The Real Choice for Jews?  Faith or Politics – Not Both

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Last month, Donald Trump’s local campaign director of Jewish Outreach wrote an op-ed article in the Newton TAB titled “The Choice: Jewish Liberalism or the Jewish State.”  With Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah) coming up, I would like to respond by saying the real choice for Jews is not between the Jewish state or Jewish leftism, or between the GOP and the Democrats. The real choice is between Torah Judaism and political tribalism. For the first 36 years of my life, I made the mistake of prioritizing the latter instead of the former. At least for the last 14 months, I have had the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to prioritize the former.

Simchat Torah is a Jewish Holiday that commemorates the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and when we start reading the first Torah reading in the new annual Torah cycle.  Each Torah scroll is taken out of the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark) and all the men carry the scrolls around the sanctuary in a series of seven hakafot (circuits).  On a personal level, I gave four D’Var Torahs at my local synagogue during the last year while we were in the process of hiring our new permanent rabbi and wrote a column for New Boston Post discussing my views of kingship in Judaism and in contemporary American civics.  In addition, I will be finished reading the Hertz Chumash (Torah Commentaries of Rabbi Joseph Hertz) this week and from there I will start reading the Soncino Chumash (Torah Commentaries of the Soncino Press).

I agree with the author’s thesis that pro-Israel Jews should realize that the Democrat Party no longer shares their values.  The new anti-Israel leftist Pharaohs of the Democrat Party no longer know the pro-Israel Jewish Democrat Josephs of former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, former Newton Ward 1 Democrat Ward Committee Chairwoman Janet Sterman, and Americans for Peace and Tolerance founder Dr. Charles Jacobs.  The Democrat Party’s demographers believe that they can get more votes by appealing to the visceral Jew-hatred of America’s fast-growing Arab and Muslim populations, rather than the demographically stagnating Jewish population.

I do not know why there is so much hostility on the Left for the State of Israel even though Israel is a socialist, secular social democracy. Israel instituted strict gun laws, it promotes homosexuality and taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, and it gives lavish taxpayer-funded benefits to 1.7 million hostile and irredentist Arabs who hate Israel’s existence and who destroy it the first chance that they get. Israel has given the Left 99% of what they have demanded from the nations of the world when it comes to political policies of governance. One would think the Left would be rational enough to be satisfied with Israel’s acquiescence to their demands without demonizing Israel further. 

As a newly observant Jew and a longtime (secular) Zionist, I am a pragmatic supporter of the State of Israel. I would rather its religious worldview be closer to Modern Orthodox Judaism (which combines adherence to Jewish religious law with a forward-thinking approach to modernity) and its civic-political worldview be closer to constitutionalist republicanism as opposed to its current democratic-socialist status quo. Nevertheless, I support the right of the Jews to form their own state (even if its current worldview is not in line with mine) and control their own national, religious, and ethnic destiny rather than there be no Jewish State at all.

However, I cannot share the Trump campaign’s thesis that Donald Trump and his administration is any friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I came to this logical conclusion when I considered the following material, significant, and verifiable facts:

  • Donald Trump broke his campaign promise to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
  • Trump questioned Israel’s commitment to make peace with the Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists
  • Trump appointed anti-Israel, pro-Arab globalists to his administration such as H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser, Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and James Mattis as Defense Secretary
  • Trump told the United Nations Secretary General that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a bigger problem than the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas.

It is clear that Jews should not put their faith in Donald Trump any more than they should have put their faith in Barack Obama or Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Jews should be more concerned as to what policy comes out of the Trump administration (or any of Trump’s successors) regarding Israel rather than soothing campaign rhetoric.  Psalm 118:8-9 says it is better to trust in G-d than in man or (political) princes, as even the best of men sometimes fail, but G-d never fails.  Jews in particular should take heed of that.  When Jews do participate in the political arena, they should remember the four qualifications in Exodus 18:21 Jethro told Moshe to look for when appointing officers over the Children of Israel:

  • Fear of G-d
  • Men of ability
  • Honest men
  • Incorruptible Men of integrity

On Simchat Torah, Jews should choose Torah Judaism over political tribalism.  Jews should prioritize adhering to Torah instead of pledging their allegiance to political parties and personalities.  I made that choice 14 months ago and I am a better man for it.


Joshua Norman is an Auburndale resident who has walked an hour each way to every one of Newton’s 7 Orthodox synagogues in the last year to attend Shabbat services