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Canadians often express their views about American politics as if they actually have a vote, rather than looking at politics in the US as if it is an influence on Canadian life. The first view is really not okay or helpful. The second view is essential.
As a dual citizen (yes, I am ... sigh), I am one of those who can actually talk out of both sides of my mouth on this issue.
And because of my support for Donald Trump and his presidency, it has become increasingly important for me in advance of the November US election and in the midst of COVID-19.
I almost always view the world through the lens of the best interests of the Jews. Looking at the Democrats and Republicans, who would be better for Canada’s Jews and why?
I was a registered Democrat my entire life, from age 18 until 2012, when Obama (Biden was his Vice President) and his anti-Israel, anti-resource agenda drove me out of the party. Don’t bother to argue with me that he wasn’t anti-Israel. Ask any Israeli who isn’t a politician and you will learn that that’s how he was viewed. He saw the territories as "occupied," saw Israel as an illegitimate entity, and, of course, pushed the infamous resolution demanding that Israel relinquish all settlements, although they cleverly abstained after pushing its passage.
Have things improved since Obama’s exit among Democrats? I think not. Let’s look at the facts. The anti-Semitism of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib is clear and ever-present. The Democrats' connection to J Street and its anti-Israel, anti-annexation rhetoric is more than concerning. Support for BDS is common in the Democratic party by such rising stars as Julian Castro, AOC and others. And don't get me started on Bernie Sanders.
Where has Donald Trump and the Republican Party been on the issue of Israel?
He moved the embassy to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He supported the Golan Heights remaining a part of Israel. He supports, unstintingly and without equivocation, Israel’s right to defend itself. Trump also withdrew from the horrendous Iran deal.
As a former Democrat who #walkedaway from the party in 2012, after I finally gave up all hope that the daylight which had never existed between the two major American parties had become a blinding solar flare with Democrats taking positions which were clearly anti-Israel and supporting candidates such as Rep Omar who were blatantly anti-Semitic, I began to listen carefully to the candidates running for the Republican nomination. Several were strong supporters of the Jewish community and Israel, such as Marco Rubio (my first choice in 2016), Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie, as well as Lindsay Graham.
Donald Trump was well known in the Jewish community in New York and Israel, as was his daughter Ivanka who converted to Judaism and lived a modern Orthodox life with her husband Jared Kushner and their three children. I felt comfortable that to vote Republican (and specifically for Trump) was to support a party and candidate that respected my religion and would be supportive of Israel. I changed my registration that year to Republican to enable me to vote in primaries in my US residential state of Florida.
I am mystified how Canadian Jews can hate Trump so much when he has clearly been so supportive of our community and Israel. I understand that there are people who dislike his unpolished communication style. I get that he is very different from what Canadians expect of their politicians. But my answer to that is "Justin Trudeau." I will take a straight-talking Donald Trump any day over a smarmy Justin Trudeau. I know what Trump thinks, for better or worse.
But more importantly, I have learned to look at the actions taken outside of the words and promises. Trump has done what he said he would do. Until COVID-19, the US economy was on fire: almost no unemployment, rising wages for the lowest income people, business reinvesting in the US, bring their money back home, a strong foreign policy including holding our allies responsible for meeting their fair share of keeping the world safe.
Canadian Jews should look at Donald Trump as a friend and ally of their interests as Jews. As a Canadian, I wish I could feel as certain that our current government supported us in that way. With the departure of Stephen Harper from the Canadian political scene, while the Conservative Party is very supportive of Israel and our community, there is now a leadership gap that has not been filled.
I worry as I watch protests devolve into anti-Semitic acts including defacing Jewish institutions, and such outrageous memes as this one:
I am concerned when I see our politicians side with organizations like Black Lives Matter which has pushed anti-Israel, anti-Semitic ideologies, with no concern for the anxiety and fear this kind of rhetoric brings to our community.
I am concerned when I see Justin Trudeau consort with the worst haters in the world in his quest for UN leadership.
I am concerned when I see Justin Trudeau kowtow to the career diplomats who have NEVER supported Israel, including his oddly random attack on Israel in his Covid-19 update on June 2, 2020.
Canadian Jews need to examine the ACTIONS of political leaders around the world, and look past the style of those leaders to find our real friends.