Jews serving U.S. President Donald Trump are a disgrace. We should welcome them as members of our community, because that is the Jewish way, but condemn them for the role they play in this calamitous White House.
With Trump, it’s hard to know where to begin. Scandals slide off some politicians, but they stick to Trump. The next outrage simply comes so fast and furious that we forget yesterday’s and focus on today’s.
In that sense, Trump is not a Teflon president, he is a Jackson Pollock president – each splatter covers the previous one, and the splatters stain all those around him.
I need not inventory the moral sewage that Trump represents, nor do I have the space. You all know the drill. Trump obliterates civility and civics, but cheers sexism, racism and xenophobia.
And while he targets Jews infrequently, Trump still played footsie with white supremacist David Duke and refused to condemn anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish journalists. Most shockingly, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” after a Nazi sympathizer murdered an anti-racism activist in broad daylight in Charlottesville, Va.
After Charlottesville, Gary Cohn, then heading the White House’s National Economic Council, drafted a resignation letter, but couldn’t bring himself to submit it. But the man has his ethical breaking point: Cohn later resigned after Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs. His farewell statement noted, “It has been an honour to serve.… I am grateful to the president.” (Cohn was replaced by Larry Kudlow, who never faced criminal charges for his cocaine abuse.)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is another profile in courage. His scandals are many, including when his wife, who self-published a racist book, ridiculed those who didn’t fly on government jets or wear designer clothing. Mnuchin jumped to her defence, just as he did for the president after Charlottesville.
The list is wretchedly long. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law stand for nothing but nepotism and narcissism. His lawyer, Michael Cohen, funnelled hush money to silence a porn star with whom Trump apparently had sex. Trump’s top immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, curtailed the entire U.S. refugee program, even though his ancestors fled pogroms and found refuge in America. And Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, called liberal Jews “far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.”
These and other Trump acolytes are a collective shanda (shame) to the Jewish people. They serve a president with no comprehension of anything resembling public service or derekh eretz, and they serve at his pleasure. Every single day, they make the world worse.
You may counter that Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, or that he withdrew from the Iran deal, or did something else you support, and that this is what matters. But if a broken clock is right twice a day, it’s still fundamentally broken. Even a bad man can occasionally do a good thing.
Shocking numbers of Trump officials have been fired or quit. In one final abdication of public duty, many will try to cash in on the speaker circuit. On that circuit, some will no doubt rationalize that they were really in the White House to mitigate Trump’s damage, almost as if they were serving despite Trump, not because of him. Others will double down and defend Trump to the bitter end, unwilling to reckon with their ethical culpability. There will be no shortage of excuses.
Whatever they say, it should never be from the pulpits of our shuls or from the podiums of our charity events, since their role in our history has been shameful.
We should welcome Trump’s minions into our minyans, but bar them from headlining our communal events. We cannot play even a small supporting role in this epic tragedy, for it would stain our community forever.