But He Is Good for Israel

Posted on January 13 2021
Howard Feldman

The happenings on Capitol Hill left most sane people winded. And whereas many were quick to blame 2021 for letting us down so spectacularly and so early into the year, it clearly had little to do with the calendar and everything to do with the former president of the United States Donald Trump.

Instead of accepting his loss with a hint dignity and with smattering of grace, Trump chose to cry “Foul!” and in doing so, set off a chain reaction that would not only result in the death of four people but in addition would give his detractors the perfect opportunity to say, “I told you so.” Which they wasted no time at all in doing. And who could blame them, given that had spent the last five years screaming that this was going to happen.

And happen it did.

Soon after the events I found myself in a public argument with journalist Richard Poplack who tweeted, “Yes but he’s good for Israel,” referring to Trump. I responded with “You have to be pretty obsessed to try and turn the focus towards Israel. Besides, I am pretty sure that those white males dressed as Vikings are not Zionists” and whereas I loved the smartness of my answer, the point that he was making was a valid one. He knew that too, which is why after a series of tweets he wrote, “My Tweet points out a prevailing moral failure of many in our community during the Trump era. If this is a time for reflection, no one is better poised to lead it than you.”

I am not certain that “no one is better poised to lead” than me, but I will nevertheless give it try. Because maybe some introspection is required. Although I was not a Trump supporter and publicly stated that I wanted both Bident and Trump to lose, I still hoped that Trump would lose less badly. I.e. to win. It might have been more to do with my thoughts on Biden, but it nevertheless be disingenuous to not own it. Whereas I have also mentioned numerous times that I abhor many aspects of Trump’s personality and a lot of what he stands for, indeed, he was good for Israel as well as the Middle East (in my view). I respected how he tried to engage with North Korea as well as his stand against Iran and although he might have not succeeded in terms of China, I do think that his effort was a decent one.

What I liked most about Trump was that I didn’t. Like him. To me he represented a rare opportunity for nuance and complexity something that is largely absent in the world of politics. Over the last while we have distilled our view of politicians. We either love them or we hate them. We either see no good or we see only bad. Trump awarded us the opportunity to see both in one politician. Through his behaviour however, he has robbed us of even that.

Whereas I don’t agree with some of Poplack’s view on Israel, he nevertheless raises a point that we should consider. Did Trump’s support for Israel indeed blind us to the reality of what he always was? And if this is the case, what does it say about us and how do we treat the next one that comes along? Whereas I have no clear answer, I know that it is worth thinking about.