An Open Letter to President Trump

Dear Mr. President:

         I write to respond to your recent comments to the Republican Jewish Coalition identifying Prime Minister Netanyahu as “your Prime Minister”. 

         These words might have been said purposefully or they might have been an unintended slip of the tongue. Whichever they were, they demand a response. 

         Let me tell you something about myself to provide context. 

         I am an observant Jew, a rabbi, who was born and raised in this country. I am a proud American and cherish the freedoms that this nation has offered me. While I am deeply concerned about the proliferation of anti-Semitic actions and rhetoric in the United States, I continue to feel safe here to express my Jewish identity through my actions and words.

         I love and support the State of Israel. I have visited Israel 13 times, the majority of those visits came while leading groups on trips. I have brought dozens of people to Israel to explore the land and develop a connection with its people. 

         While I identify myself firmly on the left side of the political spectrum regarding Israel and while I do express criticism concerning the actions and policies of the Israeli government, I love the State and believe it is essential to the future of our people and to the world. I am frustrated and angry at policies that I believe run counter to the values of Jewish ethics but I recognize that since I neither live in Israel nor vote in its elections, I must defer to those who do to make decisions for its future. 

         I tear up a bit when I hear Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem. I am filled with pride when I see the flag of the state and consider how far Israel has come in 70 years of existence. 

         But, let there be no mistake. My flag has stars and stripes and the Star Spangled Banner touches the deepest place in my heart.  

         The Prime Minister of the State of Israel, no matter who he or she may be, whether I agree or disagree with his or her policies, whether I respect him or her as an individual is NOT my Prime Minister. I owe that person no allegiance. 

         On the contrary, the President of the United States, whether I agree or disagree with his or her policies and whether I respect him or her as an individual is my President. It is to this nation that I owe my principal loyalty. I do care deeply about Israel but I am an American. 

         You have clearly been appealing to American Jews to recognize in your policies and actions relating to Israel, a reason to support your re-election in 2020. 

         While I can argue that your policies may not be in Israel’s best interest in the long run, that is not the issue I choose to address here. 

         Rather, here is the important point. 

         I will definitely consider a candidate’s position on Israel when I decide whom to support in 2020. 

         But, there are other issues that will affect my vote. 

         My vote will also be based on a candidate’s and party’s positions on health care, immigration policy, gun violence, tax policies, environmental concerns and civil rights for minorities of all types, to name a few. I will also consider whom I feel represents the United States best in the world community. These domestic issues are what motivate me as an American as I consider the future of my country. 

         Your statement about “your Prime Minister” angered me and I fear its ramifications. I am an American, a Jewish American whose loyalty to and status in this country should never be questioned or doubted.

5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to President Trump

  1. Eve Kaufman

    You have expressed your opinion beautifully and to the point. I agree with you 100%, as do many Jewish Americans. I am strongly against Trump’s comments in all areas that he spouts on about. He is a racist, inhumane, and has got to be removed from office. He is mentally unstable.

  2. Gladys Alicea

    Dear Rabbi:

    While I’m not a Jew, I am an American of Puerto Rican descent. I can relate to your feelings about the P.M. comment and would react the same way if Trump named the Governor of Puerto Rico as my Governor.

    At the same time, we must remember whom we’re dealing with, a mentally-unstable man who says “America is full,” as migrants fearing for their very existence knock on its door, begging for entry. The diaspora did the same for millions of Jews who fled to Europe and other countries begging for entry and were eventually thrown out to land on the shores of a virgin America. At first, they too were turned away when reaching Georgia, but the governor realized that among them were professionals such as doctors, which would benefit America. Even Trump’s own grandfather, supposedly from Scotland (it could be Germany, for all we know) came to America as an immigrant, or we’d have no Fred or Donald Trump (from my mouth to God’s ears). America’s a country of immigrants, which Israel’s also chosen to have forget. They’ve forgotten their history of diaspora, maltreatment, prejudice and persecution. Without God’s mercy, they wouldn’t be in America .

    I know I’ve sort of changed the topic, but isn’t it tied into calling another country’s leader America’s own? Isn’t it tied into the issue of telling thousands trying to escape from countries where America’s had a hand in their politics that, after a century, has become a domino affect, creating the reasons people of Central America run toward a better life? Theirs was a region full of rich countries with many resources was repeatedly robbed and controlled by the U.S. government, its corporations and other groups looking for easy wealth.

    I’m trying desperately to remain optimistic as the world burns; much of it isn’t Trump’s fault, but didn’t he light the match to ignite the far right populace to outlaw migrants, as in Hungary where Jews used to live? It’s discouraging and heartbreaking that even in Israel, we see videos of the once trampled upon trampling and killing the defenseless children of Palestine, who still fight and wait for their right of return. These war crimes must be stopped, yet Trump’s named Israel’s P.M. America’s prime minister and I, personally, don’t want to be associated with another tyrant who claims Israel’s a democratic state when it kill Palestinians on a daily basis, where settlers do the same and face no jury and radical group like the Hilltop Youth do as they please and face no recrimination.

    America and Israel have forgotten what it’s like to seek persecution and find freedom and, in turn, they find a violent place in their hearts void of compassion that says it’s fine to do to others what’s been done to us. Unlike in Israel, America has separation of church and state; few escape the law, and that’s the way it should be. The bottom line is that I can never understand the motivation that makes people so cruel, so forgetful of what they went through before arriving in America and, for the first time in their lives, taste the sweet nectar of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Thank you for reading this. May God bless you, your family and all of your flock.

    In sisterly love and respect,

    Gladys Alicea

  3. Alan

    Rabbi Rob,
    Great piece. Hope you are well and enjoying your minor league baseball hat collection. Chag Pesach Sameach.

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