Trump: Someday you people will explain to me what you’re doing

During the presidential primary campaign earlier this year, the JTA quoted President-elect Donald Trump as making the following statement: “In my opinion, Barack Obama has been tremendously disloyal to Israel, and yet my Jewish friends go out and have fundraisers for him all the time. Someday you people will explain to me what you’re doing.

Fixing the world a central precept in Jewish tradition

My answer as to why many of Mr Trump’s Jewish friends supported Barack Obama is the following: One of the main precepts of Judaism is tikkun olam (repair of the world). In modern culture tikkun olam is widely perceived as “the thesis that Jews bear responsibility not only for their own moral, spiritual and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large.”

Jews are often in the vanguard of movements for justice and social change. Hence, fighting against poverty, social injustice, discrimination (race, religion, sex, gender, age) and the destruction of nature and wildlife habitats would all be considered part of a common effort to make the world a better place. Since the Democrats are perceived (rightly or wrongly) as those who offer minorities, the poor and the elderly chances for a better life, American Jews overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates. Opinion polls show that Israel is not a major issue when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate.

In the recent US elections much of the media overtly campaigned for Hillary Clinton, portraying her as the champion of those who cherish all that is progressive while ignoring questions such as arrogance, manipulation and pandering to the highest bidder. By so clearly taking sides the media became part of the problem. Because the Trump campaign was often considered as supportive of conventional right-wing ideas, the president-elect garnered only a quarter of the Jewish vote.

Israelis were more likely to support Trump

However, Israeli Jews were far more likely to support Trump than were Europeans. Only around 8 percent of Germans, French or English indicated a tentative support of Trump compared to some 27 percent of Israelis (of whom only 42 percent would have voted for Clinton). And Trump defeated Clinton (49% to 44%) in an exit-poll held among US citizens voting from Israel. Moreover the newspaper known for openly supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Hayom consistently wrote favorably about the Trump candidacy.

Trump could surprise everyone

In order to gain support from the Jewish mainstream as well as other population groups the future president could surprise everyone by becoming a visionary, a champion of those whose very existence is threatened the further we move into the 21st century.

Issues such as overpopulation, ageing, pollution and the destruction of our forests, seas and natural habitats are not necessarily ‘left-wing’. By incorporating these issues into his agenda and offering innovative solutions President-elect Trump could become a leader who would unify the country, while at the same time broadening his base for a second term.

Israeli could help these policies succeed

Israel, which is playing an increasingly important role in the development of new technologies, could help these policies succeed.

The greatest threat to the environment and the main cause of poverty is overpopulation. Because intellectuals, politicians and the media in general ignore the issue of explosive population growth, which is a ticking time bomb, the destruction of our environment continues unabated.

According to a report released by the United Nations last year, the world’s population is projected to grow from 7.3 billion in 2015 until 9.7 billion in 2050. Africa would account for most of the increase, its population rising from more than 1.2 billion today to 2.5 billion in 2050. So far, no world leader has offered a plan to reverse explosive population growth.

Destruction of forests, seas and animal species clear to everyone

No matter what one thinks about the causes of global warming, the pollution of our seas, the destruction of the world’s forests and the annihilation of animal species is clear to everyone. By involving business in a worldwide effort to save our forests, seas and wildlife President-elect Trump could become the world’s greatest environmental champion.

Ageing is another of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, since a significant segment of the population in Western democracies will soon consist of people beyond what is now considered the retirement age. One must meet this challenge by educating and finding work for an increasingly youthful senior population. In Jewish culture the elderly (as well as children) are treated as equals and with respect. Shimon Peres was a shining example of what senior citizens can achieve. Israeli culture, medicine and technology can help meet the challenges of increasing lifespans by turning them into benefits.

About the Author
Asaf Shimoni is an author, journalist and translator who returned to Israel in 2016 after spending 40 years abroad, most of them in the Netherlands. He grew up near Boston, made aliyah while living on a kibbutz (from 1973 to 1976), and graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. He also lived some 5 years in Sicily. He believes that the media should be as critical and truthful as possible.
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