By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency
New York — October 17, 2020 … Before you click “unfriend” on Facebook as a result of one’s position on Donald Trump, take a deep breath and smile.
Unless it was truly a highly personal attack on you, do not unfriend any members of the Jewish tribe as to supporting or not supporting the next US president.
As an Israeli-American who serves as a senior cross-cultural and media adviser to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as one who has worked on both the Trump and Biden campaigns, it really depresses me to witness the wide cultural divide between Jews in the United States and Israel. If we understood where those divisions come from – we will not unfriend but simply agree to disagree.
If Israelis could vote in the next few weeks in US elections, 63% of them – according to an i24 News poll this week would apparently vote for Donald Trump, compared to only 19% for Democratic challenger Joe Biden. By contrast, according to a Pew poll also released this week, 70% of American Jews plan to vote for Biden, and only 27% for Trump.
Full disclosure: I assisted in opening Donald Trump’s first campaign office in New Hampshire. Like many, I was attracted to Trump’s confidence and mastery of marketing. I worked with Trump for 5 months. I watched him meticulously choregraph each and every move he made. He had campaign advisors but only listened to two – PR adviser Hope Hicks and Internet guru Dan Scavino. Hope recently left the campaign due to getting infected with Coronavirus and Dan is still there. When you see a Tweet coming from the White House – it is Dan who taught Trump how to do it. I left the campaign when Trump started to advocate a full ban on all Muslims coming to the United States. Although Trump soon amended the ban to include a few Muslim nations, as one who has served at IDF checkpoints and know Muslims a bit better than him, I could not be associated with this move that many view as racist.
I asked the campaign director at the time – Corey Lewandowski to walk back the ban. He refused. Or should I say – Trump refused.
Returning to the great divide between Jews in New York and Jerusalem and why one half supports Trump and other half really hates the guy comes down to cultural perceptions. Jews in Israel see only one thing – their own security.
There was no action that an American leader could have taken that had more importance to the Israeli soul and sense of security than to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although US Congress voted on making this move real in 1995 – known as the The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city, no American president had the guts to enact it. Rather, despite passage in Congress, the law allowed the President to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law, and reissue the waiver every six months on “national security” grounds. And the passage and enactment of this law transcended Zionist symbolism. It sent a message to every Jihadist that the US was with Israel in Jerusalem and they could not point to the US as a further excuse to blow up restaurants, buses, car ram Jews at bus stops and stab Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Whether you were a Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Jew, you had to agree that this was the right move. That Jerusalem has always been our cultural, biblical, historical and legal capital. To go even further, Trump recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel through a presidential proclamation signed by him on March 25, 2019. So one could now ask: what is there not to like?
As for the recent peace agreements signed between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, Israeli Jews delight in this – and we all should. Peace is a wonderful thing and the entire Middle East is beginning to understand that only real threat in the Middle East is Iran. Although Trump takes credit for having achieved this peace and in reality used his office to cement it, it was Netanyahu and the Mossad who made this peace happen after several years of negotiating with these and other Arab states.
Unknown to the Israeli living in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ra’anana or Beer Sheva, American Jews were and are now looking at their healthcare -Affordable Care Act (ACA) and social security being taken away by Trump. They also see their rights as women and or as members of the
LGBT community being taken away. Could the Israeli Jew ever conceive of their Bituach Leumi or national insurance being removed?
And the Jewish people, immigrants to many nations who have suffered greatly over centuries and are subject to an abundance of anti-semitism, did not care for and were disgusted by Trump’s immigration policies including separating families and children on the US southern border.
Israelis do not witness the constant, daily bashing by Trump of a free press, attacks on the FBI, CIA, NSA, NATO, the CDC and FDA.
Israelis belong to a culture which is known as polychronic where relationships have the highest priorities. Americans come from a monochronic culture which is based on rules. If you plan to meet someone at 1 P.M., the Israeli may arrive at 1:20 and be warmly received with a cup of coffee, while in the States, if you arrive at 1:20 you could be criticized for not respecting the time of the person you are supposed to meet.
Israelis are drawn to Trump’s personality, not policies.
And when they are questioned about Trump – they point to the American embassy. They simply overlook Trump allowing Turkey and Syria murdering Israel’s close allies the Kurds, they do not care about Trump withdrawing US troops from Syria and Iraq – an invite for Iran and ISIS to fill the void, they are not even aware that as you read this story, Trump is trying to sell the most advanced combat jet, the F-35, to Israel’s enemies.
Lastly, Israelis who are doing the right thing with a harsh but realistic lockdown to kill the Coronavirus, are not aware that Trump has called the virus a hoax, refuses to wear a face mask and even censors the CDC and FDA to get life saving information out to the American public. American Jews like all who live in the United States are frightened for their and their children’s lives. Trump has offered no national plan to fight the virus and even states that Covid-19 is “turning the corner” as it is actually surging in every state. He wants to ignore it as he knows he was negligent in not placing a total ban on China and Europe in the first quarter of 2020 and allowed the virus to kill over 217,000 and infect over 8 million.
What many Israeli Jews also do not understand is that most American Jews support Israel and do not support the extreme Left. They do not support Congresswoman Ilhan Omar or Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Americans see Israelis as being arrogant, when we are actually being confident and Israelis see Americans as being phoney, when they are actually being polite.
Trump comes off as arrogant. Israelis love it and see him as family.
Americans see a totally different picture – of a man who is mentally disabled. In fact, it is not only American Jewish Democrats that believe Trump is mentally unfit – but recently a group of 73 former U.S. National Security officials who served under GOP administrations, including former CIA and FBI chiefs, have endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly has told friends that President Donald Trump “is the most flawed person” he’s ever known. “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” the retired Marine general has told friends.
As Herb Keinon writes in the Jerusalem Post: “Israeli and American Jews are forming judgments regarding the US presidential race from their own particular perspective and vantage points. And while that may seem obvious, it is something each side needs to bear in mind before slamming the other for the ‘short-sightedness’ of their particular choice.”
Stop unfriending your Jewish friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Agree to disagree. Please know that dividing ourselves is something that the Russians, Iranians, Neo-Nazis and every anti-semite takes great pleasure in witnessing.