Was it Really Worth it?

It was dinner time in Jerusalem when Donald Trump addressed his supporters waiting for him on the Ellipse just south of the White House.

Over supper, we watched live as he spewed his lies, Big and small. I listened to his unsettling stream of consciousness interspersed with a few sentences that he read verbatim, which had subjects and predicates.  

In an America that has suffered 360,000 COVID-related deaths and 22 million cases, his audience was mostly unmasked. No one in a position of authority had done more to play down the pandemic’s dangers than Trump. No one in charge set a worse public health example for people around the world than Trump.

However, incitement, not COVID, was on Trump’s agenda yesterday.

Trump told the mob-to-be that he had been cheated of victory and stabbed in the back by disloyal Republicans. And that he would march with them to the Capitol (which was one of the smallest fibs of his presidency). Then he got into his limousine and went back to the White House.

Next, what Trump and his enablers had threatened would happen – happened. As his supporters marched on the Capitol, others already there began storming the doors of Congress.

The next thing we knew, Trump’s cretins were disporting themselves on the House and Senate floors and in the Speaker’s offices (images that will forever sully the history books).

What, I wondered, are my Trump-supporting family, friends, and former comrades making of all this.

Some of them drank the cool aide. My Cousin A in Brooklyn thinks Trump is the best president in US history flaws and all. He hates everything and everyone Trump hates: socialists, leftists, Democrats, and anti-Trump Jews. To keep pure, he watches only Fox, listens exclusively to Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and reads only The New York Post. Cousin A is neither Jewishly observant nor rich, he feels empowered by Trump’s aggrieved message. He believes Trump. That the president is also pro-Israel only solidifies A’s absolute devotion.  

My better off Trumpian friends and former comrades have fewer illusions about the man.

They have shilled for him and contorted themselves to see past what he said or how he behaved because “he was good for Israel” or upheld conservative causes or both. They have embraced his inflammatory populism because, they said, it is the only way political power can be wielded in the age we are in. And they generally like the direction Trump’s policies are taking America.

Some also identify with Trump’s opposition to healthcare and his belligerent stance in America’s culture war.

Every one of my friends, family, and old comrades will have an alibi to explain why they linked up with Trump. For almost all, pro-Israelism will play a role.

However, the claim of Trump’s pro-Israelism does not paper over his peccatum mortale.

I never denied that having Trump in office was — comparatively speaking — good for Israel. I just never thought that should be anyone’s yardstick, given the stakes.

That Arnold Rothstein, Dutch Schultz, Bugsy Siegel, and Meyer Lansky were good to their mothers did not mitigate their criminality.

Whatever good Trump did for Israel – and this is not the place to parse his policies or motives – the damage he has done to the US does not mitigate his trampling of the Madisonian model of democracy.

That he was “good for Israel” does mitigate the insurgency he led against the American political system. It does not ease the damage he has caused to the fabric of democracy and the terrible example he set for children.

Trump is the most successful demagogue in American history – and having him as a “friend of Israel” has to be a mixed blessing.  An embarrassment, actually.

The “good for Israel” claim did not justify his manipulation of the federal government and the presidency to harm his perceived political enemies.

The “good for Israel” argument did not explain away Trump’s flirtation with the extreme white/right. No one in government authority has done more to catalyze repulsive conspiracy theories than Trump.

I know CNN has a history of anti-Israel bias (as do many media outlets), but the “good for Israel” claim does not justify intimidation of the media by a sitting president.

Trump’s presence has been corrosive to the stability of the American political system – and nothing can be worse for Israel than an America brought to its knees by a rabble-rousing president who has led it to the brink of civil war.

So, if you spent the past five years making excuses for Donald Trump or defending him or winking at his crimes and misdemeanors because he was ostensibly “good for Israel” – now is the time for soul-searching.

Consider that you may have been wrong for thinking so little of the Zionist enterprise to imagine we could not have handled Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic pressure. Or that we can’t take whatever Biden-Harris will throw at us.

You are not responsible for Donald Trump’s 1/6 attack against the United States of America, but neither should you wash your hands of any responsibility. 

God only knows what this arsonist-in-chief may yet do between now and January 20th

Let’s just pray; it has nothing to do with “helping Israel.”

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Visit elliotjager.blogspot.com for earlier writings.

Published by Elliot Jager

In my briefings and blog, I contextualize Israeli politics and explore Jewish civilization. As a collaborative editor, I make your writing clear & compelling.

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