Opinion

Does Miriam Adelson Really Think Donald 'Go Back' Trump Still Deserves His Own Book in the Bible?

Adelson’s drooling suggestion mirrors the quasi-Messianic way Trump’s religious fans refer to him. But we religious Jews cannot be complicit in his racism, just because he didn't single us out – this time

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media at the White House in Washington, DC. July 12, 2019
AFP

Miriam Adelson, one of the world’s wealthiest and well-connected Jewish philanthropists, recently expressed her hope that the Bible would soon be welcoming another canonical text: the Book of Trump

Whether Christian or Jewish, religious supporters of the president often point to his moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as a quasi-Messianic move, mirroring the moment that King David brought the ancient ark of the covenant to Judaism’s most sacred city.

But those same religious communities were silent in the wake of Adelson's remarks. That might be a sign that they missed it, or dismissed it.

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But bearing in mind the Evangelical community and Orthodox Jewish community's fervent support for the president, and the frequent defenses of his policies and conduct by their religious leaders, it's safer to assume they condone, if not, concur, with Adelson's statement.

Jews have long been referred to as the "People of the Book." Christians hold the "Good Book" sacred. The Bible tells us that God created the universe through speech.

As inheritors of the Declaration of Independence, we are dutifully aware of the sacred role language plays in building a society and in shaping our children’s perceptions and understanding of what is worthy, holy or even good.

As a religious Jewish father, I often wonder what my seven-year-old daughter will think when she looks back at the 2016 election, and discovered that our country elected a man who broadcast racist language to millions, boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, threatened to block all Muslims from entering our country, and impersonated a man with physical disabilities.

How will our children reconcile the 45th president's language with the rhetoric of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln? 

To me, the 2020 presidential election is not only a political enterprise, it is a religious opportunity.

That's why I felt disappointed watching the recent Democratic debates and the inability of almost all the candidates to reference God. That's especially bleak when the Republican party regularly incorporates God into its rhetoric and seeks to "own" religious language.

That’s why Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s remarks from that evening have resonated deeply with me. "For a party that associates itself with Christianity," Buttigieg said, "to say it is okay to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language." 

Over 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians. Given the detention of children along our nation's border, let’s talk about what the Christian thing to do might be. Would Jesus not wipe the tears of migrant children locked in cages? Would Moses not hold the taskmasters accountable? Why have not all major faith groups declared a moral emergency in the wake of such news?

President Donald Trump's recent tweets calling for political opponents with whom he disagrees to "go back" to where they came from ought give Jewish Americans pause, in particular.

Haven't we been told by anti-Semites the world over to "go back to where we came from"? Where might we "go back" to? Eastern Europe? Israel? Pharoah's Egypt?

If the president believes that the "authenticity" of Americanness can be established by skin color, or the "quality" of one's country of origin – from "shithole" to "broken" and "crime infested" – how can we be complicit, just because he didn't single us out – this time?

We should ask ourselves: what stories would be included in the Bible’s Book of Trump?

Will we record the dozens of women who accused this man of sexual impropriety? What of his response to the most recent and damning accusation of rape? Did he offer any sympathy to her suffering? "She’s not my type," said our president. Will The Book of Trump include his serial equation between neo-Nazis and counter-protestors, or will that be expunged? 

Dr. Adelson, a supporter of Holocaust memorial organizations and Jewish schools, surely understands the importance of historicity in education as well as the need to cultivate a high caliber of upstanding ethics. "The Lord despises lying lips," the Bible teaches. In the President’s first 100 days in office, reporters counted over 490 misleading or false statements. How then will we juxtapose his speech along Exodus' edict "keep far distance from falsehood"? 

Granted, religious communities might strongly disprove of documenting the tales of Trump alongside the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Nevertheless, those of us who identify as religious Americans need ask ourselves, irrespective of party affiliation, Republican, Democrat or Independent: is this president the best and most honest embodiment of our religious and spiritual values? Or does he, rather, undermine, disrespect and invert them?

There is no need for more verses in the Trump hagiography. No need to re-crown a false messiah.

It's time religious Americans of all colors and backgrounds to state loudly and unabashedly: voting for Donald Trump in 2020 is a sin we cannot comit, in all conscience. The soul of our nation, and the values we seek to pass on to our children, are at stake. 

Rabbi Avram Mlotek is a founder of Base Hillel, a home-centered ministry serving young Jews worldwide. Twitter: @RabbiAvMlotek