A Palestinian state would be bad for Israel, U.S. too
We all know why the creation of a Palestinian state now would be dangerous for Israel — the indefensible borders, the vulnerable airports, the lack of water sources (“The one state solution: The prescription that kills the patient,” March 3). But let’s consider why a Palestinian state would be dangerous for America.
• Turmoil and instability: The Palestinians have a long record of fomenting regional instability. In 1970, they provoked an armed conflict with King Hussein of Jordan that resulted in the deaths of thousands. They instigated a civil war in Lebanon that resulted in the deaths of thousands. It’s only a matter of time before a Palestinian state would stir up turmoil and mayhem throughout the region. That kind of chaos, in such a sensitive region of the world, is the last thing the U.S. needs.
• Proxy for rogues: The Palestinians always have allied themselves with the most extreme and aggressive regimes in the world: in the old days, it was the Soviet Union; today, it’s North Korea and Iran. “Palestine” would quickly invite Iranian “volunteers” and North Korean missiles. It would become a proxy-state for the world’s worst rogue regimes. How would an Iranian port in Gaza be good for America?
• Against American values: We can already see from the Palestinian Authority’s practices over the past 23 years what kind of state it would have. Islam will be the state religion. Elections will be held rarely, if ever. (Mahmoud Abbas is in the 12th year of his four-year term of office.) Critics of the regime will be suppressed. Labor unions will be harassed. Prisoners will be tortured. Christians will be intimidated. Women will be second-class citizens. The Islamist and authoritarian values embodied by the Palestinian state will be the exact opposite of the democratic and pluralistic values that we Americans cherish.
• Enemy of America: A Palestinian state would be an actively anti-American state in word and deed. How do we know? Just look at what the Palestinian Authority has been teaching its people, and especially its children, for the past two decades. The PA’s media and schools portray the United States as racist, colonial, and war-mongering. They accuse the U.S. of carrying out the 9/11 attacks, spreading disease and immorality, and conspiring against Islam.
A Palestinian state will promote hatred of America, vote against the U.S. in international forums, and align itself with radical Third World regimes. The world already has plenty of America-hating countries. Why do we need yet another?
One of the more remarkable things about the PA’s behavior has been its habit of taking $500-million from the U.S. every year and then turning around and naming streets, parks, schools, and sports competitions after terrorists who have murdered Americans. If this is how the PA acts now, when it desperately needs U.S. support for its statehood campaign, just imagine how it will act when it has a sovereign state and no longer needs American assistance.
• Undermining America’s ally: Israel has always been America’s closest friend and most reliable ally. As a matter of principle, and as a matter of strategic wisdom, the United States should always stand by its friends. To set up a Palestinian state along Israel’s borders would pose a grave danger to our ally. It would also undermine the confidence of all of America’s allies, and call into doubt the value of America’s promises.
• Dragging the U.S. into overseas conflicts: Israel has never asked the United States to defend it militarily. The Israelis fight their own battles. But if a weakened, shrunken Israel is in danger of being overrun by a Palestinian-Iranian-North Korean onslaught, there will be tremendous pressure on the United States to take military action rather than see its closest ally destroyed. Thus the U.S. could find itself dragged into an overseas conflict that was entirely preventable.
In every conceivable respect, a Palestinian state would be bad for America — bad for American values, bad for American interests, and bad for America’s allies.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen Flatow is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America.
Disagreeing with Rabbi Boteach
Early and late Hitler
I share Rabbi Boteach’s outrage over dragging the unspeakable Hitler into polemics with American politicians one does not like (“Comparing Trump to Hitler trivializes the Holocaust,” March 3). There is, however, a nuance that the rabbi ignores.
There is the early Hitler and the late Hitler. The latter was the chronic initiator of wars and the mad exterminator of vast groups of people, a man who can be compared only with Stalin and Mao. But the early Hitler, as the leader of a political party, reached for power by practicing the “big lie” technique — use many lies, exaggerate them, repeat them.
That procedure is not so different from that of the man who began his political career with a six year crusade to delegitimize an American president by means of multiple lies about Obama’s birth certificate and continued by setting an all time record in American politics for brazen lying about almost everything, as established by various fact-checking organizations. In that regard, Trump is indeed comparable to Hitler, the early Hitler. All of which is not to say that he will turn into the later Hitler, a suggestion that is indeed beyond the pale.
Making Germany great again
In response to Rabbi Boteach’s March 3 column (“Comparing Trump to Hitler trivializes the Holocaust”). I could not disagree with it more. Rabbi Boteach criticizes Phil Murphy for his November 20 remarks, when, according to Boteach, Mr. Murphy “compared Donald Trump’s rise to power to the ascension of Adolf Hitler in Germany.”
Nowhere in the rabbi’s column does he suggest that Mr. Murphy indicated that the comparison between Trump and Hitler has anything to do with anti-Semitism.
Any understanding of the rise of Hitler in 1930s Germany shows that it was much more insidious than the horror of anti-Semitism. Hitler’s ability to convince an entire nation of “civilized” people to follow him in his madness was due to very careful manipulation of the German people. We must remember that Hitler had to gain total power before he could unleash his horror upon the world. The Holocaust was the result of Hitler’s total control of the German people. His methodology to gain that power is what Trump has followed.
Trump tries to delegitimize anyone who disagrees with him. He tweets his vitriol and has no filter on his language or the scope of his charges. The more outrageous the tweets, the more obscene the charges and allegations, the more Trump emulates Hitler’s modus operandi. The comparison between Hitler and Trump (and many other totalitarian dictators) is easy to see.
At the time of Hitler’s rise to power, Germany was suffering from horrific economic conditions. Hitler came along and told them that their country was great and that with his leadership he would make Germany great again — ”Deutschland Uber Alles”— Germany above all others. He then laid Germany’s problems at the feet of the scapegoat, the Jews.
Trump has laid all the problems of the United States at the feet of his scapegoats, Mexicans, Muslims, and anyone else who has the temerity to disagree with him. His language, his disgusting behavior, and his outrageous lies, day in and day out, are directly out of Hitler’s playbook. Trump follows Joseph Goebbels’ rule — tell a lie big enough and loud enough and often enough and people will believe you.
Hitler succeeded by whipping up the bigotry and anti-Semitism of that portion of the German population for whom these views were red meat. Trump started by giving the “deplorables” permission to come out from under their rocks and begin to spew their filth and hate publicly against whichever group the particular deplorable wished to target.
Every speech and rally at which Trump spoke increased the deplorables’ fervor. Then, as in Germany, people who were being disadvantaged by economic or social dislocation bought into the Trump “philosophy.” Trump built his majority in exactly the same way that Hitler built his.
It is interesting to note that Hitler never broke the laws of Germany. However, he did engineer to have a legislature and a judiciary that would never disagree with him. If they did, they were removed quickly.
I am a first generation American. My mother came here from Russia as a small child in 1906 and my father from Austria-Hungry in 1920. Much of my father’s family perished in the Holocaust. I do not trivialize the Holocaust. Neither do I believe that Trump is an anti-Semite. The fact that his targets are not Jews does not mean that his rise to power cannot be compared with Hitler’s rise to power. Sadly, there are many more similarities between these two demagogues than there are differences.
I believe firmly that our government is much stronger than the government that existed in Germany in the 1930s. I believe that even with its dysfunctionality, our Congress and our judiciary will prevent our beloved country from the horror that Hitler brought down on Germany and the entire world.
It would behoove Rabbi Boteach to apologize to Phil Murphy and to all Americans who have no trouble seeing that which is so obvious. We have elected a despicable excuse for a human being to be our president. We must continue to speak out each and every day that he continues to try to destroy the soul of America.
Upper Saddle River
Rabbi Boteach misses the point
I read with great interest Rabbi Boteach’s editorial (“Comparing Trump to Hitler trivializes the Holocaust,” March 3) about Phil Murphy’s comparison of Trump’s rise to Adolph Hitler’s rise in Germany. Rabbi Boteach takes great umbrage with Murphy’s words but I feel he completely misses the point.
During the campaign, our president made many statements that I would compare to statements of any dictator, especially Hitler. Why isn’t Rabbi Boteach upset by statements by Trump that incites to violence (“Carry him out on a stretcher”)? Why isn’t he upset by statements that demean the press and journalists? Why isn’t he upset when Trump makes statements with lies, false numbers, and screeds against immigrants? ( I venture to guess that Rabbi Boteach’s ancestors were immigrants).
Journalists unveil the truth whether we like it or not. Trump, like the bully he likes to play, doesn’t like the truth. But instead of disagreeing, as a president should, he descends into invective and often inciteful language. Is that a problem for Rabbi Boteach? Apparently not. What bothers him are the comparisons with Hitler.
My parents made it through the Holocaust and Auschwitz, and they told me plenty of stories of Nazis. Trump and his words to me are more menacing and frightful than Murphy’s comparison of him to Hitler. Jews should not be spooked with any mention of Hitler. The comparisons are there. Rabbi Boteach may be too naïve to see them. Just remember, Hitler was elected in a democracy, and we see where that led.
Serious about ‘never again’
I was very disappointed to read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s March 3 op ed, “Comparing Trump to Hitler trivializes the Holocaust.” As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, the last thing in the world I’d want to do is to trivialize the Holocaust, but I take the words “never again” seriously, as should every Jewish person.
It is quite easy to see the parallels between what is going on in our country today and Nazi Germany. For starters, one has to look no further than our president’s demonizing of the press, yelling “fake news” every time information that he prefers to suppress comes out. How different is that from Hitler and his cohorts labeling reporters, “lügenpresse” or “lying press,” as they were called in Nazi Germany?
Was Rabbi Boteach not paying attention when Trump asked his followers at a rally to pledge their loyalty to him personally and not to the country? They were practically, as a group, and sometimes, literally, as individuals, offering the Seig Heil on his command.
One literally would have to have blinders on not to see the parallels between how Hitler came to power by scapegoating immigrants and religious minorities and how Trump came to power doing the same. The difference is that Hitler’s targets were Jewish, and in Trump’s case they are a mixture of Muslims and Mexicans — so far. It is anything but trivial not to want to see what happened to the Jewish people at the hands of a demagogue happen to another vulnerable societal out-group.
I think most Jewish people know that having Jewish family members does not in itself disqualify someone from being an anti-Semite, especially when the decision to bring Jewish people into the family was not their own.
Did Rabbi Boteach not know that Trump’s wife Ivana revealed in 1990 that her husband kept a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside? I think that before writing his article, the rabbi had a responsibility to have researched this information. What was Trump’s response at the time? He admitted it, and said that his friend, Marty Davis from Paramount Pictures, gave him the book and that he was a Jew. When asked, Davis confirmed that he gave him “My New Order” and that he was Trump’s friend — but that he was not Jewish. Not only do I find it troubling that Trump, who doesn’t read very much, spent time reading Hitler’s speeches, but I also find it troubling that Trump assumed that his friend was Jewish just because he worked in Hollywood. It’s all very troubling when you look at it.
In the context of what Trump recently said in a conversation with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, his idea that recent desecrations of Jewish cemeteries could possibly be the reverse of what they seem, Vice President Pence’s photo op at a Jewish cemetery, referenced by Boteach in his article, seems pretty empty. Trump’s words blamed our own community for these attacks, and that can only fuel the fires of anti-Semitism amongst his followers, many of whom have already shown a strong proclivity in that direction.
Rabbi Boteach conveniently avoided the entire subject of Steve Bannon, Trump’s choice for chief strategist, along with Bannon’s personal and professional history of anti-Semitic statements and promoting white supremacy on a website, in print media, and on film. These are pretty big things to overlook, yet Boteach manages to do just that by failing to include and address the subject.
When Rabbi Boteach pointed out that Hitler ran gas chambers that killed 100,000 Jews a day, he conveniently left out the fact that he was comparing the culmination of Hitler’s activities with the first 30 days of Trump’s reign. Trump has been doing or saying something more horrible and extreme almost every day since the start of his campaign. This stuff is escalating. Already Trump is rounding up minorities and ripping children out of their mother’s arms in detention camps. We as Jewish people can’t look away; if we did that, it would be an obscenity. Phil Murphy’s astute and courageous decision to point out the obvious parallels between Donald Trump and his administration and the leaders of the Third Reich is not an obscenity, as Boteach characterizes it. It is a responsibility of decent leadership.
What was most insulting to my intelligence was Boteach’s repeated reference to Trump as being “democratically elected” and to Phil Murphy’s inability to “accept the results of the election” in the context of the credible reports of Russian interference in our election. To call Trump democratically elected in the context of the improper actions of the FBI, which chose to remain silent about what it knew about the interference of that foreign power before the election, while releasing baseless and confusing trivial material about Hillary Clinton, is preposterous and outrageous. It is completely rational to not accept the results of this election along with Donald Trump and his crew of accomplices.
Boteach wrote this nonsensical statement about Murphy’s audience reaction: “the reception his audience gave his speech — they were silent — being equally disappointing. People who call themselves progressives should exhibit progressive values, which reject genocide, intolerance, anti-Semitism, and demagoguery.” How is not accepting Trump, who selected a vice-president who is intolerant of gay people, a chief strategist who is a virulent anti-Semite and promoter of white supremacy, and an attorney general who has worked against civil rights for racial minorities, not rejecting genocide intolerance and anti-Semitism? How is not accepting Trump, who is a textbook demagogue, not rejecting demagoguery? Anyone who apologizes for and supports Trump in any way is someone who is, at the moment, accepting intolerance, anti-Semitism, and demagoguery, and history has shown how this can escalate, when not opposed, into genocide.
Rabbi Boteach might be a kindly ostrich who refuses to look at the obvious parallels between where our country is now and what occurred in Hitler’s Germany and the striking parallels between Hitler and Trump, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… He might be overlooking the multitude of reasons why Trump is unfit for the office he is in because he likes Trump’s stand on Jerusalem, but that is truly making a deal with the devil. Trump does know how to say what people want to hear, but his track record in business shows his words are just as likely to be empty promises as not.
Our community has to be too smart to fall for his tricks and above being bought. I found it horrifying that a respected leader of the Jewish community chose to enable this demagogue and to belittle those who recognize Trump for who he is and what he does. It takes more than just saying “never again” — you have to put your actions and integrity behind those words. The world is watching the American Jewish community, and history will judge us for how we respond at this time. Now is the time to act with courage, compassion and the wisdom we have hopefully gained from our great loss and suffering. Nothing trivializes the Holocaust more than the Jewish people who have not learned from it.
Lori Joachim Fredrics
Rabbi Boteach’s column was in Breitbart first
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s op ed (“Comparing Trump to Hitler trivializes the Holocaust,” March 3) sadly suffers from a dubious interpretation of Mr. Phil Murphy’s remarks concerning President Donald Trump. Rabbi Boteach vilifies Murphy with what feels like the same tactics that Mr. Trump uses: taking a statement and manipulating its meaning beyond its actual wording.
The comparison Murphy made was to the Adolph Hitler who promised upon his ascendancy to power to uphold the constitution and govern for the good of the nation. Hitler then proceeded to denigrate the opposition party and vilify the media.
Murphy’s exact quote was, “I have lived in Germany twice — once as a private citizen and once as the United States ambassador, and I’m a modest student of Germany history. And I know what was being said about somebody else in the 1920s. And you could unfortunately drop in names from today into those observations from the 1920s, and the moves that have been made early on only aid and abet that argument.”
That does not sound like hyperbole to me — it sounds like an authentic description of the political disarray in which this country now finds itself.
It is hardly necessary to go into the many shrill and bizarre statements that Donald Trump has made in the nearly eight weeks of his presidency. His accusations against the media (“the lying media… enemy of the American people”) are accusations that plainly mirror those of Adolph Hitler. One need not be a fanatic to Hitler’s degree to share some of the same nefarious attributes. Both leaders are unfit by temperament and experience, and pose a potential danger to democratic norms.
Finally, Rabbi Boteach might also want to consider whether writings like his should also be appearing in online publications like Breitbart, where his essay appeared word for word even before the Jewish Standard arrived in our homes. With friends like Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, Rabbi Boteach’s protestations carry an eerie irony.