Daily Kickoff: Abe Foxman, Leon Wieseltier, Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Gordis talk Trump to us | Biden: “Trump will continue strong support for Israel”
DRIVING THE DAY: “After campaign rancor, Obama and Trump to meet at White House” by Jeff Mason & Steve Holland: “President Barack Obama will host President-elect Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday in their first public step toward a transition of power after a bitterly fought election campaign that ended with the Republican businessman’s surprise victory. Obama campaigned vigorously… and called Trump both temperamentally unfit for the presidency and dangerously unprepared to have access to U.S. nuclear codes. They will seek to put that history behind them, at least for the cameras, during a meeting in the Oval Office at 11 a.m. First lady Michelle Obama will also meet privately with Trump’s wife, Melania, in the White House residence.” [Reuters; WSJ]
Question on some JI readers’ minds — When Obama and Trump discuss the transition period, will any talk of Obama’s plans for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process come up? When we asked Trump’s Israel advisor David Friedman this morning, he responded: “Sorry, can’t discuss details of their discussion.”
THE DAY AFTER — More Questions For Our Readers On Trump’s Win (1) Are you concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism? (2) How will Trump’s win affect the Jewish community in America? (3) What effect will Netanyahu’s cozying up to Trump today have on pro-Israel progressive outreach? We asked some prominent JI readers to respond to these questions. Here are their replies… includes comments from Alan Dershowitz, Abe Foxman, Daniel Gordis, Leon Wieseltier…
Q: Are you concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism?
“Alt-Right Internet Trolls Are Already Emboldened By Trump’s Victory” by Joseph Bernstein: “On the Twitter timeline of the mainstream liberal commentator Peter Beinart, hardly a Twitter warrior, where he has been retweeting responses to his anodyne observations about Trump’s low support among Jews. Among them: “Jews are always jews first, in whatever host Nation they are parasitising,” and “you don’t have a home nobody wants you. In the ovens u go.”” [BuzzFeed]
Former ADL Director Abe Foxman tells us: “Revolutions usually don’t have good consequences for the Jewish community. But I think in this revolution, the good news is it’s not about us. We were not an issue in the election, although some wanted to make Jews an issue. Israel was not an issue, The Iran deal was out there. But this revolution happened without us. We were not central. Not even Jewish money was a major thing. I think that’s a good thing.”
“The bad thing is that for this revolution to happen it had to break taboos. What worries me is Trumpism – the ugly element in out society. What Trump did was break taboos, all kind of taboos. And when you break that kind of taboos, you give a certain hechsher (license) to the bigots that are there. But now we are talking about Donald Trump the president, a leader, and not a candidate. I am optimistic. And I think what we heard in his victory speech, we will continue to hear because what motivates people like him is that they want to lead, and now he’s got to lead everybody.”
Leon Wieseltier: “The Trump campaign’s malign neglect of the anti-Semitic words and images in its midst was contemptible, and no amount of visits by Ivanka and Jared to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s grave will absolve it. But the chief threat from the Trump right is not to Jews. It is to Muslims and Mexicans, to immigrants, to African Americans, to all the ‘others’ in our society. We must have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, obviously; but we must not mistake every expression of it for a dire emergency. This ugliness is not primarily about us. At this moment we owe our solidarity to the main targets of the Trumpist bigots.”
Alan Dershowitz: “It may embolden anti-Semites of the alt-right.”
Daniel Gordis: “No one knows what this means for anything. Trump himself has no idea. America will lurch conservative, that much is clear. But what that will look like is anyone’s guess. That is also true of the anti-Semitism issue. There were undeniable anti-Semitic tropes in his campaign. The question isn’t whether Trump himself is anti-Semitic. It almost doesn’t matter. What matters is that his election legitimates a mode of discourse and a set of beliefs among others. There has never, in all of Jewish history, been a society that was mean and hateful that despised some minorities that didn’t eventually get to the Jews. Which is why the fact that Ivanka is Jewish could not possibly matter less.”
Q: How will life look like for the Jewish community with a President Trump?
Wieseltier: “Pretty much the way it looks now. This is — still! — America: we pursue our religious and communal lives regardless of who the president is. Trump’s presidency will polarize our community, which is as it should be. The Jewish right will follow the Israeli right into the dangerous illusion that the two-state solution is now a thing of the past. The Pesach seder in the White House will include shemurah matzah.”
Dershowitz: “Life will probably not change for most Jews.”
Gordis: “As divided and mean spirited as we all knew America is, it’s much worse than we allowed ourselves to think. Such societies have never been good to or for the Jews. The openness, tolerance and gentility which made Jewish flourishing in America possible has now ended, at least for a while. Jewish accomplishment, success and access will not end overnight, but if this persists for the long haul, it is not at all unlikely that the golden era of American Jewish life has begun to wane.”
Diane von Furstenberg emails: “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. We must believe that our future is in our hands. More than ever we must believe in good and the good of people. More than ever we must study, learn, be open minded, be generous and have compassion. More than ever we must be an example of good and influence the good. Whatever voice we have, we must use it to influence others so that our country celebrates what we cherish about it…its openness and inclusiveness.”
–Related: From October 2015, “Barry Diller Says He’ll Leave the Country If Donald Trump Wins the White House” [Bloomberg]
Q: What effect will Netanyahu’s cozying up to Trump today have on pro-Israel progressive outreach?
Dershowitz: “Every leader of every country will try to establish good relations with Trump. To single out Netanyahu for criticism is to apply a double standard.”
Wieseltier: “Of course it’s bad. Everything Netanyahu does is bad for gaining progressive support for Israel. Alienating vast precincts of American Jewry is one of his greatest skills. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian problem will only get worse.”
Gordis: “American progressives have the luxury of preaching at Israel from the safety of their American perches. Israelis – and Bibi – have the responsibility to stay alive. Bibi clearly would have preferred Hillary – “the devil you know.” Having gotten Trump, though, Netanyahu has to worry about Israel’s security, with the US now in the hands of an inexperienced, not terribly smart, easily offended leader with no policies in mind. Even the Palestinians are cozying up to Trump; it would be suicidal for Netanyahu to be doing anything else.”
RJC’s Matt Brooks explained in a conference call why the organization was silent on Trump during the election: “When this was a race about Donald Trump, Donald Trump was losing, when this was a race about Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton was losing. And so every we did, all of our messaging was designed to get a message out about Hillary Clinton. The favorability numbers for Donald Trump were pretty bad in the Jewish community, and of those people who had a favorable impression of Trump, a lot of them were already voting for him. So to be waving a banner which by definition was going to repel a lot of the persuadable voters that we were trying to reach, we felt that was strategically and tactically counterproductive.”
JI INTERVIEW with RJC Board Member Michael Epstein: “This is our opportunity to demonstrate some deliverables. We Republicans have no excuses. Either we demonstrate that our way of government works. And we show it to the millennials in the country who have no idea that capitalism works and socialism doesn’t work.”
“Trump deserves credit with the victory but he was fortunate to be running against a candidate any of our guys could have beaten… The divisiveness in our country was about to destroy the republic… This is the social media election. But I don’t think Trump we’ll be tweeting in the White House.”
On anti-Semitic trolls empowered by Trump: “The Republicans have to continue to disempower them. The far left has these issues too, especially on some college campuses. The Democrats have not disempowered them the way they should… I didn’t think Trump’s closing ad was anti-Semitic. We Jews are small in number but great in influence, we work hard and have great intellect. Are we supposed to shy away from that? Jews can be oversensitive to those things but the ad wasn’t anti-Semitic.”
On whether some Republicans will continue to critique Trump: “We’re all free thinkers. We just need to be at the table.”
On whether Trump has learned from his mistakes at RJC’s forum last December? “The candidate that spoke to us last December is a different man than the one who is now President-elect. He’s been awaken to a number of issues and understands nuance… The RJC will now be united in support of him.”
Q: Who could Trump appoint to make you feel more comfortable about his foreign policy decisions?
Epstein: “John Bolton and Mike Doran.”
Q: Would he listen to them?
Epstein: “I don’t know.”
Q: Does that concern you?
Epstein: “I think that people, I’m assuming that people rise to the job.”
HEARD LAST NIGHT: “Biden: Strong Support for Israel Will Continue Under Trump ” by Jacob Kornbluh: “A number of our friends in the community are anxious about what it will mean for America’s commitment to Israel,” Biden said about the election of Donald Trump as the next president during a speech at the World Jewish Congress’ annual Theodor Herzl Award in Manhattan. “I stand here to tell you that I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that in the Trump administration, there will be no diminution of support as a consequence of this transition.” Biden added that even if the new administration would be inclined to reduce military aid to Israel, “which it is not,” Congress “would never let it happen. The American would never let it happen.” [JewishInsider; Politico]
“Trump invites Netanyahu to meeting ‘at the first opportunity’: Israel” by Ori Lewis:“Netanyahu spoke to newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump by phone on Wednesday and Trump invited him to a meeting “at the first opportunity”, Netanyahu’s office said. The conversation was “hearty and warm” and regional issues were discussed, the office said.” [Reuters; Haaretz] • Gil Hoffman:The lesson of Trump and Netanyahu – Fighting against the media works [JPost] • Republican Leader in Israel: Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Is Trump’s Litmus Test’ [Haaretz]
Netanyahu also spoke by telephone with Hillary Clinton and thanked her for supporting Israel, according to the PMO. He told her that she has an open invitation to visit Israel.
“World Is About to Find Out What Donald Trump Really Believes” by David Sanger, Maggie Haberman and Binyamin Appelbaum: “It is a view of American power that spills over into his approach to national security. He sees little long-term benefit from funding efforts to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. His mind goes to military solutions first. Few statements were more often repeated, or more heartfelt, than his vow to bomb the Islamic State, and “take the oil.” “ [NYTimes] • Eli Lake: Will Donald Trump Go Rogue in the War on Terror? [BloombergView]
“Iran-Deal Sanctions Relief Could Be Overturned With ‘Stroke of a Pen’” by Samuel Rubenfeld: “The next president could easily make a determination to withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA. Similarly, the sanctions relief that was enacted on Jan. 16 was done through executive orders and administrative rulemaking, all of which could be overturned with the stroke of a pen,” said Douglas Jacobson, a partner at the international-trade focused law firm Jacobson Burton Kelley PLLC.” [WSJ]
“ADL Congratulates Trump: ‘American Democracy at Work’” by Jacob Kornbluh: “We congratulate President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on last night’s election victory,” ADL National Chair Marvin Nathan and ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a joint statement. “This is American democracy at work. The voters have spoken, Secretary Clinton has conceded, and the civil transition of power is underway.” [JewishInsider]
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt responds to David Friedman’s criticism of group’s statements during the election: “The Anti-Defamation League has never taken sides in elections. For the more than 100 years, we have called out anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry whenever we see it and wherever its source. This is not a matter of politics, but of principles. As President-elect Trump said last night, ‘it is time for us to come together as one united people,’ and we look forward to working with the new Administration — and all Americans –toward that goal.”
“Can a Divided America Heal?” by Erica Brown: “I think about Donald Trump’s first days of leadership. I wonder, President-elect, who will your advisers be? Only you can decide if you will continue the bold swagger of power or opt for the civilizing influence of persuasion. This country’s deep political divide requires more than reaching across the aisle. It’s almost like reaching across the universe.”[Tablet]
The Jewish Federations of North America sends letter to Trump, offering assistance in the transition period and beyond [Scribd] AIPAC: “This election once again demonstrates that support for Israel transcends partisan differences.” [PressRelease]
“Clinton Won Overwhelming Majority of Jewish-American Vote, Polls Say” by Judy Maltz:“Non-Orthodox Jews supported Clinton at higher rates than Orthodox Jews, but the Democratic candidate came out ahead even in this sub-group. According to the poll, 76 percent of Reform Jews voted for Clinton, as opposed to 21 percent for Trump; 71 percent of Conservative Jews voted for Clinton, as opposed to 25 percent for Trump; and 56 percent of Orthodox Jews voted for Clinton, as opposed to 39 percent for Trump.” [Haaretz; JewishInsider]
Nathan Diament: “What Does Trump Victory Mean For The Jewish Agenda? “Mr. Trump making good on his firm commitment to finally relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem may send the most useful message to Israel’s enemies in decades… The president-elect must immediately charge his transition team with planning specific steps they will aggressively undertake in the first days of his administration to rein in Iran on the nuclear front and also confront Iran on its expansive sponsorship of terrorism.” [NYJewishWeek]
TOP TALKER: “Icahn Left Trump Victory Party to Bet $1 Billion on Stocks” by Beth Jinks and Erik Schatzker: “Speaking earlier in a phone interview on CNBC, Icahn reiterated that he has no interest in taking on the role of Treasury secretary in Trump’s administration. “I don’t think I’d be the right guy to fit into Washington, you know, I’m not an establishment guy,” Icahn said. “I never worked for anybody in my life.”” [Bloomberg]
“Republican foreign policy veterans in quandary over Trump” by Matt Spetalnick and Arshad Mohammed: “I don’t expect to be asked. I wouldn’t serve. But there are others who will. It will be a matter of individual conscience,” said Eliot Cohen, who served as counselor to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and helped spearhead the March letter… Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon undersecretary who signed one of the dissent letters, said Trump would have to reach out beyond his circle of supporters to find enough qualified people to fill many important jobs. “He will want to show that he is not dividing the Republican party, so he will extend an olive branch to those in the party who opposed him,” Zakheim said. Asked whether he expected to be offered a post, he said: “I have no idea, as it’s not up to me.”” [Reuters; DailyBeast]
“Trump maps out a new administration to bring a seismic shift to Washington” by Philip Rucker:“Who would be the face of the White House in the press secretary role? Boris Epshteyn, a Trump surrogate who appeared frequently on cable television and anchored the campaign’s Facebook Live broadcasts? Jason Miller, the campaign’s senior communications adviser? Or [Sean Spicer, a more familiar face for the Washington press corps?” [WashPost]
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