It may come as little surprise that I was delighted by the American election result. Like the Brexit decision, Donald Trump’s victory was a breath of fresh air – a welcome diversion from the stagnant appeasement mode of the Obama Administration.
Fellow Jews are entitled to take a different view. Judging by reactions from the community both here and in the US since the election, it is clear that many do.
Those who believe Hilary Clinton would have been a better choice are free to wallow in their disappointment. But those sentiments are now irrelevant. Trump has won. Like it or not, barring some unforseeable circumstance, from January he will be the most powerful individual in the western world for the next four years.
What Jewish people should not be doing, especially in the media, is lambasting Trump – now he has won – in some of the intemperate terms we have seen. There has been a huge amount of journalistic rabble-rousing against him, which is every bit as wild and irresponsible as the provocative comments for which Trump has been criticised.
To lead , as this newspaper did last week, with expressions such as “shock and horror” at the result, “the emotional maturity of a 12-year old” and “the often-vile personality” in reference to the president-elect, is completely over-the-top. Even worse was the language employed by another Jewish newspaper whose editorial claimed “as a matter of fact” that Trump is “a racist misogynist bully”, that his campaign was “self-consciously anti-Semitic” (whatever that is supposed to mean), that he is a threat to world freedom – and other scaremongering termonology more appropriate to the description of a neo-Nazi.
People in our community who spout this outrageous rhetoric are allowing their personal objection to Trump’s swash-buckling demeanour, or perhaps their own out-moded left-wing bias, to obstruct their political vision from a Jewish perspective.
They are pursuing a kind of death-wish, desperately looking for hostility when it isn’t there. They are the pathetic personification of the old joke that if anti-Semitism did not exist, Jews would have had to invent it.
Let me remind those critics of a few facts. Trump is an ardent supporter of Israel. He is opposed to the two-state solution, which would be the first step to Israel’s destruction. He is utterly opposed to Islamic extremism – now the greatest threat to democracy and international peace. He is committed to fighting all terrorism equally, be it ISIS, Hamas or Hezbollah. He has condemned the infamous nuclear deal with Iran. He has pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
It doesn’t stop there. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are observant Jews. He himself is a believer in religious freedom, which ought to bode well for Jewish education, community security, protection of shechita and brit milah. His vice president-elect, Mike Pence, has been described in the Israeli press as “one of the best friends the State of Israel and the Jewish people ever had”.
Like all politicians , Trump – and indeed Pence – once in power, could change their stance and find excuses to renege on their commitments. But they should be given every encouragement to deliver, not have mud slung at them right at the start from within our community.
We Jews have many real enemies out there, working overtime to try and cause us harm. Not just in the Middle East , but elsewhere too, in the likes of Chavez, Erdogan, Le Pen, Corbyn et al. These individuals are far more worthy candidates for our opprobrium.
To do so against Trump is a manifestation of gross ingratitude, to say the least, and potentially self-defeating.
Would we like to give the next president reason to say: “ If that’s what the Jews think of me, why should I bother to support them?”