December 12, 2016

Trump and Jews: Vigilant Optimism

Trump and Jews: Vigilant Optimism

There are worrying signs but we should judge President-elect Trump on his time in office, says Jack Rosen, President of the American Jewish Congress.

As Julius Caesar once said: “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.” Today, we all make decisions quickly, snap judgements in the heat of the moment based on our biases and instincts, and not necessarily on the full facts. Waiting, giving ourselves that chance to assess a new reality, is as difficult as ever.

We have witnessed one of the bloodiest elections in living memory. Many things were said in the heat of battle, many inappropriate, some shocking, others outrageous. President-elect Donald Trump and his team must be held to account for some of his comments, but we also owe it to our country to take our time and see future actions before rushing to judgement.

Within days, we have already seen President-elect Trump change his mind from some of his most hardline proposals. The idea that he would look to prosecute Hillary Clinton seemed far-fetched at the time and so it has proven. There have also been re-assessments when it comes to policy areas such as Obamacare, NATO and others. It may be hard, but it is in all our interests to give Donald Trump a chance before writing him off, along with his administration and by extension our democracy.

However, we can’t duck the fact that Jews in the U.S. are wary of the President-elect. A wave of anti-Semitism has seeped into the public consciousness and has infiltrated both sides of the political debate. Whilst this type of abuse is common across parts of Europe, we have been privileged to live in a society where Jewish people haven’t just been accepted but have also been embraced. But, this election shows that people are rejecting mainstream political ideas. The rise in anti-Semitic incidents cannot be treated as a coincidence and must be taken seriously.

We all know that there are significant challenges posed by Trump’s election to the Jewish community. His pre-election commercial, which referred to “those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interest,” had worrying anti-Semitic overtones. This was present during the campaign and became more intense in the last few weeks. Further concerns have been raised about the President-elect’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist. But we would be wrong to jump to conclusions, and the administration’s actions over the next few months will give us a clear idea as to how they intend to behave in office.

That is not just a Republican problem, Democratic Representative Keith Ellison, who is widely considered a frontrunner to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee, formerly defended Minister Louis Farrakhan, a spokesman for the religious group Nation of Islam which espouses anti-Semitism. As the public look for change, fringe voices are going to become part of the mainstream.

The early signs are that the President-elect will tackle the problem. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has already leapt to Trump’s defence and pointed to 25 occasions where he has denounced the KKK. We need to be prepared, if Trump’s administration, or any political leader, does not take steps to quash anti-Semitism, we need to call them out and hold them to account.

Our society has seen waves of immigrants from all over the world, living together, side by side, with people of other backgrounds and faith. I fully expect President-elect Trump as a New Yorker to not only realize this, but to embrace it. He has lived in the most diverse city on earth all his life. He has become a part of its culture and is aware of how our society works. I could not imagine that he would not want to take that inclusivity forward and ensure it is part of his administration.

Trump’s pre-election promises about Israel signify that he will take a very different approach to the country than the current Obama administration. He has promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and seems set on creating stronger ties with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. When I met with the Israeli leader last week, we recognized both countries are at the forefront of innovation and technology.

An ever closer bond between the two countries will be beneficial to both parties. On Iran, Trump has made it clear that he is willing to challenge the nuclear agreement that is currently a direct threat to both the USA and Israel. While we cannot ignore domestic issues, making progress in the Middle East could set a positive tone for Trump’s relationship with the Jewish community.

We cannot be complacent. There are worrying signs. However, we should judge our new president on his actions in Office and not on the tone of his campaign. The jury is still out as to what his long-term relationship with the Jewish community will be, but I choose to look forward with optimism rather than knee-jerk criticism.

2.33 avg. rating (56% score) - 3 votes
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Jack Rosen
Jack Rosen is the Chairman of the American Jewish Congress, an association of Jewish Americans who are committed to ensuring the survival and security of Israel, and protecting Jewish communities around the world. Mr Rosen also founded the Council for World Jewry, an organization within the framework of the AJC. Rosen is very active in government and political affairs, as well as a number of public interest organizations. He and is also Chief Executive of a New York Real Estate firm, Rosen Partners LLC.
  • Enoch Powell

    Usually articles here are ok, but this one is utter trash. There is not one thing Trump has said that indicates he has any anti semitic feeling whatsoever. Is this riding the bandwagon over the appointment of Stephen K. Bannon whom the MSM has falsely claimed is anti semitic? Despite the fact that he employed numerous Jews at Breitbart. In which case the author should be ashamed. If you want to investigate someone who is clearly a danger to Jews, they are easy enough to find. They infest Britain’s Labour party up to and including its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. No need to tilt at windmills when the real dangers are so clear and obvious. This looks and smells like a Trump hit piece. Not having it.

  • starfish

    those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interest,” had worrying anti-Semitic overtones”

    No it doesn’t unless you accept the ‘global Jewish conspiracy’ pedlars

    It was a clear reference to the establishment, the denizens of the ‘swamp’ that Trump has consistently maintained that he will drain

  • Bosanova

    “No it doesn’t unless you accept the ‘global Jewish conspiracy’ pedlars”
    Succintly put and I quite agree. It would seem that to be anti-elite is to be an anti-semite. This is a non-sequitur and entirely false premise upon which to base any supposition of anti-semitism. The sad reality is that there is much more anti-semitism to be found on the modern left wing than there is on the right.
    Moreover, there have been as many acusations of anti-semitism against the Clintons as there have been against Trump. Why is it only the later that are given creedence? And let’s not even start on the KKK’s well established historical connections with the Democratic party (the party of slavery and segregation) and HRC’s praise for deceased Democrat senator and former KKK Grand Wizard Robert C. Byrd. Yet, via some spurious (il)logical resoning that equates anti-elitism with anti-semitism, with not a word against Jews or Isreal to be found, we are supposed to believe that Trump is an anti-semite. The argument doesn’t stand up.

  • EllenO

    Just lefty invented imagined anti-semitism.

    Trump is the best thing that has happened to Jews in a generation. They were celebrating his victory all over Israel. I was there I saw it.

    And this befuddled twit Rosen produces convoluted arguments to somehow slip in that Trump might, just might, be anti-Jewish. I guess his Jewish son-in-law must be quaking in his boots.

    Sorry Jack the left sneaky BS is not going to work anymore.

  • Tom Atkins

    ok (((rosen))) good job

    of course, if things get hairy, you guys all got the escape hatch of dual nationality…

  • Tom Atkins

    look who wrote it

    tragi-comic bias

  • ratcatcher11

    Anti semitism is rife in the modern day Labour Party as it tries to gain votes from the UK moslem community where anti semitism and anti Christianity forms part of the moslem religion. There are more moslems than Jews in the Uk although with Labours pro Nazi history especially with Labour politicians such as Mosley supporting Hitler, it is no wonder.

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