Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shake It Off, America

Katie is someone I have known for years, but never met. We belong to the same profession, but live very different lives. For a while, I envied her - when she and her husband took off for a life that was sea-bound while I feel forever tied to land, family, Israel. We've had very little one-on-one contact over the years - especially for the last few years when I've been less active on one particular email group.

I am well aware that I was one of three Israelis on that email list; most were Americans, most liberal and Democratic. My fondest memory of the group occurred over a decade ago. I felt beaten and lost, constantly in mourning. Each time a bus exploded or a mall was attacked, each time we went through multiple funerals, I thought I had reached the end of my ability to cope. Even worse when the very next day, there was another attack and so even more funerals.

Without my knowing it, the group got together and decided that each person would send me something. One man, a Jew who lives in San Francisco but is not religious/kosher, warned the others that as a religious Jew, I would not be able to eat most of what they wanted to send me and so they agreed to collectively pool money and make some purchases.

Right before the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, I received a small chest filled with chocolates, honey and wine - all strictly kosher. To this day, over a decade later, I still have that box...and the next one that they sent me a few days later because so many had donated so much, they were able to send me TWO gifts...and a third a bit later - a gift certificate to Amazon.

Each time there was an attack here, for months after I received those boxes, I thought about the people who cared enough to reach out and offer comfort. Katie was one of those people. I've had a soft spot for her for years. She confessed her own problems to the list at one point and it was one that I was familiar with, having very close friends who were experiencing the same issues.

Over time, the contact moved to Facebook and I watched as she wrote that they'd sold their boat (ship? I'm so bad knowing when to call it a boat and when to call it a ship) and settled back on land. I didn't know she even reads my blog - or maybe it was just one post in particular (What Victory Should Mean).

Katie left a comment, one that upset me, hurt me, accused me and I've been thinking how to respond ever since. Katie wrote:
Dear Paula,
I am an independent. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary. However, I voted for Hilary Clinton on Tuesday. I voted for her because the alternative was a horrible man who has bankrupted small contractors, partied with convicted sexual predators (in December there will be a trial in New York where he will have to defend himself against the alleged rape of a 13 year old girl at one of Epstein's "Parties". He is the one is stated at his rallies that he would not accept the results of the election if he lost. That is why they asked him that in the debate. Yes, they did ask Hilary and she said she would, of course, accept the results. He is the one that asked, "Why can't we use nukes?" or stated that he believed in "One God, One country."
I am not sure what news you were listening to or reading but there are a lot of different news sites out there. It is his words and deeds that make him the monster. It is supporters that spew bile and blows on anyone that isn't just like them. Do you really want to see an America that is a symbol of White, Male, "Christian" religious authoritarianism? Do you think that this will, in some way, help Israel? Why do you want America to suffer? Are you mad at me? Did I do something to offend you? Why do you want my black friends, my female relatives, and my gay friends to live in fear?
I've read this many times. She is not the only one of my friends, distant and close, to have offered support for Hillary. One friend of almost 30 years is so upset with the election (and apparently me) that she has unfollowed me on Facebook. This was clearly the worst election in US history, certainly recent history. Katie says that it is Trump supporters that spew bile and blow on anyone that isn't just like them - and yet it seems to be Clinton supporters spewing hatred and violence, looting, shooting and rioting now.

She supported Bernie Sanders - clearly the most anti-Israel politician that ran in this election - second only to Clinton. Had Bernie (or Clinton) been elected, my son's LIFE (not his life style and not his economic safety, but his LIFE) would have been endangered. Both Sanders and Clinton would have continued to accept Iran's push for nuclear power while doing all they could to strangle Israel for building some apartments on the mountains north and east of Jerusalem. Both would have sought to punish Israel with sanctions while freely allowing millions of dollars to flow to Iran. Israel would use its aid package to continue to develop defensive weapons, while Iran has and will use this money for offensive weapons and support of terror. She supported Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton - and yet I have accused none of my friends of attempting to murder my child or any other Israeli soldier.

I have been told that I have helped destroy lives of people they hold dear and have kept my silence. EVEN IF Gay marriage is rescinded (which Trump has stated he will not do, nor do I believe Congress would support), the LIVES of their loved ones are not endangered. What did gay people do before single-sex marriage was legalized in the United States? The same thing that I would do if the US said Jewish marriages were not legal - I would laugh and continue to love the Jewish man I have loved for 34 years. Yes, they would lose their tax benefits so that means money, right? You compare the importance of MONEY to the LIFE of my son? NO....I'm sorry, just NO.

And yet, I kept my silence, until now. I didn't explode in anger. I would die for my children and I do not merely say those words. Elie, Davidi, Shmuli and Lazer all have guns and yet, if danger approached, I honestly think my natural reaction would be to step in front of them. They (and Amira and Aliza, my children by marriage and my grandchildren), they are my heart, my life and Iran is threatening us while America under Obama hands billions of dollars to them and ignores Israel's intelligence warnings.

But what really got to me where the questions that Katie asked.

Do you really want to see an America that is a symbol of White, Male, "Christian" religious authoritarianism? 

Well, no, but...I really doubt that Trump can, three months before he's even taken office, be accused of changing the way the US is perceived. White? Well, the US is mostly white. Male? I don't think anyone would suggest that any country is all male or mainly male. Christian religious authoritarianism? Wow...so many thoughts there. Where were you when I was told to sing Christmas carols in elementary school; where were you when the principal of my high school brought in a Christmas tree?

I don't believe America under Donald Trump will be any more or less Christian than America was under Obama, but it might just be a nation more tolerant to its Jewish population, which witnessed a serious increase in anti-Semitism during the Obama administration - a trend I never remember you complaining about.

Now the logical concern here might be for the Muslim population of the US, not the Christian one and I'll admit that is a concern but I think America has to be put on alert for all extremes and should the Trump nomination result in a backlash against Muslims, Americans should scream out in anger (something they didn't bother doing during so many anti-Semitic attacks under Obama).

Do you think that this will, in some way, help Israel? 

What? The election of Donald Trump? Hell, yes, it will help Israel. It already has. For the first time in 8 years, Israel is facing a president that will respect and be respectful to OUR democratically elected government. Trump has already invited Netanyahu to the White house - and unlike during the Obama years, we can actually expect Trump to welcome him and be there.

We have had to fight, each time over the last few years, to get US support in the United Nations, even against the most outlandish resolutions (like the one that denied a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount).

The US has withheld intelligence, while expecting Israel to share our intelligence reports and has consistently ignored OUR intelligence findings on Iran - something Trump recognized right away, even before taking office. 

And, of course, there is the Iran agreement, which Trump might work to repeal and even if he doesn't repeal it, he will, at least, demand actual compliance and inspect the nuclear sites. And he might, after 68 years, move the US Embassy to where it belongs (and were it sits in every other country), our national capital, Jerusalem.

Why do you want America to suffer? 

I think the question is why you think I would want America to suffer. I don't. Any more than you do. We may differ on the path, but accusing me of wanting to make America suffer is exactly the problem here. Since when did America become such an intolerant nation, full of people who are so sure they know better than everyone else? That their way is the ONLY way and everyone else is wrong, and worse, full of evil intent.

Are you mad at me? Did I do something to offend you? 

Why would I be mad at you? You live more than 6,000 miles away from me and we have never met in person. Isn't it more logical to assume that I did what I thought was best for America and for my family? Why are umaking this personal? Did I? Did I accuse you of trying to endanger my son or, for that matter, my own life given what Iran wants to do if it manages to go nuclear?

Why do you want my black friends, my female relatives, and my gay friends to live in fear?

And of all the questions, this is the one that bothers me the most. Not "do you want" but "why do you want". A foregone conclusion that I am anti-black, anti-female, anti-gay because I dared to support Trump.

Live in fear. There are phrases that trigger an automatic response inside my brain, that tie two concepts together without conscious thought. "Live in fear" is one of them.

Katie and another friend of mine have brought this issue to a personal level, accused me of damaging, endangering, hurting, causing fear. Live in fear.

People live in fear in Syria - of the next war that will come to their town, of the next missile that will be fired by one of half a dozen countries fighting God knows who to accomplish God knows what in a land torn apart by hatred and intolerance.

Jews lived in fear during the Holocaust. Women in the Congo live in fear, where an estimated 400,000 women are raped each year. Donald Trump has not taken office. He has done nothing to warrant the fear people claim they have. He has appointed a few people who have done nothing because they have no power, have not taken office.

Look at the examples above - Syria, Europe during the Holocaust, the Congo.  There people have or had very good reasons to live in fear. Is your faith in democracy so weak? What are you afraid of?

That Trump will outlaw gay marriage? He has already said he won't. But even if he did...which he won't...what is there to fear? That you won't get a tax break? No one is going to come into your home and force one of you to move out, come into your bedroom and make sure you aren't having sex.

If you are black, what do you fear? An increase in racism? Excuse me, but under the last black president, the racial divide in the US became enormous, ugly, so horrible.

If 50% of the US population (women) are living in fear, there is a lot more wrong with America than just the election of Donald Trump.

One of the things that I always loved about America was its potential, its ability to be so much to so many. It was the land where people went to be free. But more, it was a land of courage, willing to reach out and do what was right in the world.

Right now, as I listen and watch what is happening, I am shocked by the anger, by the hate, by the violence. The accusations, the lies, the cruelty, the pettiness.

A designer promises not to "dress" the new first lady; people complain because the Trumps have decided that it is best for their youngest son not to move to Washington in the middle of a school year. People who would have done anything to keep the Trumps out of the White House, not complain that they won't move in. People who never complained about the rise of anti-Semitism, suddenly scream out that they are worried about what will happen to Jews under the Trump administration.

Joe Biden takes it upon himself to assure Jews that the Trump administration won't hurt Israel because "Congress" won't let him? Joe Biden who never cared about Israel, who went along with the Iran deal and the regular pattern of disrespect...Joe Biden? Joe Biden, who cheated in a law school test. Joe Biden who plagiarized a speech written by a British Minister. Joe Biden!

Dear Katie - I have done nothing to hurt you. America will not be destroyed by Donald Trump...but it might be destroyed by the people who have become enamored with fear. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "You have nothing to fear, but fear itself."

Shake it off, America. Wake up and start rebuilding. Stop the violence; stop the rioting. Stop the hate. But most of all, America, stop the fear. What you fail to understand is that there are nations and people out there celebrating your fear. Israel is not one of them. I am not one of them.

The stronger America is, the more likely it is to maintain its place as a leader of the free world. Right now, you are teetering on the edge and it is fear at your back that is trying to push you off. Shake it off, Katie. Shake it off, America.


toni said...

Well said! you have conveyed the exact sentiment that I feel. I'm not a writer, or eloquent and I thank you for the post.

sheldan said...


Please allow me to respond to Katie. I may have to go to multiple posts.


Let's face it--this election was the worst choice in American history. Yes, we had a horrible man who in another election year wouldn't have survived the primaries. And we had a former First Lady with enough baggage to have sunk her as well. But the horrible man steamrolled 16 rivals--most of whom would have been a better candidate and would have easily beaten Hillary. And the former first lady was on her way to a "coronation" because it was "her time"--and there was token opposition, even from Sanders; there was no real Democratic candidate who had a chance against Hillary, and everyone assumed an easy election.

Many of us, it turned out, could not "hold their nose" and vote for the major nominees, even if one of them probably would win in any event. I wrote in John Kasich, who I believed was the best candidate. Others voted for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, another write-in, or gave up on the presidential election and voted down-ballot.

Once Trump had the nomination, the Republicans who "supported" Trump were criticized for the same reasons you stated. I think they did not really support Trump, but they had little choice. These votes for Trump probably were "votes against Hillary." And a lot of the votes for Hillary were, in reality, "votes against Trump." With a lot of these negative votes, was this a vote for Trump's actions, or was this a vote against what many suspected Hillary would be like once she was in office?

I decided early on not to hold anyone's votes against them. No matter who won, we would be in for a long four years. I believe that it didn't matter who was elected. (In this way, I disagree with both you and Paula.) All we can do is to hope for the best with respect to the Supreme Court, Israel, ObamaCare, the economy, Russia, Iran, and all the other issues which will need to be dealt with, and in 2020 we will have the election we were robbed of this year.

sheldan said...

Now, I must respond to your idea that America will change for the worse because Trump was elected. We've been in this position before--the people elected someone we all feared was going to do something awful and destroy the "progress" we had made. Did we not survive a Civil War? World War II? 9/11? All of a sudden, the election of Trump makes us feel that we will revert to slavery, Jim Crow, anti-Semitic quotas, a "patriarchy"?

I think America is stronger than this. However, I also understand why you might think that your "friends" might think they will "live in fear." But do you understand why others were "living in fear" during this administration? When this president took the country to the left, and forced major changes accordingly, a lot of us were probably just as resentful as you are now. Are they not allowed to be as concerned as you are? Is it because they are religious, patriotic as they were raised, believing in moral values that conflict with what is "progressive"? Unfortunately, I think that a lot of those on the left are not as "tolerant" as they claim to be. If the government shoves policies that not all of us can approve of down our throats, and if everyone doesn't approve of this, we are accused of being SIXHIRB (Dennis Prager's phrase)--meaning sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, or bigoted. Isn't there another explanation for Trump's support--maybe there are people who don't want the government to dictate to the people what they should do or think? And if you didn't vote for Hillary, are you lumped in with the "deplorables" and are called names on the left--exactly what you accuse the "right" of doing?

sheldan said...

And why are people "demonstrating" (some would read rioting) in the streets simply because their candidate didn't win? Or worse, "sitting shiva" and needing "safe spaces" to "protect" their egos from the horror of a Trump presidency? When the other side was victorious, did we see this from the defeated party? I've never heard of such behavior, and anyone who did this should be ashamed.

Just because we may have to reconsider some government actions doesn't mean a move to "White, Male, 'Christian' religious authoritarianism." Government can overreach, and maybe leftists are concerned about change, but then again maybe the ones who had the recent changes forced upon them were also concerned about change. Maybe the best policy is one that does not completely satisfy both sides, but extremism does not help anyone and continues the divisiveness.

Yes, we need to "shake it off, America." I am sorry, Katie, if anything in this comment is hurtful to you. However, we now have no choice but to see what happens, which may actually be better than anyone thinks in the shock of this election.

sheldan said...


You wouldn't believe how much work I am doing to be so eloquent! But I appreciate the sentiment.

Wolfgang said...

People argue.
People sue.
People kill.

"And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.
And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
... and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him."


But the time will come when we will all be able to live together lovingly ... we all and forever.

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