imagine the juxtaposition.
On Saturday, 21st November, the New York Times published a half page article titled, “For Netanyahu and Israel, Trump’s Gifts Kept on Coming.” It’s subtitle was even more specific. “Allowing the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard the ability to emigrate to Israel was just the latest in a long list of prizes for America’s closest ally in the Middle East.” It would go on to detail all the things that President Trump has done for Israel over the past four years.
By now, it’s a well-known and long list. The New York Times cited the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the moving of the embassy to the holy city; the recognition of the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory; the defunding of the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA because of their “pay to slay” cash to terrorists who have murdered Jews; the staunch defense of Israel at the United Nations through Nikki Haley and others; and Trump trashing Obama’s Iran deal which gave the murdering Mullahs $150 billion in unfrozen assets – much of it literally in planeloads filled with cash – so they could murder more innocent people around the globe. What sparked the article was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the Psagot winery in Israel – a beautiful place where my family has staged several family celebrations – which is in Judea and Samaria. Said the Times, “And the Trump administration has increasingly equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, both domestically and internationally. Building on that, Mr. Pompeo this week announced that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel would be deemed anti-Semitic, and that its adherents would no longer be eligible for federal government support.”
Lest you make the mistake of thinking that the New York Times had suddenly taken leave of its senses and published the article to praise Trump, the article’s intent was the opposite. To complain about how one-sided Trump has been toward the Jews and how Biden might, hopefully, be more even-handed and equate a thriving liberal democracy that supports the rights of women and gays to the Palestinian tyranny and kleptocracy that sees Abbas throwing newspaper editors in jail while his sons Tariq and Yasser continue to become gazillionaires. As the Times wrote, “Mr. Trump broke sharply with his predecessors’ approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, taking Israel’s side on the status of Jerusalem, West Bank settlements and other occupied territory.”
Now, contrast that criticism of President Trump, by the world’s most respected newspaper, as being way too nice to the Jews and Israel with an astonishing and mystifying attack by Temple Emanuel near Boston which put out a statement comparing Trump to Hitler.
In a newsletter sent out to its congregants last week, and signed by senior clergy and Cantors, Temple Emanuel said, “The attack on democracy happening now is literally unprecedented. In the history of our nation, no presidential candidate who lost the election has refused to concede or to assist in the orderly transition of power… We Jews of all people, all of us, should be alarmed. On this week when we mark the 82 nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, we Jews know that when assertions are made by authoritarians that go unchallenged, when ordinary citizens shrug and do nothing, or worse, are coopted by those looking to undo democracy, the gravest harm ensues.”
The authoritarian in question is, of course, President Trump, and Kristallnacht was the beginning of Hitler’s holocaust.
Here you have a Shul telling its members that Trump’s challenging the election in the American courts can be likened to a night when hundreds of Synagogues were burned to the ground in Germany and scores of Jews brutally attacked and murdered – with thousands more sent to concentration camps – in the most infamous and widespread pogrom of the modern era.
No one says that the Synagogue could not have called upon Trump to concede the election. But Hitler? One would have thought that Temple Emanuel’s comparison might more logically be applied to the murderous Mullahs of Iran who call for the annihilation of Israel’s six million Jews every time they post on Facebook and Twitter, and whose regime Trump is crushing with unprecedented sanctions. But no, the President whom even the New York Times scolds as being too much in league with the Jews is on the precipice of starting a holocaust and becoming Hitler.
The “Trump is Hitler” crowd have been mystifyingly vocal for the past four years, particularly and shockingly in the Jewish community. I myself was condemned by Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner – also of a Temple Emanuel – in a newspaper which I am a columnist for, The Jewish Standard in New Jersey, way back in March of 2016, for chastising those who compare Donald Trump to Hitler. He wrote, “When exactly is the moment of worry which officially allows us to sound the alarm bells? Must one first kill 6 Million Jewish souls to be categorized as “Hitler?””
While saying thank you to a man who moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, recognized the Golan Heights, changed the tenor toward Israel at the UN, and, most importantly, took us out of the Iran Deal, is too much, demonizing him as a monster is still too little.
So let’s be clear. Even those Jews who despise Trump and refuse to offer any form of gratitude for all he has done for the Jewish state should at the very least show some respect to the six million and stop engaging in this rancid and disgusting trivialization of the holocaust.
It is time for Jews who are Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, to push back together against those who abase themselves by comparing Trump to Hitler or many other Nazi comparisons.
Since 2016 we’ve heard that Trump would become a dictator and stifle all dissent. That he would dismantle American democracy as we know it. Really? No President in history has been more hated by mainstream news organs that Trump. The New York Times, just before the election, devoted – not just the customary editorial rejecting Trump and endorsing Biden – but an entire section of editorials pillorying Trump and embracing Biden. There is no precedent for them doing this against any other candidate.
Do you know what Trump can do about it? Nothing. Zero. He has no power over the media.
The comedy on Showtime Our Cartoon President pillories Trump every week as an overweight imbecile halfwit. Trump’s kids and family are mercilessly mocked. What action can Trump take? More than refuse to watch it, nothing. Oh yes, he can also call it “fake news.” That’s about it.
And the media does not fear him in the slightest either, thereby proving that he is neither dictator nor tyrant. CNN, MSNBC, and many other broadcast networks pillory Trump from right inside the White House and he is powerless to prevent their entry.
To the contrary, his media enemies have been emboldened by his presidency and they vilify him with gusto, which is their right, but which also undermines their whole claim that he is dismantling democracy.
The same is true of Trump’s political enemies, who march around the country, condemning him in the strongest terms, with the President utterly powerless to a single thing about it. And why? Because the freedoms of America have not withered in the slightest during the Trump presidency.
Yes, America is divided. Yes, many Americans sadly hate each other. But yes, America remains absolutely and totally free. It would be better if we had more love for each other. And Obama contributed plenty – as did Trump – to the divisions in American society. Obama forced the Iran deal and other unilateral actions down the throat of the American body politic – with little to no Congressional support – knowing that it could tear the nation apart. But he did it anyway. Both Presidents could have, and should have done more, to unite the country. But let’s not pretend that the fault lines in America began with Donald Trump.
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but the vile comparison of Trump to Hitler belittles the holocaust and all genocide. I’ve just completed a three-year project of writing a book called Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell. It details how I took my children to the killing fields of Europe in an effort to confront the sheer horror and brutality of the largest mass murder in world history. The book is filled with painful stories of episodes like my seven-year-old daughter Cheftizba begging me and my wife Debbie not to make her spend her eight birthday, on July 3rd, at Auschwitz (we took her to the Lodz ghetto instead). The holocaust is unknowable, and yet I know it. As a Jew it is seared into my soul. And it’s time that as a global community we call on Rabbis and Jewish leaders to stop deprecating its horrors by comparing Trump’s legal challenges about the vote in court to the Einsatzgruppen and the SS.
Indeed, for all his faults – and they are many – it was not President Obama but President Trump who twice fired American missiles at the genocidaire Assad of Syria for gassing Arab children. Trump is condemned for being too close to Putin. But let’s not forget that it was Obama who turned over the problem of Assad’s poison gas to Russia and Putin, accepting the tyrant’s guarantee that he would disarm Assad of his nerve agents, which would be comical if it weren’t so tragic.
And then there is the Iran deal. Which President refused to ever confront Iran over their promise to become Hitler and destroy Israel, not to mention bring death to America, the big Satan which supports the little Jewish Satan, Israel? Obama or Trump? Who rewarded Iran for their repeated promises to bring about a second holocaust by giving legitimizing their nuclear program and granting sunset clauses in the Iran deal that would make it legitimate for Iran to build a nuclear bomb within a decade? Obama or Trump? And who, when they entered the Oval Office, imposed new sanctions in Iran for their threats to exterminate Israel, bringing their economy to ruin? Obama or Trump.
Then there is the comparison, made by AOC and others, that Trump built concentration camps on the Southern border. He’s therefore Hitler. Another disgusting, stomach-turning comparison.
We can and must condemn the separation of children from parents at detention centers on the border – a practice which should never happened and was quickly stopped – while never being so offensive as to compare it to the holocaust. To compare American border agents to the Gestapo is an abomination. To compare US ICE agents to the SS is an affront to the 1.5 million Jewish children were gassed to death at Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek, and so many other centers of death. And to compare America to Nazi Germany is an affront to logic, values and decency.
What the “Trump as Hitler” attacks by the leadership of Temple Emanuel and others really expose is a willingness to demonize Trump even at the expense of the six million. So I say, You hate Trump? Fine. That’s democracy. By all means, oppose him with every breath and heartbeat. That is your right. But what in God’s name does this have to do with Jews being turned into soap and lampshades?
Jews who voted for Biden can still, as influential thinker Rabbi Yitz Greenberg said, show thankfulness and gratitude for all that Trump has done for Israel and the Jewish people.
Jews who voted for Trump can still acknowledge Biden’s decades of friendship with Israel and the Jewish community.
And Jews who voted for Biden can still make it clear to him that he better maintain his independence and not be co-opted by the anti-Semitic polices of the Democratic far left, headed by unrepentant Jew-haters like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
And Jews on the left and the right can all agree that for four years it’s been inspiring to see a President with a Jewish daughter, whom he loves very much, and son-in-law, in the White House who observe the Sabbath, light the Chanukah candles, read the Purim Megillah, and push their father to stand with and protect a people, and their nation-state, who just seventy years ago were murdered at a rate of 10,000 per day by a man to whom no human ought to ever be compared — Hitler.