If I were an American Jew, I would unquestionably support Donald Trump for president. Granted, he is brash, headstrong and bumptious – it would be better if he were not. Granted, too, his sweeping statements against immigration were ill-advised. But for me, Trump’s greatest virtue
is his outspoken support for Israel and the Jewish people. Beyond that, I believe what’s good for Jews is good for America, as with Britain and all other decent democracies.
When I watched Trump addressing the AIPAC conference, I momentarily believed the festival had arrived early. Was this real? Could a potential US president, a contender for the most powerful position in the western world, really be saying this? I have rarely heard a gentile politician fulminate so glowingly about Israel. It was music to the ears to hear a speech so full of condemnation for all that is despicable – terrorism, Islamic hatred, Hamas, Palestinian violence, Iran and so on. And from a man who expressed such joy at the prospect of his Jewish grandchild-to-be!
The late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was arguably the most eloquent, unapologetic politician in the country’s history in advocating Israel’s case on the international stage.
His articulation of the historic folly of appeasement – be it of the Nazis, the Soviet Union, and the Arabs, was unparalleled. If Trump were to continue consistently along the lines of his AIPAC speech, he would – as a non-Jew – be every bit as effective as Begin. His critics maintain he cannot be trusted. They say he is capable of whimsically changing his policies to play to every gallery.
Maybe so. However, I doubt anyone could find any public policy statement Trump has made that is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. On that, he is pretty consistent.
So why are so many American Jews opposed to Trump? I suggest it’s because – almost endemically – much of American Jewry is childishly liberal. It believes, based on past persecution elsewhere, that Jews must be allied with every ‘civil rights’ or ‘anti-racist’ movement going. It is blindly addicted to the wish-washy Democratic Party, despite its production of highly unsympathetic personalities such as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
It refuses to come to terms with the fact that the most pernicious anti-Semites of today come from the political left, and the Islamic extremists with whom it has forged the unholiest alliance.
Although in most trends and fashions, America tends to lead Britain, in the area of naive liberalism, Anglo-Jewry has grown up first and moved rightwards. For many reasons. First, the sheer hostility of former or current Labour personalities such as Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn. Second, the horrendously anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the relentless hostility towards Israel and Jews at universities, much of which finds support within the Labour Party.
Third, by contrast, we see the pro-Israel and pro-Jewish enthusiasm emanating from David Cameron, Michael Gove, Theresa May and so many other senior Conservative figures. This is a vast improvement on the way things used to be when, notwithstanding Margaret Thatcher’s personal friendship, the Conservatives sported a craven, sinister ‘camel corps’ that included Lord Carrington, Ian Gilmour and Douglas Hurd.
The Board of Deputies and other “establishment” organisations, like their counterparts in America, were also painfully leftist years ago. Thankfully, much has changed.
The board’s leadership, reflecting the community as a whole, is now far more conservative in its outlook. Political realities have forced it to recognise where today’s anti-Semitic dangers really come from.
So, back to Trump. I would offer this message to our trans-Atlantic brethren. When a right-wing personality stands up and advocates for Israel, the Jewish religion and Jewish causes, do not kick him in the teeth. Don’t dismiss his declarations with righteous indignation and feel you must be more American than the Americans. Don’t accuse him of being racist, unless he clearly is.
Show appreciation, if not with words then at least with votes since, in this unstable world, Jews need all the friends we can get. Besides, would you rather see America run by an unreliable potential Arabist like Hillary Clinton?