Full disclosure: I have not and will not endorse any of the Presidential candidates because none satisfy my requirements for Both a good progressive domestic agenda AND a sane, level-headed foreign policy with a new empathetic and restored relationship with our ally, Israel in the Middle East and a commitment to restoring a strong American-Israel Relationship, committed to a two state solution and demanding the Palestinians and Arabs recognize Israel and stop calling for its destruction. No one candidate has offered both these platforms and so I am withholding support for any candidate as of this writing.
Having said all of that, let me simply say, flat out, that Donald Trump is wrong for America, wrong for Israel and probably the world. While I realize that Trump has tapped into an anger and frustration in America, he is also appealing to the worst fears, apprehensions and behaviors in all of us, turning people against people and whipping them up into frenzies not unlike those seen in fascist Europe in the 1930’s and ’40’s in Germany and Italy. Trump, an autocratic businessman of questionable success and reputation who has developed a public persona of “telling it like it is,” has presided over physical attacks at his rallies which now serve as platforms for incitement and people are getting hurt. It is a matter of time before this spills into the streets. Fueled by xenophobia, bigotry, political narcissism and calculated thresholds, Trump is playing a very dangerous game with the American future and indirectly with the future of Israel and the Middle East. By speaking in erratic and often contradictory terms, he is stirring the pot without understanding what he’s cooking up. He is playing dangerously with the future of this country and its allies.
On the issue of the economy, this is a man, who like George W. Bush, has had his fair share of failed businesses and bankruptcies, with serious questions about his own trade and manufacturing practices which appear quite different from the views he espouses. Claiming he will bring jobs and manufacturing back to America, his own clothing companies maintain manufacturing facilities in China and offshore. With respect to immigration and jobs for Americans, this is a man who hires out of country workers seasonally to staff his properties throughout the country during high season, denying decent wages to Americans. This is a man whose own ready, fire aim national security proclamations about targeted assassinations of civilians had to be walked back after his utterances. This is a man who presides over attendees sucker punching others at his rallies. This is a man who raises his arms to demand loyalty reminiscent of fascist leaders in Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s. This is not what America needs and would not be good for Israel either.
While there are polls showing that Trump has a following in Israel, it is clear to me that these folks don’t really know Trump and only see him as a strong, declarative leader against those who are threatening Israel and that is true. What they don’t realize is that he is an empty suit with regards to military understandings, geopolitics and the real situation of Israel. At one level he says what he thinks the pro-Israel community wants to hear at the same time equivocating on specifics. He is more bluster than substance pandering to the Israeli hard right thinking he can score with the current government. When Netanyahu sees that he is an even worst empty suit than his predecessor, that will be bad for Israel. While I am no Netanyahu fan, it is clear that regardless of who is in power in Israel Trump will be difficult to deal with and perhaps further confound and already complex and difficult situation for most Israelis.
Americans and Israelis must not follow this narcissist over the brink. People seem to think he knows exactly what he is doing and that’s what many said about Hitler, that he would never go as far as he did and that reports of his aspirations and tactics were greatly exaggerated. If Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party and eventually the President of the United State, it will not signal a new commitment to unity and restoration of the American-Israel relationship, but a further preoccupation with healing the incredible wounds being created by the ever-widening internal struggles of both countries draining energy and resources from the substantive external existential threats to both countries from encroaching anti-Western democratic forces. As Europe is being choked into submission by these forces now, with both America and Israel being targeted next. Trump is not a unifier. He is not loved by everyone. He is a divider and purveyor of hate. I am particularly concerned about Rabbis and Jews who give him credibility and those who give him every benefit of the doubt. Trump is partially a result of our problems and certainly not part of our solutions.
Finally, having said all that, please understand this is not an endorsement of any of the other current canididates. I believe all of them have deal breaking flaws which alienate my vote. I had hoped Biden would enter the race and have been encouraged by his recent comments about Palestinian terror, but understand and accept his personal reasons for not running. He has spoke when the President has not and I commend him for that. I was also disappointed when Michael Bloomberg decided not to run and felt that though he was weak in some areas, he was someone with whom I could live with and for whom I could vote.