Akiva Gersh

I don’t care if Trump is better for Israel (and I’m not convinced he is)

The Jewish values that make him support Israeli settlements make him reject claims that favor the president-elect

I’ll say straight up that I support Israeli settlements. I like Israeli settlements. I like the idea of Jews living on the same land as our ancient ancestors, on the true “Bible Belt” of the land of Israel. Whenever I visit friends who live in settlements I am in awe at the strength of their communities and the dedication of the people living there to building a strong Jewish future in the Jewish homeland.

I also want Jerusalem to remain a unified city under Israeli control with no international border coming close to the Temple Mount or Kotel.

As for the two-state solution, I truly would like the Palestinians to one day have a sovereign nation they can call their own, but am too afraid of what that nation would become in reality to fully support a two-state solution.

Having said all of that, I’ve been experiencing an inner struggle ever since Trump won the American presidential elections. Let’s even call it a battle between the part of me that is still very connected to my American Jewish liberal upbringing and the part of me that has become more right-wing when it comes to political issues in Israel during the 12 years I’ve lived here.

Let me explain.

In recent days, I’ve had conversations with people who I respect and even admire who have expressed their satisfaction with Trump’s victory because “Trump is better for Israel.”

I have witnessed Israeli politicians, who I myself voted for in the last Israeli election, celebrate Trump’s win because “Trump is better for Israel.”

What do they mean when they say that Trump is better for Israel?

They mean that they believe that Trump won’t place limits on the construction of Israeli settlements, that he’ll move the American embassy to Jerusalem, and that he won’t bother Israel with an obligation to the two-state solution.

Let’s put to the side for now the fact that Trump has already changed his opinion about certain strong statements or promises he made during his campaign regarding these issues and that there’s a fair chance that these hopes and dreams of American and Israeli right-wing Jews won’t even come true. Even if he does live up to these promises or these expectations, I myself cannot rejoice in the ways in which Israel may benefit from Trump being president.

Yes, as I said, I support many of the ideas of the Israeli political right. On the other hand, other beliefs, values and opinions of mine, which are heavily, if not exclusively, guided by my Jewish identity and practice, cannot allow me to be okay with many of the statements that Trump has made throughout his campaign, as well as his career, or with some of the actions he is already starting to make as he prepares himself to be president of the most powerful nation on the planet this coming January.

I don’t care if Trump will let Israel build more freely in the settlements. I don’t care if he moves the American embassy to Jerusalem. I don’t care if he will “leave Israel alone” when it comes to the two-state solution. My Jewish values are not only centered on how many Jews live over the Green Line or what kind of pressure is or is not being put on Israel by which American president. My Jewish values are way bigger than that. Way more far-reaching. Way more global.

And what might be “better for Israel” might not be better for many Americans. And may not be better for the world. And therefore, by definition, is not better for the Jewish people. Including the Jewish people living in Israel. Because we are a people that is defined by our concern for humankind, by our desire to heal our broken world, by our ability to think not only about themselves.

So don’t tell me “Trump is better for Israel.” Because that’s not enough. In fact, that’s simply not Jewish.

About the Author
Akiva Gersh moved to Israel from New York in 2004 and has been working in the field of Jewish and Israel Education for over 20 years. In 2020 he founded @Israel to share his love and passion for Israel with students, schools and communities around the world through his online classes, courses and virtual tours of Israel. Akiva is also the editor of the book "Becoming Israeli" (, a compilation of essays that gives an inside look at the unique experience of making aliyah and the journey of acclimating to life in Israel. He also created a social media platform called "Vegan Rabbi" through which he teaches about Jewish teachings related to health, animal welfare and environmental stewardship. Akiva lives in Pardes Hanna with his wife Tamar and their four kids.
Related Topics
Related Posts