A reflection on today's news

The philosopher Kirkegaard wrote of those “whose misfortune is that they know too much”. As we watched the dramatic night’s events and listened to the newly conciliatory speech of the new 45th President-elect this morning, it was hard to ‘un-know’ all that we’ve witnessed during this extraordinary campaign.

Something interesting happened with the Jewish vote. The exit poll found that 24% of American Jews voted for Trump. They voted for Trump the friend of Israel. Trump, who would stand up against terrorists. Trump, who would keep America safe.

71% of American Jews voted against Trump. They voted against Trump, the first presidential candidate in living memory to be endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. They voted against Trump, who used posters depicting Jewish businessmen and their sinister “global power structure”.  Trump, who tweeted to liken himself to Mussolini.

American Jewry will no doubt be flummoxed by the duality of their new President. It is quite proper for us to value support for the State of Israel. And equally, we are all acutely alive to the dangers of anti-Semitism. We don’t want to give up the former, but nor do we want to close our eyes to the dangers of the latter.

Whether jubilant or heartbroken at the result of the election, this is no time for us to let our attention wander. We must remain engaged and keep our eyes open.

The United States of America is facing a new era, a new dawn of profoundly uncertain times. Civic society is now needed more than ever, to be strong, cohesive and just. We will continue to support those values upheld by our American friends.

This week’s parasha, Lech Lecha, tells of Abram being called to a new life, a new beginning, which was certainly plagued with uncertainties.

Lech lecha m’artzecha m’noladecha u’mibeit avicha… v’eesecha l’goy gadol…

And the Eternal said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation…”

And Abram went forth, no doubt watchful and alert for dangers and setbacks, but above all, aspiring to a better future.

We know that greatness comes from tolerance, decency and truth and we will never stop hoping and working for it.

 

Rebecca Birk

Rabbi

Gabriel Webber

Community development manager

 

An earlier version of this statement relied on a different set of polling figures, suggesting that American Jewry split 44-41 in favour of Trump. These were based on a poll of early absentee voters reported in The Jerusalem Post.