Loyalty and Disloyalty

Many times over the past four years, I have expressed my thoughts on statements by then candidate, now President Trump. So many of these statements have left me greatly concerned as an American and as a Jew.

But, yesterday’s statement brought this entire discussion to a new place and it is a terrifying place.

Yesterday, the President said: “”I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” 

As I wrote on Facebook and as so many have expressed, the word “loyalty” carries with it tremendous implications and historical gravity for Jews. For centuries, Jews have been accused of a lack of loyalty to the nation in which we live, holding greater loyalty to our people and, since 1948, to the state of Israel. This claim of disloyalty or secondary loyalty has led to persecution against Jews for centuries.

So, when President Trump used these words yesterday, he was using language which resonates deeply within our hearts and minds as Jews.

It is not immediately clear what disloyalty the President was alluding to but I assume that he was saying that Jews who vote for Democratic candidates are being disloyal to the Jewish people and to Israel.

There is so much that needs to be said.

First, it goes without saying that President Trump has no right to lecture me or any Jew about how to express our Jewishness. This patronizing, demeaning attitude is shameful.

But, more importantly, from my perspective, his assumption about what makes a “loyal Jew” is simply wrong.

I do not deny that there are some within the Democratic party who have made anti-Semitic statements and this concerns me deeply. But, the assumption that the fact that more Republicans are vocal in their support for the current government of Israel translates into an administration that is “better for Jews” is misleading to say the least.

I care deeply about Israel but President Trump has repeatedly made support for Israel a “partisan issue”. This preceded his administration when republican leaders invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before Congress to argue against President Obama’s support of the Iran Nuclear deal. The scene of so many in Congress cheering Netanyahu so ecstatically while disrespecting the leader of our nation was unsettling to say the least. While I am glad to see Israel have the support in Congress, that scene set the tone for the relationship that has been built up between Trump and Netanyahu which culminated a week ago in the Prime Minister, apparently, agreeing to the President’s suggestion that two Democratic members of congress who have been blatantly critical of Israel not be permitted to enter the country.

This decision was soundly criticized by most American Jewish organizations and rightly so.

Mr. President, there are many people who care about Israel who do not agree with the positions of the Netanyahu government. We will not be swayed by your claim that loyalty to a state means agreement with current policy.

But, there is a more important point to be made.

I am a loyal American. I am deeply concerned about the direction this country is taking and I believe that the values that Judaism espouses are being trampled on by this administration.

As Jews, we are called on to be compassionate, to recognize the image of God in all people, to be concerned for the earth which we live on, to protect our children from violence, to welcome the stranger and care for those in need.

These are not uniquely Jewish values as they are shared by so many in our nation and these values guide my vote on election day.

I intend to vote for a Democrat in 2020 because this administration has stood against recognizing climate change, dismissed the value of science, refused to enact laws protecting our children from gun violence, sought to take away from women the right to make decisions about their own bodies, referred to those seeking asylum and a better life as “invaders” and bringing “infestation”, turned a blind eye to, if not actively encouraged, white supremacists and overlooked the actions of brutal dictators throughout the world. These are unacceptable to me as an American.

I intend to vote for a Democrat in 2020 because I could not vote for a man whose rhetoric and actions do not reflect what this nation should be about.

Mr. President, to support your administration would be to be disloyal, both to the country I love and to the faith I hold.

21 thoughts on “Loyalty and Disloyalty

  1. Fran

    You are still my spiritual leader, as you always give sage advise. Your words ring so true, and reflect my feelings. Thank you for offering a little light through all this darkness.

  2. Frank.

    “I am deeply concerned about the direction this country is taking and the values that I believe Judaism espouses are being trampled on by this administration.”

    What values do you believe Judaism espouses…are being trampled.

    Are they Torah values?

    1. Rob Dobrusin

      I believe they are Torah values. Among them: compassion to the stranger (found throughout the legal sections of the Torah), concern for the protection of the earth (from the story of creation in Genesis), recognizing the equality of every individual, each being created in the image of God (again from the book of Genesis)…
      I don’t deny that different people can select different values or interpret this administration’s actions differently. But, from my perspective these are just some of the values that I was referring to.

  3. Barbara Hofmann

    I have stated on facebook and openly that I am Jewish. I do not agree with “the squad” on many issues but I believe they have a right to speak their opinions and I pray they will not be harmed.
    The rabbi has stated my outlook on America and on the Netanyahu administration in Israel better than I can. Our POTUS seems to think that a son-in-law of Jewish descent, and a daughter who has converted to Judaism gives him the knowledge of the mind set of American Jews. (He never gave that kind of credit to Hillary Clinton who has a similar son-in-law/daughter situation) It is amazing and frightening that Trump is so narcissistic, and one of the reasons that I, too, will vote for whichever Democratic candidate runs against him in 2020.

  4. Stephen Job

    NO one should be supporting this individual. I cannot even express in words how wrong he is as a person, about so many things, then there’s the fact that he holds perhaps the most powerful position on the planet. He truly needs to be institutionalized, he really doesn’t speak any more, he rambles and fantasizes out loud. I commend your comments and insights. We’ll have to vote him out. I’m afraid a lot of GOP supporters as well, they used to have some moderates, but they seem to be afraid to speak up!

  5. Joe Zias

    In a way the situation may be worse here in Jerusalem, I converted at the Hillel House in AA, Rabbi H. White, drafted into the IDF, involved in all the wars from 1967 onwards, worked with the gov’t, kids born here and at a certain point the rabbinate here decided I wasn’t Jewish. Many rel. here esp the settlers love DT as that evangelical money keeps pouring in to the West Bank, much of it donated by a mega church preacher who once said, 6 million Jews died in WWII because they didn’t accept JC as their messiah. Settlers accepted million of dollars from him and his followers, have a sports center, named after him in the West Bank and Bibi and co. now are naming a small settlement in the Golan Hts after DT along with a town square somewhere in the country proper. American Jewry must stand up otherwise one is an enabler to the oppressor.

    1. Rob Dobrusin

      You bring up many issues of concern. The issue of “who is a Jew” (or really, “Who is a Rabbi? when it comes to conversion) continues to be such a detriment to the unity of the Jewish people. And your comment about the mega church preacher is also an area of great concern. We will continue to make our voices heard. I wish you well.

  6. Doris Peters-Rudnick

    Rabbi, I totally agree with you wholeheartedly! We must all vote blue and bring our country back to normalcy with love and kindness for ALL our citizens.

  7. Ruth Goldberg

    I have seen Prime minister Netanyahu use the same retoric as Trump just more cleverly. Although I do not agree with his policies I believe he is much more knowladgable and clever and I am quite sure that the annexing of the Golan heights came about with a promise for a town named Trump which was created immediately after the recognition.

    Israel is paying for the slow erroding of the democracy in the USA. USA is paying for the errosion of the democracy also in Israel. Each leader is using the other for their coming up elections and it is horrifying and dispicable. Being “Left” in Israel is labled as being not loyal to the state of Israel and it is used constantly by the media including hosts on TV. currently many vote for Netanyahu and are surprised why their standard of living is erroding while the economic statistics are booming, why reform and conservative Judeism is not only looked down at but also is not fully recognised and considered disloyal to our heritage.
    Be careful! Fight hard against this labeling of disloyalty.

  8. Reuben Weisberg

    I agree with most of your points but one comment bothers me; ” I intend to vote for a Democrat in 2020…”. We have a couple of dozen Democrats running for top office. Several of them are openly anti semitic and anti Israel. Would you vote for one of these candidates if they made it to the final election? I am a registered Democrat but I strongly believe in voting for the best candidate at each election and not just the Party line.

    1. Rob Dobrusin

      Thank you for writing. I have not heard Anti-Semitic statements from the Democratic candidates for President. I know that the democrats tend to be less supportive of some of the policies of the current government than President Trump is but I would not consider them anti-Israel and again, I haven’t heard anti-Semitic statements from the candidates.


    Well said, our values as an individual & a Jew are being threatened. Our present leader should amend his ways &
    realize, his time is over in the W.H.

Leave a Reply