Okay, so he isn’t Jewish and many would argue that including the name Trump and the word “values” in the same sentence constitutes an oxymoron, but stay with me.
If we were to grade Donald Trump’s actions on a series of universal Jewish values, what would his GPA be? Admittedly, there is room for bias in the values chosen, but the grades are grounded in fact. With that, here is his report card.
Honesty: A person is permitted to lie to keep peace in the home or to avoid embarrassing someone, but as a rule, being honest and truthful is an ironclad Jewish imperative. Donald Trump has been accused of playing fast and loose with the truth both in the debates and while campaigning — but what politician doesn’t use revisionism to score points?
An examination of his statements reveals a range of untruths, seemingly caused by everything from ignorance to bravado. In one debate, Trump railed about the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which was designed for China to come in “through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.” That seemed to be an interesting observation — until Rand Paul pointed out that China was not a player in the deal. There was his attempt to rile a crowd at a campaign stop by insisting that 250,000 Syrian refugees will pour into the United States, although the official number was 10,000. During a debate, he boasted, regarding Putin, “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes.” They were indeed. However, the segments were pre-taped, with Trump in New York, Putin in Moscow. Another debate assertion was that he was the only candidate who opposed the war in Iraq before the invasion, declaring that people can check it out. “I’ll give you 25 different stories,” he said. Fact-checkers who followed up could not find one published Trump statement supporting that claim, let alone 25. He did call the war a mess after it had begun.
So how does Trump compare to his fellow contenders? A December 11th New York Times op-ed by the editor of PolitiFact revealed that fully 76 percent of his statements were mostly/totally false. Only Ben Carson, at 84 percent, was higher. Another organization, FactCheck.org, said, about Trump’s falsehoods, “In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match.” Grade: F
Modesty: I once read a quote from a rabbinic figure who said that the only thing he really knew about God is that He doesn’t like haughty people. Countless biblical references support this thought. In Proverbs, written by King Solomon, there is a list of six things that God hates in man, with “haughty eyes” mentioned first, followed by a “lying tongue.” Haughty eyes is defined as having an arrogant demeanor and an overall attitude in the heart that causes a person to scorn or look down on others.
As for Trump, his statements include “Everything I’ve done virtually has been a tremendous success,” “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich,” “Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it,” and “I have instructed my long-time doctor to issue a full medical report. It will show perfection.” Enough said. Grade: F
Family Values: If Judaism is nothing else, it’s about passing traditions, values, and beliefs on to the next generation and maintaining a righteous path. Donald Trump has five children. The three oldest, with his first wife Ivana, are in their 30s and doing quite well by all accounts. All three have prominent positions in the Trump organization. In a January 2015 People article, they lavish praise on their father for the values he instilled — “No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes” was drummed into them every day, Donald Jr. said. Ivanka noted: “We were surrounded by great privilege and we had amazing opportunity, but it was incredibly warm and I think the values were the right ones.” Eric said: “Our father always made us work. I think that’s the greatest thing a parent could ever do. It made you really understand the value of a dollar.” Although they weren’t without their issues, the proof is in how they’ve turned out. Grade: A
Charity: Giving charity is a requirement in Judaism for rich and poor alike. References to charitable giving, along with rules and levels, abound. In fact, according to Jewish tradition, the person receiving charity is actually doing the giver a favor by providing him or her with the opportunity to do such a critical mitzvah.
According to an Associated Press review of his financial records, Donald Trump falls far short of the norm when it comes to generosity. It has been said that he ranks among the least charitable billionaires in the world. His own Donald J. Trump Foundation has no regular staff and has distributed $3.6 million between 2011 and 2013, the most recent period available. The vast majority of that came from other people’s contributions to the foundation. The AP article went on to say that Trump’s last significant donation to his foundation was $30,000 in 2008. The Trump Organization’s website had described him as an “ardent philanthropist,” but that language was removed late last year. Grade: D
Do unto others: Bush has low energy and is dumb as a rock. Rubio is a clown who sweats too much. Cruz is a little bit of a maniac and Carson is pathological. As for Fiorina — “look at that face.” These are just some of the comments — always personal, rarely about policy — aimed at his fellow Republicans from the man vying to become America’s chief diplomat and most visible representative. As Hillel said, “That which is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah.” According to Jewish scholars, embarrassing someone publicly is akin to killing him. By that standard, Donald Trump might be considered a serial killer the likes of which we have never before witnessed. Grade: F
In a December 16th piece in Politico, his biographer Michael D’Antonio revealed that Trump once told him “For the most part, you can’t respect people, because most people aren’t worthy of respect.” D’Antonio noted that Trump’s “… life story is that of a man who has succeeded — repeatedly — by appealing with great precision to the worst impulses in others.”
If it can be agreed that Trump’s overall GPA clearly falls short of emulating important Jewish values, whose values does he embody? A December 18th Washington Post opinion piece by Dana Milbank sheds some light. Milbank had earlier written an op-ed critical of Trump, calling him a bigot and a racist. Understandably, he received quite a bit of hate mail from Trump supporters. Of concern was that they mostly zeroed in on the fact that Milbank was Jewish, with the word “kike” appearing among the epithets aimed at him again and again. Milbank noted that in the seven presidential campaigns he’s covered in more than 25 years, the venom he received from Trump backers was without precedent.
According to a December 10th story in Time, white supremacist groups say they are receiving a spike in support because of Donald Trump. David Duke has said: “I’m thinking more and more that this candidacy is a really good thing for us.”
Something for us to think about.