After the official end of President Donald Trump’s presidency on January 20, it is critical to take a moment to analyze the last four years of the Trump administration. Regardless of my personal feelings about the former president, it is undeniable that it has been an eventful term, especially for Jews. It can certainly be argued that Trump’s actions benefited Israel, and possibly American Jews as well. That said, do the positive decisions he has made outweigh the abhorrent ones?
Many Jews voted for Trump in the 2020 election with the following rationale in mind: He may be repulsive, and many of his actions are revolting, but Trump is good for Israel and good for Jews, so we are obligated to vote for him. I find this argument to be severely lacking in both complex logic, and simple morality. Before I go further it is important to mention my absolute horror at a Jewish newspaper’s near-glorification of the Capitol riots. Actions such as these shine a negative light on the entire Jewish community. While I did not support former-President Trump, choosing to vote for him was every person’s democratic right. Supporting the riots however, is equivalent to supporting an attack on democracy itself, and cannot be justified.
So, what are some positive decisions Trump has made for Jews and for Israel? President Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and consequently moved the US embassy to that location. He banned BDS head Omar Barghouti from the US, and called out his anti-Semitic remarks. Trump passed an executive order protecting Jewish students on college campuses from anti-Semitism. Trump has also overseen multiple treaties between Israel and surrounding Arab countries. In my criticism of Trump and his actions, I do not mean to minimize or diminish these achievements. They undoubtedly had a positive impact on Jews.
That’s not to say there was no negative impact on Jews with Trump in office. A small but mighty segment of Trump’s diehard supporters are white supremacists and anti-Semites. A large sampling of this crowd was present at the capital riots, where spectators could see people wearing shirts featuring slogans such as “Camp Auschwitz.” At a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, marchers chanted “the Jews will not replace us” and embraced neo-Nazi and other anti-Semitic beliefs . Trump’s response to the events at the rally was “There were good people on both sides.” When he condemned the anti-Semitic marchers, he also condemned the counteprotesters who stood up to them.
Further, I question how much Trump’s policies will really help Israel moving forward. Some Jews see his greatest accomplishments for Israel as being the peace treaties he has organized with neighboring Arab nations. However, these treaties may not be the gargantuan gain for Israel that they have been made out to be. Look at two of Israel’s most prized treaties, both with countries Israel has gone to war with: one with Jordan, and another with Egypt. These treaties stopped wars, and may have saved lives. The treaties Israel has entered with the UAE and Bahrain during the Trump administration are not peace deals, they are merely economic ones. That’s not to say these treaties, known as the Abraham Accords, are not a notable achievement. They might begin a geopolitical shift within the Middle East that is favorable to Israel. That said, they may not be quite as monumental as they are being made out to be.
Let’s assume for a moment that Trump’s action were good for Irsael and Jews. Are we really willing to sell out our moral compass, our entire value set, for one issue (Israel), however important it is? One who supports Trump based on the Israel issue alone is disregarding his blatant lack of ethics and decorum. We live in the United States. If one cares about the United States, how can he not condemn a president who incited a violent insurrection that made us the laughingstock of the world? How can one support a president who has 23 claims of sexual assault against him? How can one support a president who discourages citizens from wearing masks during a global pandemic?
A president is meant to be a person of strong moral character. Leaders are meant to conduct themselves with integrity and honesty. Leaders should hold themselves to a strict moral code, and uphold a high standard or ethics. In this sense, Trump has completely degraded the office he once held. In every way, Trump has failed to meet these criteria.
Thus, I cannot in good conscience say I believe the good Trump has done for Israel and Jews outweighs the revolting actions he has taken in all other areas of his presidency. I can only hope our new president, President Joe Biden, will raise the office from the deep pit it has fallen into, and a new light will shine on the country that was once the very pinnacle of democracy.