Before I begin to write about the events of this past week, I feel the need to say a few words about myself and my own political consciousness.
I’m a former American who has lived in Israel a total of 15 years, first on a kibbutz in the 1980s and now in a small city, Rehovot. I first made aliyah with my wife and three children in 1979. In 1988, I dragged them back to the USA because I wanted to follow my father’s example and start a business, something I didn’t think I would succeed at in Israel’s tough environment. We stayed until 2014, and finally sold our business and returned to Israel.
It wasn’t until I arrived here that I realized that I had been in galut, physical and spiritual, for 26 years. Zionism and Israel had been important to me since I was in high school, but I didn’t realize how much of my identity was bound to this country and these people.
I am telling you all this because I want you to understand that my point of view is that of an Israeli, not an American. I haven’t set foot in the USA for more than six years. On the one hand, this allows me to be a somewhat more objective observer of events there. On the other, well, I’m here and you’re there.
Donald Trump was hands down the most pro-Israel president of the US since Truman, in both words and deeds. The Obama years, which I experienced both from the US and from Israel, were a nightmare, as I watched the leader of the country of my birth and the most powerful man in the world, deliberately act on behalf of our enemies, advocating policies that if carried out would result in the end of Israel. I watched him try to humiliate our Prime Minister, and even deploy antisemitic themes in his campaign to make a deal with our greatest enemy – and a bitter enemy of his own country as well – Iran.
The deal he succeeded to force through over the objections of the US Congress provided funds that the Iranian regime used to finance Hezbollah in Lebanon and pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria, which have perhaps 130,000 short- and long-range missiles aimed at Israel at this very moment. The deal neutralized the UN’s enforcement, such as it was, of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and guaranteed that with the passage of time Iran could legally develop and deploy nuclear weapons. And this despite countless promises by Iranian leaders that they would bring about the destruction of our Jewish state!
I watched with horror as the US, for the first time since the Carter Administration, allowed – indeed, arguably spearheaded – a resolution in the UN Security Council that denied Jewish rights to our holiest places.
And then President Trump came along, ended the pernicious deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions. He reaffirmed Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and the Golan, which other presidents, even the relatively friendly Clinton and Bush, had failed to do. He rejected the idea that Israel had to bear the full burden of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and stopped coddling them while they paid terrorists to murder Israelis. His administration helped bring about the normalization of relations with several Arab countries, something which was both a breakthrough toward the integration of the Jewish state with its neighbors as well as a deterrent alliance against Iranian expansionism. He turned the anti-Israeli policy of Obama around by 180 degrees.
So of course I appreciate Donald Trump. And I saw how badly he and his supporters were treated by the majority of the US media, which had given up maintaining even a pretense of objectivity when he was elected. I saw how they falsely called Trump a white supremacist and an antisemite. I saw how they lied about and twisted his words, presented everything he did in the worst possible light, accused him of treason, made fun of him, called him incompetent and even crazy. I saw how they incited hatred against him.
I also saw how the various manifestations of left-wing extremism, including the BLM organization and the campus cultural warriors, tried to push racial divisiveness, cancel culture, gender-craziness, wokespeak, and even Islamization onto Americans, many of whom find the whole package beyond abhorrent. I saw the violence and destructiveness of the riots and looting associated with BLM demonstrations, and the coercive behavior of BLM supporters. I saw how the Left denigrated the traditional American ideals of meritocracy, equality of opportunity, and free expression, in favor of identity politics. And I very definitely saw that the Left took anti-Israel positions even more extreme than those of Obama’s administration.
Trump opposed all this.
I wasn’t blind to Trump’s narcissism, his dishonesty, or his vindictiveness. But the Democratic Party today is more and more influenced by those who stand for the program of the extreme Left, and I saw – and still see – those ideas as far more dangerous for America and for Israel than Trump’s personal deficiencies.
On Wednesday, 6 January, pro-Trump demonstrators broke into the Capitol, in an attempt to stop the Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden. I don’t need to describe the events, except to say that the emotional impact on Americans and others – I can testify to that here in Israel – was enormous. Although the incident was objectively no more violent than some of this summer’s BLM activities, the symbolic significance of it can’t be minimized. It represented a violent attempt to interfere with the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election. As far as I know, this had never happened before in US history.
In the weeks between the election and 6 January, and in the rally before the break-in and his video tweet several hours later, Trump emphasized his belief that the election had been stolen. The implication was clear: they broke the law, he was the true heir apparent, and if it takes extra-constitutional actions to reverse this injustice, they are fully justified. And on 6 January, some of his supporters acted, though it should have been clear to them that they had no chance of success. Indeed their actions destroyed any credibility remaining to Trump and his movement.
There is a theory that the whole thing was a setup and the ones who invaded the Capitol were Antifa provocateurs. Why, it’s asked, would Trump incite actions that would be so damaging to himself? There may indeed have been a few provocateurs among those that entered the building, and I certainly didn’t hear Trump order anyone to attack the Capitol. But there is no doubt that his words were highly inflammatory. And he may not have considered carefully enough the consequences of inflaming a mob.
Trump’s actions and utterances since the election have come from that part of his personality that is the least attractive, and in a national leader, the most dangerous. Despite his positive accomplishments – and there are more of them than just his Middle East policies – I must condemn him for his behavior after the election. What was done to Trump by the Democratic media was unfair, even vicious. But his response was to throw a bomb at the US Constitution.
This breaks my heart, because – from a purely ideological standpoint – Trump represents American values far more than his opponents on the left. Ironically, he stands for the values of Martin Luther King Jr. far more than does BLM, which only wants to change the color of the oppressors.
Was the election fair? I have no idea, and in my opinion the truth in this matter has been so obscured by disinformation from both sides and from psychological warfare waged against the US by her enemies, that it is impossible to say. But there is a point at which Trump ought to have realized that whether he lost fairly or unfairly, he lost. And for the sake of the Constitution, his reputation, and those of his party and his country, he should have stepped aside, perhaps to fight again another day.
The consequences of this incident will be serious and long-lasting. The events of 6 January have discredited the Republican party and removed it as an obstacle in the way of the Left. Freedom of expression has also suffered, as the tech industry has begun to intervene more deeply into social media content. If the extreme Left gets control of the Biden Administration, it will be a horror show, and there will be no one to put the brakes on it.
This episode is over for now. They are cleaning up the Capitol. Next, someone needs to clean up the wreckage of the Republican party and create one that will proudly represent the traditional values that once did “make America great.” I’ll be cheering from here.