The defining feature of the term Yehudi (Jew) is the principle of hakarat hatov (gratitude). One is free to disagree with former President Donald J. Trump, but it’s an utter disgrace for our community to violate our moral obligation to show hakarat hatov to President Trump for his extraordinary record on matters of concern to Israel and the Jewish community.
It’s inconceivable for many that the greatest friend the Jewish people have ever had in a position of political power (outside of the Jewish state itself) doesn’t come packaged in post-modern-social-justice-wokeness wrapping. Expressing this too loudly will likely subject you to cheirem by the Gedolei Twitter and Chachmei Instagram. Truth is sometimes inconvenient (to one’s social media standing or otherwise). But that does not make it any less truthful.
Our liberal Jewish friends justify being so venomous in this case because, they tell us, President Trump was the de facto leader of the neo-Nazi movement. Voters (including the vast majority of Orthodox voters) didn’t buy that claim in 2016. So, our friends were downright giddy when President Trump’s response to the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, provided them the opportunity to shove a big “I told you so!” down everyone’s throats, despite the facts not matching the mantra. A quick glance at the evidence that allegedly proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump was the second coming of Hitler demonstrates that their smoking gun was bogus.
In that famous press conference, immediately following the Charlottesville protests over statues of confederate soldiers, President Trump said the following: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name. So you know what, it’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people—and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists—because they should be condemned totally.”
In short, President Trump condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists. He also said that not everyone who protests tearing down Robert E. Lee statues is a neo-Nazi or white supremacist. Perhaps that latter sentiment offends knee-jerk armchair quarterbacks who prefer to paint all their political opponents as the devil, but it certainly does not make President Trump a bigot.
With anti-Semites like President Trump, who needs friends? No anti-Semites in our history made extraordinary efforts to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, eliminate existential threats to the Jewish people like the Iran nuclear deal, combat anti-Semitism in international organizations and on college campuses or broker peace deals between Israel and Arab nations that the so-called “experts” said were impossible. Our ancestors, who faced thousands of years of pogroms, could have only dreamed of Jew-haters like him.
It has been said that nearly every home belonging to a Misnagdic Jew in Russia 100 years ago included pictures of the following three people: The Vilna Gaon, Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spektor and Sir Moses Montefiore. The first two because of their Torah scholarship and community leadership. The third, for his extraordinary financial contributions and commitment to the Jewish community. And if you visited the home of a liberal Jew after WWII, you were likely to find a photo of FDR on the wall. President Donald J. Trump has earned a space on our community’s walls. At minimum, even if you believe that a photo of President Trump clashes with your home decor style, he most certainly deserves your prayers and your gratitude.
Hakarat hatov. It’s in our DNA. And President Trump deserves it. Thank you.Name Withheld Upon Request