Chaos continues

Trump’s inauguration rabbi: “We don’t need another King of Israel”

Jewish leaders stress bipartisanship amid Trump’s repeated attacks on Jewish Democrats

White House

Criticism over President Trump’s ‘disloyal’ comments continued for a second day as the president doubled down on his Oval Office statement on Twitter and later in a gaggle with reporters. “In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and you are being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump stated outside the White House on his way to Marine One. In a morning tweet, the president shared comments made by a conspiracy theorist who granted him the title ‘King of Israel.’

In an interview with Jewish Insider, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that he disagrees with Trump’s remarks because relying just on one party — whether it be Republican or Democrat — “spells a disaster for the Jewish people.” Hier, who gave the invocation at Trump’s inauguration in 2017, also laughed off the idea of applying ‘King of Israel’ title to the president. “No, there’s no King of Israel. We have had our kings. Now we have our democratically elected leaders, prime ministers and presidents,” he said. “We have had enough kings of Israel, we don’t need another King of Israel.” 

“We’ve learned over thousands of years that whenever government officials single us out, it’s usually not good for the Jews,” former NYC Councilman David Greenfield added.

Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban told JI that the “president is factually wrong with his statement and he should not have said it.”

Yossi Gestetner, a commentator and co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC), maintained that Trump is echoing the feedback he gets for his policies on Israel and “welcomes it.” But nonetheless, “people should not be lectured about their loyalty to countries or lack thereof.” 

Menashe Shapiro, a NYC-based consultant who has worked with both Democrats and Republicans, likened Trump’s comments to the ‘it’s all about the Benjamins” tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) earlier this year. Shapiro, who identifies as part of the Orthodox Jewish community, mocked the president for claiming the ‘King of Israel’ moniker. “Trump wouldn’t last one minute in the Jewish community, a community whose strongest traditions and teachings were cultivated in argument, difference of opinion, and disagreeing without being disagreeable,” he told JI. “He’d be laughed out of the ‘bais hamedrash’ (study hall) or worse, excommunicated for false prophecy or delusions of extreme grandeur and omnipotence.”

Israeli President Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin spoke on Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to stress the importance of keeping Israel a bipartisan matter in the wake of the president’s remarks. “The relationship between the State of Israel and the United States is a link between peoples, which relies on historical ties, deep and strong friendships and shared values that are not dependent on the relationship with one particular party,” Rivlin told Pelosi, according to a readout provided by the Israeli president’s office. 

Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator told JI that even the Israelis “who think Trump is the best thing that has ever happened to the Jewish state, feel that things have gotten a little bit out of control.

While Prime Minister Netnayahu has remained silent over the matter, and his cabinet ministers have refused to criticize Trump, Rivlin told Pelosi, “We must keep the State of Israel above political disputes and make every effort to ensure that support for Israel does not become a political issue.” 

But according to Meir, it’s “hard to blame” Netanyahu for not countering Trump “since it is likely that he will need Trump before the very tight Israeli elections, less than a month from now,” but nonetheless, “things have really gotten out of hand.” President Rivlin, she said, “is trying to act like the responsible adult here.”

Meir quipped that perhaps Rivlin and Netanyahu should coordinate their responsibilities in handling U.S.-Israel relations, in which the prime minister maintains his warm relationship with the Republican Party, while Rivlin can focus on strengthening support for Israel in the Democratic Party.

Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign’s COO, pushed back against criticism of the president in a statement: “Democrats continue to embrace and defend the most vitriolic antisemites in their midst, who sympathize and side with terrorist organizations who want to wipe Israel from the map. As a Jew myself, I strongly believe that President Trump is right to highlight that there is only one party — the Democrats — excusing and permitting such anti-Jewish venom to be spewed so freely. In stark contrast, there is no bigger ally to the Jewish community at home and around the world than President Trump. He withdrew from the disastrous Iran deal, which threatened Israel’s safety; he moved the U.S. embassy to its rightful place in Jerusalem; and he stands up for Israel at the United Nations. All of these are important pieces of information that all voters, Jewish or otherwise, should know.”

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