I’m having an existential crisis, and I can’t find the means to do anything but to sit on a fence, which, I must admit, is nowhere to be when the stakes are so high.
You see, as a Jew, I am absolutely enamored with President Trump for keeping his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s historical and eternal capital, Jerusalem. Many presidents have promised to do this, but then have always reneged and changed their minds.
I also embrace President Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. gift of $200 million to UNWRA to assist the Palestinians, whose leadership have only used such funds for graft and promoting further conflict with Israel. I totally support his choice of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, whose outspoken criticism and fearless speeches against the Palestinian/Hamas terror campaigns bring tears of pride to me, for she is finally publicly saying what should have been said so long ago.
I embrace President Trump’s tariffs on products from Iran and Turkey, the leaders of which speak of the elimination of Israel, Zionism and Jews. I love the way he stands up to dictators, authoritarians and threatening leaders around the world. President Trump is the American leader unencumbered by diplomatic niceties; the outspoken leader of a powerful country afraid of no one. This is my leader, and in all of this I am so proud of him.
I am also amazed at how the American economy has climbed to stratospheric heights under his leadership with historically low unemployment. For all this, I’d vote for him hands down, eyes closed and feet willing me to the polls.
But I am also an American, although you’d never guess by my British accent, and I am so very fearful of his inability to be presidential in values, morals and behavior expected from the most powerful leader of the free world leading the most powerful country in the world.
For what has emerged from recent trials of his henchmen, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen (and yet more to come), is a very sad story of potential greatness having exploded into crimes and felonies, the likes of which we have not seen since disgraced former president Richard Nixon and the Watergate trials. Especially disheartening is the information from Michael Cohen, who said that he was directed by then-candidate Trump to use funds that had been earmarked for his presidential campaign to silence stories of affairs that Trump had with pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Clearly, during the presidential race, the most senior and trusted members of Trump’s campaign knew of hush monies being distributed to these women to cover up infidelities. All this despite Trump’s public denials. This means that — lost in his unfaithfulness to his third wife Melania — is the possibility that the president himself engaged in criminal behavior and violated campaign finance laws.
There are also questions about the Trump Foundation and whether it was used to promote his presidential campaign, which would also violate campaign finance law. You can nearly hear the voice of Sam Ervin, former head of the Watergate Congressional Committee, drooling out the famous words: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”
The president stands today bruised and battered, a laughing stock in the international community. And it seems that so many of those who have had the closest relations with him have fallen by the wayside or been condemned and verbally brutalized by presidential tweets. Just follow Attorney General Jeff Sessions braving his way through Trump’s onslaught against him. The closer you get to Trump, the more likely it is that you’ll suffer serious political excommunication, if not public disapproval.
How much longer will the American people tolerate this president? He has proven to be an individual who refuses to speak the truth, behave honestly or adhere to any religion’s concept of morality and ethics. And yet as I write, Florida just selected a Trump ally, Republican Ron DeSantis, as its gubernatorial candidate to compete with what was expected to be a shoo-in Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
So help me out. What do I do? As I see it, America is facing a constitutional crisis of the highest order, and the question is how much will the country suffer before America’s example of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is held hostage and crumbles in another brave attempt at democracy that failed.
Rabbi Chaim Landau is rabbi emeritus at Ner Tamid Congregation.