Opinion |

America Uber Alles

Trump’s voice will echo throughout the world and will become a source of inspiration and legitimacy for the extreme right, from Europe to Israel.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.Credit: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/AFP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Just translate the inauguration speech into German and you’ve got “Deutschland uber Alles.” The same spirit, the same intention. “Germany, Germany above all,” just as “it’s going to be only America first, America first.” “German women, German loyalty / German wine and German song,” just like “American hands and American labor.” “Towards these let us all strive / Brotherly with heart and hand!” Just like “When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

America first or Germany above all else, President Donald Trump gave a frightening speech on Friday. The only solace is the hope that it might only talk, but that’s cold comfort indeed. If he does carry out his statement that “Now arrives the hour of action,” America is in trouble. The world is in trouble. Israel is in trouble. Everybody is in big trouble.


Populism poured from his every remark, fascism — without violence, as yet — from every sentence. Anyone who says “one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny,” is speaking fascism. Anyone who talks about “the red blood of patriots” and “the great American flag” cannot but evoke unbearable memories. Anyone who promises power to the people while appointing mainly disconnected billionaires and not a single regular person to the highest positions, is a dangerous pretender. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid has much to learn from Trump, as does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And those two junior fascists also don’t have the U.S. president’s potential to jeopardize the welfare of the entire world.

All of the small hopes were dashed at once on Friday. Remember that day. Remember what you were doing, because someday you will be asked where you were. On January 20, 2017, something changed. The world became a dangerous place once more. It has a leader who is disposed to threaten its very existence, who is liable to lose control of his actions.

Anyone who was infuriated by actress Meryl Streep’s implied criticism of him could explode as the result of a state’s action — Trump is in charge of weapons of mass destruction. Anyone who promises to “eradicate completely from the face of the earth” radical Islamic terrorism could eradicate everything from the face of the earth. If God is on his side — how much God was in the ceremony, how many Christian clergymen, how many closed eyes and even a rabbi — and sickening amounts of megalomania (“from this day forward, a new vision will govern our land”), then the sky’s the limit. And the skies on Friday were grayer than they’ve been for a long time.

A new era, he promised. His voice will echo throughout the world and will become a source of inspiration and legitimacy for the extreme right, from Marine Le Pen and Narendra Modi to the Sweden Democrats and the freedom parties of Austria and Netherlands to our very own Bezalel Smotrich of Habayit Hayehudi. They will all grow stronger now, aided by the tailwind from America. Ultranationalists of the world, unite. All of the xenophobes, the racists, the anti-minority and anti-Arab people — and the anti-Semites as well — will lift up their heads and say: Look at Washington, from there the law goes forth.

This will be the hardest hour of the world’s weak, for the friend of the powerful has come to sit in the White House. From the Palestinians to the polar bear, going extinct due to global warming, everyone will be his victim. The first came on Friday, the 18 million Americans who will lose the health insurance that they gained thanks to Barack Obama, the president whose successor disparaged him disgracefully on Friday.

Nor do Israelis have a reason to celebrate, not even those of his own ilk. It’s true that the sight of the Adelsons sitting in the third row of the VIP section does not bode well, nor does the appointment of friends of the settlers to key positions in the administration. But it is impossible to ignore Trump’s remark that the United States has “subsidized the armies of other countries ... and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas. ... But that is the past.” If that does not apply to Israel, then to whom does it apply?

“[W]e are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God,” said No. 45. And who will protect us from someone who speaks like that?

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