Written by Michoel Leib Dobry
THIS TIME, A STUNNING SURPRISE
What a difference an election makes. Four years ago, I chose to take the opportunity to give my perspective on American democracy and the political system at work in a somewhat somber tone. This time, however, it will be a bit more enjoyable.
The most tumultuous presidential campaign in American history is finally over. The results have created a virtual earthquake across the political spectrum. The aftereffects are only now being digested, as the stunning election of Mr. Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States has shocked the political establishment and the elitist media right down to their toes.
Since many people are familiar with my “civic activism” in encouraging American citizens living in Eretz Yisroel to register to vote in U.S. elections, I was immediately asked on the day after the election for my reaction. My first reaction was one of stunned disbelief, and there aren’t many things that elicit such a reaction nowadays. “The terrorist attacks on September 11th regrettably did not surprise me as I had always been worried that such a thing could happen in America,” I said. “This definitely does.” Granted, I voted for Trump – he was by far the better candidate on matters pertaining to the People and the Land of Israel (and most American expatriates in Israel echoed those sentiments) – and he definitely had a chance to win. However, all the polls on the eve of the election left me feeling that it would take nothing short of a political miracle for him to defeat Hillary Clinton and her uber-left Democratic Party machine.
As I woke up at half past three to check the returns, I was amazed to see how the vast majority of the so-called “battleground” states were “too close to call” and then eventually started falling into Donald Trump’s column, virtually one by one. Four years ago, President Barack Obama won re-election by taking all but one of the battleground states against Mitt Romney, and I was worried that the same scenario would materialize this time. Incredibly, just the opposite occurred. The crestfallen expressions at the Clinton “victory celebration” and on establishment media sites said it all. My friends and neighbors in Eretz Yisroel found it difficult to believe that the commercial media in the United States could be as bad as the Israeli state-run media. This campaign proved to be a real eye-opener for them.
A POWERFUL MESSAGE
There is no question that the anger among the American voters spoke loud and clear on Election Day, something that most people should have expected after eight years of the Obama Presidency. However, the new political opposition has not responded kindly to the will of the electorate. Leftist agitators have been having a field day as they curse the President-elect and rage against the horrific mistake they believe the people made through the democratic and peaceful expression of the ballot box. Once again, the left-wing has demonstrated that it firmly believes in the tenets of democracy, as long as their candidate wins. If not, anarchy is the watchword. Can you imagine what the media would be saying if the situation was reversed and right-wing conservatives came out in mass, sometimes violent, protest against the election of Hillary Clinton? They would be calling for martial law in major cities, FBI and CIA surveillance of political opponents, mass arrests, etc. This sounds hauntingly similar to tactics straight out of the playbook of Israel’s General Security Services (GSS).
How do we interpret the message conveyed by this election? It may be true that there are many Americans on the conservative side of social issues such as the right to life and the sanctity to marriage who are breathing a sigh of relief that the United States Supreme Court will probably be in more secure hands for the next four years. However, there can be little doubt that Americans throughout the globe were saying something even more resounding.
While many people associated Mr. Donald Trump’s successful campaign for the Presidency of the United States with the slogan “Make America Great Again”, there was a far better catchphrase to explain his dominant appeal with millions of voters: “Either we have a country or we don’t.” Even certain ultra-liberals in the establishment media, such as Chris Matthews, realized that this was a powerful line to most people. It’s also a message that the leaders in Eretz Yisroel would be well advised to convey to the People of Israel and the world at-large.
It may be true that the warm personal relationship between the next American president and the veteran Israeli prime minister, the kind that hasn’t existed for decades, has certain potential benefits. However, those dedicated to the cause of “the Land of Israel for the People of Israel according to the Torah of Israel” should not get complacent. While Mr. Trump has indicated his belief that the two sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict must work things out without American intervention, the fact remains that the president-elect is still a political novice with virtually no foreign policy experience. As for his Israeli counterpart, Mr. Netanyahu, despite his eloquent oratory, is known for his weakness and undependability when subjected to U.S. or international pressure. Thus, we cannot take anything for granted. We must remain vigilant and carefully monitor the policies originating from both Washington, D.C. and Yerushalayim.
Admittedly, the future for Eretz Yisroel does seem a little bit brighter than it did a week ago. More than sixty million Americans gave Mr. Trump a mandate to govern with the support of a Congress in the hands of those far less likely to embrace the concept of further territorial concessions as repeatedly endorsed by U.S. policymakers over the past thirty years. Furthermore, it will definitely be a pleasure to hear the president of the United States, his secretary of state, and other leading foreign policy advisors in the new administration using terms such as “the war on terror” and “radical Islam”, and calling for the utter destruction of global terrorist groups, e.g., ISIS. However, that alone will not do the trick. The time has come, at long last, for the government of Israel, regardless of who heads it, to speak clearly and forthrightly as it places the choice before the people of Israel that the newly elected president of the United States raised throughout his campaign: “Either we have a country or we don’t.” Mr. Trump’s election presents a golden opportunity for Israeli leaders and policymakers to adopt a similar approach that they should have initiated long ago. The Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the People of Israel, and if we don’t want it to slip between our fingers, we must make the case clearly and unequivocally as we move forward in our activities on behalf of Shleimus Ha’Am, Shleimus HaTorah, and Shleimus Ha’Aretz.
Good luck, Mr. President-elect.