Steve Sheffey
Pro-Israel writer and activist

Jewish? Undecided? Vote for Biden

Donald Trump’s personality is inseparable from his policies. Our Republican friends want us to think of Trump as a lovable bigot who means well, a 21st century Archie Bunker. But Archie wasn’t the President of the United States. Trump’s words matter. It is no coincidence extremist-related murders are overwhelmingly (90%) linked to right-wing extremists or that anti-Semitism has spiked dramatically since Trump took office. Trump’s anti-Semitic rhetoric is even less excusable because he has Jewish family members. As Rabbi Jill Jacobs reminds us, having Jewish children doesn’t mean you can’t be an anti-Semite any more than having a daughter means that you can’t be a sexist and a rapist.
This election is not about who you would rather have a beer with. This election is about whose finger you want on the nuclear button, whose judgment you would trust in a crisis, and whether you support a party opposed to democratic norms and a president whose nominee to the Supreme Court cannot name the freedoms protected by the First Amendment and refuses to say whether it is illegal to intimidate voters at the polls (Spoiler Alert: It is illegal. Barrett’s refusal to answer is like a rabbi refusing to say whether pork is kosher).
Barrett refused say whether she thought separating a child from their parent was wrong, whether Trump can delay the election (he can’t), and whether the president should commit to a peaceful transfer of power. She believes in originalism, “a simplistic, stubborn dogma based on a frozen view of the Constitution.” Originalism, to quote Ron Charles, “is just a slick rhetorical maneuver to privilege one’s own views as objectively primary.” Republicans will confirm her nomination.
Trump’s policies have failed. His foreign policy earned failing grades. At home, the question is how many thousands of Americans would be alive today if Trump had not delayed and lied to the American people about COVID. Maybe not all 210,000, but many thousands. The president’s most important job is to keep us safe, and Trump failed.
Instead of encouraging people to wear masks, he mocks them. Instead of working across the aisle to restart our economy, he engages in childish name-calling. Do we want four more years of this? If any president prior to Trump had shown even a fraction of the corruption, bigotry, or indecency that Trump flaunts every day, that president would be forced to resign or removed from office. But because Trump does it constantly, because he follows Steve Bannon’s advice to “flood the zone with [nonsense],” we can’t focus on any of it, so he gets away with all of it. This is not how America is supposed to work.
Trump has done nothing to stem the epidemic of gun violence and nothing to combat climate change, the biggest existential threat to our children’s lives. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would rob millions of Americans of access to healthcare and allow insurance companies to deny insurance to people with pre-existing conditions–which, thanks to Trump, now includes at least seven million Americans who have been infected with COVID.
But what about Israel? The Iran Deal was working, but Trump walked away while Iran was still in compliance. Then his “maximum pressure” strategy failed, his efforts at the UN to continue the arms embargo against Iran failed, and his efforts at the UN to snapback sanctions against Iran failed.
Trump accomplished nothing, and now Iran is closer to nuclear weapons than when Trump left the deal. Unless you think Iran is kidding about wanting to wipe Israel off the map, Trump’s failures on Iran should be reason enough to vote him out of office if Israel is your issue. History shows that Biden is right and Trump is wrong on Iran.
Unless you think Israel can remain Jewish and democratic while maintaining indefinite control of the West Bank (it can’t), you should be concerned that Trump’s policies have pushed Israel further from a two-state solution.
No matter how much importance you attach to Trump’s moving the embassy (other countries are not lining up to move theirs), recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights (Israel’s control of the Golan was not under attack), or playing an undefined role in formalizing informal relations that have existed for years between Israel and two Gulf states 1,800 miles away from Israel, there is no question that Biden will be better for Israel than Trump. Biden has proved it for five decades.
Biden’s moderate views are reflected in the 2020 Democratic Platform (see in particular page 91, on Israel). We could have an interesting discussion about whether the Democratic Party’s future lies with four freshman Democrats elected in 2018 or the other 58 freshman Democrats elected in 2018. If we did the math, it would be a short discussion. If we looked at the record, we’d see that Democrats remain overwhelmingly supportive of Israel.
If we are concerned about trends, we should focus on the 22 Republicans running for Congress who support QAnon (an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory), some of whom Trump has embraced. That’s not a squad–that’s a battalion.
More than that, we should be horrified that the the leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, refused to condemn white supremacists at the last debate and instead gave a shout out to the Proud Boys, an anti-Semitic white supremacy group–and they loved it. Trump’s subsequent one-sentence condemnation of white supremacy at Thursday’s town hall does not excuse his failure at the debate, and his refusal to condemn QAnon at the town hall shows that Trump is either “stunningly uninformed or simply not telling the truth.”
Marc Stanley points out that Trump’s debate performance was not surprising, “coming from a man who called neo-Nazis in Charlottesville ‘very fine people,’ who launched his political career by calling immigrants rapists and murderers, who’s repeatedly used language drawn directly from the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and recently deployed the stereotype — not for the first time — about Jewish dual loyalty on a call ahead of the High Holidays.”
Trump lacks the character, judgment, and honesty to lead our country. He is the worst president in modern American history. We cannot risk giving him four more years.
About the Author
Steve Sheffey is active in the Chicago-area Jewish and pro-Israel political communities and is the Strategy and Policy Advisor for the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA). He writes and publishes the Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update. The views he expresses on this blog are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organizations he is or has been associated with.