This is addressed to those American Jews who continue to support President Trump, even after the latest revelation that he likely compromised Israeli intelligence by sharing it with the Russians.
When will you start holding him accountable?
When will the slights, fumbles, broken promises and extremely serious blunders, like the intelligence leak, add up in your minds? When is enough truly enough?
You, the new power elite, are arguably the only Jews in America outside the administration who seem to have his ear. When will use your favored access to speak truth to this out-of-control power?
The majority of American Jews did not vote for Trump, but those who did — about 24%, according to most surveys — did so largely because they believed his policies would be more advantageous to the current Israeli government than President Obama’s were and that Hillary Clinton’s would be. Yes, there were other issues at play, such as school vouchers and cultural touchstones of the sort that tie Orthodox Jews more closely to white evangelical Christians than to other Jews.
But Israel and its satellite issues (the nuclear deal with Iran, fighting “radical Islamic terrorism,” etc.) were the salient subjects. And given that priority, I can imagine why you, his supporters, forgave him for the rhetorical missteps early in his tenure.
Like when the White House inexplicably left Jews out of its statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day and then sent out Trump’s controversial counterterrorism aide, Sebastian Gorka, to defend the mistake, only to have him call the criticism “asinine.”
Or the gaffes that continue to this day. Like when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Palestine rather than to the more diplomatically acceptable (and accurate) Palestinian territories.
When the president berated an Orthodox Jewish reporter on national television for asking him a softball question? Oh, that’s just Trump being Trump, many reasoned. And when he stood right next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defied decades of American and Israeli policy by dismissing the two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict? Ditto.
I won’t even ask you to imagine your reaction to these events if the president in question were Barack Obama. I won’t even go there.
Because there are more substantive mistakes and broken promises to contend with that go beyond the rhetorical. Candidate Trump pledged to immediately tear up the “disastrous deal with Iran.” He has not.
He pledged to immediately move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He has not.
In fact, the administration is so incoherent about whether and when and how the embassy may or may not move that even Trump’s most devoted Jewish donor, Sheldon Adelson, has reportedly lost his patience.
It should be obvious by now that this is a president who cannot and will not keep his word. Perhaps you, his supporters, still will give him a pass. He’s surely not the first president to break a promise or two.
But his disclosure of highly classified information to senior Russian officials is of a more dangerous and more consequential magnitude. As The Washington Post editorial board declared: “The consequences of the president’s lapse could be far-reaching. In addition to disrupting a vital flow of intelligence and possibly endangering agents on the ground, Mr. Trump has let the world know that he and his administration cannot be trusted with sensitive information.”
Translation: The president has seemingly disrupted the flow of information from Israel, America’s most important ally in the Middle East; he has potentially endangered Israeli lives, and he has signaled to Israel — which is highly dependent on its intelligence relationship with the United States — that he and his administration cannot be trusted.
And this was the pro-Israel president of your dreams?
Truth is, many American Jews think it is wise not to tear up the Iran deal, or to move the embassy when Jerusalem’s status is not finalized. But they didn’t vote for Trump. You did.
So I ask you to explain how you can still support a leader who cannot be trusted to protect the country that is supposed to be his very best friend. Silence will not do here. Silence is acquiescence, approval and, in my opinion, morally suspect.
ABC News is reporting that the life of an Israeli spy embedded with the Islamic State group is now at risk because of the president’s unconscionable mistake.
Had enough yet?
Contact Jane Eisner at email@example.com or on Twitter, @Jane_Eisner
Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, is writer-at-large at the Forward and the 2019 Koeppel Fellow in Journalism at Wesleyan University. For more than a decade, she was editor-in-chief of the Forward, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national news organization. Under her leadership, the Forward’s digital readership grew significantly, and won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.