The election of Donald J. Trump has thrust a number of self-righteous Jews on the left into a state of apoplexy. They lash out at his family, policies and anyone who associates with him.
Jared Kushner, his wife and extended family are relentlessly maligned. Other Jews connected or involved in any way with the Trump administration are fair game for verbal abuse, for having violated some alleged Jewish value.
Among those who have joined this assault is Jonathan Freedland, a columnist for English newspaper the Guardian. In an article in The Jewish Chronicle, the London-based Jewish weekly, entitled “Jews Must Oppose Trump’s New Order,” Freedland attacked Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, for blessing President Trump at his inauguration.
Freedland quotes Rabbi Jason Miller, an American Conservative rabbi, who claims Simon “Wiesenthal must be rolling in his grave knowing that the dean… of the center that bears his name will be bestowing a blessing on a man who bolstered his presidential campaign by genuflecting to the alt-right—a group that includes neo-Nazis and Holocaust-deniers. That Rabbi Hier would stand on such a public stage in front of the world and offer a blessing for a man who refused to distance himself from David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is completely anathema to his life’s work.”
Having served as director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and having worked closely with Rabbi Hier and Simon Wiesenthal, I find Freeland’s assault on Rabbi Hier to be absurd, irresponsible and scurrilous.
Rabbi Marvin Hier’s participation in the inauguration was a true Kiddush Hashem, and not an act of “unprincipled opportunism,” as Freedland suggested. Rabbi Hier was selected because he is an internationally admired and respected independent moral voice.
For Rabbi Miller to claim that Wiesenthal would be “rolling in his grave” is ludicrous. I have no doubt that Simon Wiesenthal would have been extremely proud of Rabbi Hier’s participation and message. Inexplicably, Freedland did not mention that Rabbi Hier unequivocally protested when candidate Trump proposed a Muslim registry and the deportation of 12 million illegals. Nor, in contradistinction, is there a record of Freedland’s disapproval of the overt anti-Semitism of Rev. Wright and his longstanding relationship with Barack Obama.
Rabbi Hier’s remarks could not have been more appropriate: “Bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation. Guide us to remember the words of the psalmist,” “Dispense justice for the needy and the orphan…For they have no one but their fellow citizens, and because a nation’s wealth is measured by her values, not by her vaults!” May the days come soon when: “…justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace … quietness and confidence forever.”
And frankly, every lover of Zion was moved when Rabbi Hier said to an American audience of 31 million viewers: “Bless all our allies who share our beliefs. ‘By the rivers of Babylon we wept as we remembered Zion….If I forget thee o’ Jerusalem may my right hand forget it’s skill…’” (Psalm 137).
Quite telling that Rabbi Hier was excoriated in real time by thousands of anti-Semites, and now by Freedland. My hope is that there are enough proud Jews in the UK to stand proudly with Israel and for human rights in the public square embodied in Rabbi Hier’s remarks.
By Alex Grobman, PhD
Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, is a consultant to the America-Israel Friendship League, a member of the Council of Scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and a member of the Advisory Board of The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).