No Need To Be Ashamed

I am not sure what makes Jews so sensitive to tone regarding conversation. I am not certain either why Jews feel the need to be shamed and shocked by bold language rather than to accept it for what it is.

Jews claiming shock and horror at some of the things Donald Trump says do not claim shock and horror watching five love making sessions during a popular movie, or dozens of Hollywood style executions and gun killings, or explosions and crashes.

Our society is awash in violence and pornography – where is the shock and horror about this, I wonder? Where is the anger? Where is the outrage?

At the recent AIPAC annual meeting in Washington, D.C., four candidates for president, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Donald Trump, delivered rousing pro-Israel speeches which were all well received by an apparently adoring crowd. I didn’t attend.

I watched all the speeches being delivered on my flatscreen laying down on my couch at home. At times, I was frankly in awe of the hyperbole spewing out of the mouths of the candidates about how they all support Israel. For me, it was like drowning in a powerful stream of effluent spewing from a broken sewer pipe.

The selective shock and horror and subsequent shame Jews were supposed to feel was reserved exclusively for Trump. Trump’s speech inspired the ire of much of the Jewish leadership in the audience and those who have deemed Trump an inappropriate candidate for president of anything, let alone the United States.

Trump is simply not the kind of fellow Jewish leadership and the membership of AIPAC feels is capable of expressing the truth about the position of Jews and Israel in a rapidly changing world. He speaks too frankly and too boldly and he is absolutely absent of the affect that controls nearly all of the folly and rubbish coming from the mouths of all our politicians.

“There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night (because of the cheers for Trump) and for that we are deeply sorry,” said Lillian Pinkus, the newly installed president of AIPAC from a prepared statement of apology with a voice alternately pleading and contrite to reporters the next morning. Trump’s attack on President Obama disturbed many AIPAC members.

The president should be treated with the utmost respect even if his sentiments are more with the Muslim world than with Israel. Pinkus expressed regret to Obama for Trump’s attack and the loud applause it received. Trump’s words about President Obama being the worst US president with regard to Israel in modern history resonated with the crowd. Most Jews understand the change that has taken place with Israel and American relations since Obama was elected. Speaking, apparently for all Jews, Pinkus said that no matter how sincere, it will take more than one apology to repair the damage done by Trump’s deplorable words and to negate the glee with which they were received.

Some Jewish editors and writers said the challenge goes well beyond the debate within AIPAC over Israel policy to the fundamental question of what kind of community do we want to be?

The question should be, who should Jews cheer for at an annual AIPAC conference?

John Kasich?

I loved his speech but it embarrassed me as he has virtually no chance whatsoever of being elected President of the United States, let alone becoming the Republican presidential nominee. The crowd greeted him and his thoughts with wild fervor. No shame for his undisguised political drivel supporting Israel unconditionally. You would have thought Abraham Lincoln was speaking instead of the Governor of Ohio who has no chance of winning.

Hillary Clinton’s speech was more of the same – appallingly, blatantly, self gratuitous nothingness with repeated I’m for this for Israel and that for Israel and no one will be more for Israel than me!

If you are Jewish and can believe her statements of loyalty, then you can believe anything.

Ted Cruz, another candidate with near to no chance to win was met with wild applause for his scathingly pro-Israel exhortation and rhetoric like that of a anti-Islamist ready to do some carpet bombing of Arab nations.

Still no shame felt about this among the Jews. Somehow Cruz’s delusions are acceptable.

And then there was Trump – whose appearance was protested by 300 rabbis, and denounced by the greater majority of Jewish leadership in America.

His lies, half truths and bald inconsistencies did not blemish him anymore than it blemished the others who spoke at AIPAC.

Some Jews said they were ashamed of fellow Jews applauding such duplicity, as though duplicity was the exclusive business of Trump.

They wondered: Is this the kind of community we want to be?

What they should have been wondering is who the next president of the United States is going to be and how we Jews are going to make peace with that person after defending President Obama until the very end?

The bullies and the bigots in this world attack us and swear to annihilate us during Friday prayers from Iran, to Iraq, to Saudi Arabia, to Pakistan and on and on.

The shame is not how Trump articulates his beliefs. The shame is in denouncing him without denouncing the others.

Until Trump makes such threats we should all ask ourselves for whom the bell tolls. And then be reminded, It tolls for thee.

About the Author
Joshua Resnek is the publisher of the Jewish Journal in Boston.