Facing Our Demons Straight

So let me get this straight. The President of the United States went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his First Lady and his Jewish daughter and son-in-law to honor the eleven Jews shot while worshiping in a synagogue, and 2,000 citizens thought this was a fine opportunity to picket him for ostensibly being a racist? Clearly age and its encroachments have wreaked havoc on my sensibilities. Somehow my 60-year-old eyes cannot see how this behavior helps the cause those demonstrators purport to espouse.

Look, if you have a beef with the President over what you perceive as a reluctance to disavow some practitioners of a toxic brand of nationalism, go ahead and speak out at moments where his behavior reflects your charge. But you are bringing a mostly Jewish crowd out into the streets to protest at the very moment he is honoring the Jewish People? If you think there is something insincere in what he is doing, something his own daughter and son-in-law are failing to catch, keep it to yourself. When a person is behaving graciously to you, it is good manners to accept graciously. Wasn’t it Confucius who warned — forgive the cultural appropriation — that if you look a gift horse in the mouth you may bite off more than you can chew?

Then again, Jews have never been very good at politics outside of synagogue boards. Somehow they miss the locomotives bearing down on them at high speeds while attributing loco motives to those who hold out hands of friendship. As a people, they have been far more adept at seeing business trends than political ones.

The State of Israel was supposed to change all that, of course, and for some it has. Some heroes, like the recently deceased Ruth Matar, who gave up her thriving jewelry design business to fight the false flag of the Oslo Accords, have learned to adopt the hard-nosed vision of Menachem Begin. “If I have a country full of Jews to protect, I have to take all who threaten it at their word.” But those whose political proclivities have been sinistral fail to see the sinister side of the Palestinians and their enablers attacking Israel, failing as well to see the good side of the President who stood up for Israel and built an embassy in Jerusalem.

The late Mayor of New York City, Edward I. Koch, did not practice Judaism very actively, but he had his head screwed on right, particularly after it was struck by a stone thrown by Palestinians while he toured Jerusalem with its late mayor, Teddy Kollek. In limerick form we might say:

A pair of mayors named Ted and Ed
Were accosted by a rock to the head
They took no proper gander
At the fast-balling right-hander
But tolerance for evildoers was dead.

Afterward the Mayor hosted a radio show on WABC, where he regularly scolded his fellow secular Jews for not standing with American Christians to support fully the State of Israel. Callers would plaintively “educate” him on the nefarious designs of the Evangelical Right: “Don’t you know they want Israel to defeat its enemies as part of a vision that ends with Jesus reappearing as the Messiah?” Mayor Ed was quick with his rejoinder: “I am happy to accept their friendship and help. I happen to think the Messiah will be a contemporary Jew, they have a different idea. I welcome the coming of the Messiah, and at that time it will be clear which of us had it right.”

As a Jew of a dextral orientation, it’s unlikely the Pittsburgh demonstrators will heed my counsel. They fear the white hoods of the KKK but welcome the black hoods of Antifa. The Koch brothers are the bad Gentiles while father and son Soros are the good Jews. Hillary Clinton writes Sidney Blumenthal to praise his son Max’s latest diatribe against Israel, and my Pittsburgh brethren put down their pickets in a race to cast ballots for her. Obama delivers cash to the Iranians to murder Israelis with, he’s the hero; Trump shuts off funding to UNRWA for funneling money to Palestinian murderers, he’s the zero.

Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., got it right. He said; “President Trump said if you set out to destroy the Jews, we will destroy you. No world leader in my lifetime has ever made such a powerful statement.” The spiritual leader of Tree of Life handled the visit with aplomb, welcoming the President and his family wholeheartedly. The hospital staff in Pittsburgh gave the Trumps a standing ovation when they visited the injured. But the loudest noise was made by the demonstrators.

The word “demonstrate” has significance in Jewish law, because Jews are obligated to demonstrate to the world that keeping the Torah makes them better and wiser people. The Talmud (Yoma 86a) teaches:

We are instructed (Deuteronomy 6) ‘And you shall love God, Your Lord’, that you shall cause the Name of God to be beloved through your actions. You should read and study and become disciples of scholars. Your interactions with people should be pleasant. What will people say of you? ‘Fortunate is his father who taught him Torah. Fortunate is his teacher who taught him Torah. Alas for those people who have not studied Torah. That student of Torah, look how nice his manners are, look how correct his actions are’!

Let us demonstrate by all means. Demonstrate gratitude and appreciation by thanking President Trump and his family for showing respect to lives of decent people who saw the Devil up close and chose to take the hand of God.

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Author: Jay D. Homnick