Viewpoint: Mr. Shipley, you have it all wrong about Trump

 

March 12, 2021



I was outraged when I read Jim Shipley’s rambling column “Unleashing the Hounds of Hell” in the Feb. 26 Heritage. Mr. Shipley seems intent to continue to stoke the fires of Trump hatred, even though he is out of office. He makes undue assumptions about President Trump’s mindset and intentions and perpetuates lies and inaccuracies.

I was first struck by Shipley’s statement that when President Trump was elected in 2016 “We did not know a whole lot about the guy.” Donald Trump had been in the public eye in New York City for most of his adult life and had been on TV for many years. He was Grand Marshall of New York’s Israel Day Parade in 2004, 11 years before running for president. He has surrounded himself with Jews in his personal life and his businesses.

I’ll skip Shipley’s disdain for our presidential primary system and electoral college and jump to his lukewarm statement that “He promoted relations between Arab nations and the Jewish State.” President Trump did much more than that for Israel. He and his administration brokered historic agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. These were the first peace agreements between Israel and Muslim nations in over 25 years. Moreover, I believe the UAE and Bahrain must have had tacit approval from Saudi Arabia. While the hostility of Iran toward the Sunni Arab states and the commercial and high-tech benefits of a relationship with Israel were certainly major factors, President Trump and his negotiating team astutely seized on these factors as a means for improved relations between the Gulf States and Israel.

Shipley then hauled out his “grandmother’s measuring stick”: “Is it good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?” He mentioned the far-right anti-Semites who felt emboldened by President Trump’s election. He mentioned the far-right mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. While I condemn the assault on the Capitol, I believe it would have happened, whether or not President Trump spoke. I know Jewish people who were at the Capitol and did not enter. They were there to protest peacefully, as President Trump told the crowd to do, and as the overwhelming majority of the people did.

The events of Jan. 6 and their causes are national issues, not Jewish issues per se. Let’s stick to Shipley’s “grandmother’s measuring stick”: Was Trump good for the Jews?

After the horrific synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway President Trump said: “The Jews have endured terrible persecution, and you know that we’ve all read it. We’ve studied it. They’ve gone through a lot and those seeking their destruction … we will seek their destruction.” No American president ever aligned himself so fully with the jewish people or committed himself so clearly to our protection and survival.

I’ve just returned from attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. There was a significant contingent of Jews including many from our southern states. My wife and I celebrated Purim and Shabbat at events organized by the Young Jewish Conservatives, together with many Modern Orthodox participants who advocated conservative political principles. I believe they are better judges of what is “good for the Jews” than Mr. Shipley. They were passionate supporters of President Trump and his policies, which the Conference enthusiastically endorsed. Mr. Shipley, by contrast, expressed many typical sentiments of northeastern liberals and oozed disdain for “the Deep RED South.” Such disdain is certainly “not good for the Jews.”

I also consider Professor Alan Dershowitz, a well-known and brilliant legal scholar and a lifelong political liberal, a better judge of what is “good for the Jews” than Mr. Shipley. Dershowitz spoke at the signing of President Trump’s historic executive order against college campus anti-Semitism, which comes mostly from the political left. He said that there has been “no more important event to turn universities away from being bastions of hatred and discrimination … It is a game changer. It will go down in history as one of the most important events in the 2,000-year battle against anti-Semitism ….”

Donald Trump has done more than any president to support Jews in the U.S. and to safeguard the State of Israel. He deserves our thanks — not snark and condemnation.

Rabbi Sanford Olshansky is a member of the national Leadership Circle of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

 

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