Opinion |

If Israel Were the Only Issue, My Vote Would Be for Trump

Anti-Semites are all over the fringes of this election. But any suggestion that they are worse on Trump’s right fringe than Clinton’s left fringe is illusory.

Seth Lipsky
Seth Lipsky
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A public relations assistant holds up Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pens during the 10th Annual 'Stand Up For Heroes Event' presented by the New York Comedy Festival and the Bob Woodruff Foundation at Madison Square Garden in New York on November 1, 2016.
A public relations assistant holds up Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pens during the 10th Annual 'Stand Up For Heroes Event' in New York on November 1, 2016.Credit: AFP / Angela Weiss
Seth Lipsky
Seth Lipsky

Speculation that President Obama is preparing to move during his weeks as a lame duck to recognize the State of Palestine certainly puts into sharp relief the Israel angle to the November 8 election. Would Hillary Clinton go along with such a scheme were she the victor next week? Would Donald Trump be able to stop it were he to pull off an election upset?

Against an Iran appeaser, Trump is the easy choice on Israel

These questions make it ever more clear that were Israel the only issue — it’s not, though it’s a big one — Donald Trump would be the easy choice. At least for those of us who favor Vladimir Jabotinsky among the giants of the founding generation. And at least against Hillary Clinton, an architect of the appeasement of Iran. Her running mate, Tim Kaine, was a leader of the boycott of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech last year to a joint meeting of Congress.

It’s not that I’m a Clinton hater. I twice endorsed Bill Clinton for president. He vowed to steer Democrats back from the wilderness into which they followed Senator George McGovern. It didn’t stick. The Democrats today are far from the days when they took America into World War II. And sent an army to help free Vietnam and fend off a communist conquest. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the Democrats have become the party of retreat and disengagement. Russia and China are on the march.

Clinton, continuing Obama’s policy of retreat

It is hard to imagine that Hillary Clinton is going to reverse that or do an about face on Israel. She forsook her vote for the Iraq war when the going got rough. She was part of a unanimous Senate that, in 2002, passed a bill requiring the State Department to issue to an American born in Jerusalem papers listing his birthplace as Israel. Once at the State Department, she refused such papers to Menachem Zivotofsky and betrayed Congress before the Supreme Court.

When violence erupted at Egypt in 2012, Clinton blamed it on a crude internet video. But what was that video? It was made by a Coptic Christian to protest the raids on Christian villages at Egypt, a kind of primal scream against the murder of Christians. On violence against Christians, Mrs. Clinton was mainly muted.

It is reported – by no less a figure than President George W. Bush, at, I’m told, a recent dinner in New York — that Hillary Clinton was the stalwart in the White House Situation Room when President Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet she has been part of an administration that is slashing the American defense budget, a marker of our future preparedness.

Unlike the Democrats, the GOP has proven its commitment to Israel

Obama going Amid speculation that Obama will, after the election, move against Israel at the United Nations, she has stood silent. Wikileaks emails suggest her advisers have been coaching her to avoid the Jewish State when she’s on the campaign trail (they do mark her hostility to BDS). There’s always a risk in politics, but it’s hard to argue that on Israel the bigger risk arises from the Republicans.

It is true that, late in 1988, President Reagan, by then a lame duck himself, decided to talk directly with the PLO. The conservative Wall Street Journal issued an editorial — “The Palestine Trap” — warning of the consequences. It was a harbinger of the Republicans emerging as the less likely to stand between Israel and her enemies and more likely to stand behind the Jewish state. What a contrast with the Democrats.

It’s not Trump who’s exacerbating the immigration debate

The Jewish community worries about immigration. I’m as close to the open borders camp as any editor in America and believe that free trade and the free movement of capital require the free movement of labor. None is absolute. All represent transactions among individuals. To the degree that America has an immigration problem, my own view is that the right policy is economic growth. Get growth, and we’ll be begging for immigrants.

Trump has been acknowledging precisely that point, as recently as Sunday, when he spoke in New Mexico. What has exacerbated the immigration debate is not Trump but the eight years of growth averaging below 2% that have resulted from the Obama-Clinton administration’s policies. Trump’s pro-growth, jobs-creating program is, one could argue, more welcoming of immigration than anything we’re likely to see from the Democrats.

Constitutionally safer

We haven’t had in this (or any other) campaign the debate that I have sought for years — a exchange on the Constitution. I don’t see where Trump would lose it. He and the vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence, are the sole-supporters in this race of the 2nd Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. The feud is not only about guns, but about respecting the parchment’s plain language.

My guess is that the Bill of Rights would be in far safer in the hands with Trump and Pence. Hillary Clinton wants to rewrite the First, and most famous, of the Amendments to deal with a Supreme Court decision allowing companies and labor unions to participate in election financing. It’s hard to think of a major religious freedom case in America in which Hillary Clinton sides with the religious party.

Anti-Semites aren’t worse on Trump’s right fringe than Clinton’s left fringe

Which brings us to the anti-Semites. They are all over the fringes of this election. But any suggestion that they are worse on Trump’s right fringe than Clinton’s left fringe strikes me as chimerical. Leaked emails even show Clinton’s camarilla debating whether to try to make Bernie Sanders’ own religion an issue.

I haven’t yet endorsed a candidate in this race, but if Israel were the only issue, my vote would be for Trump.

Seth Lipsky is editor of The New York Sun. He was a foreign editor of The Wall Street Journal, founding editor of The Forward and editor from 1990 to 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @SethLipsky

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