This week, I decided to respond to the Trumpians who argue that since I am a Jew, I must support Trump because they claim he is good to the Jews, and in particular, Israel.
In order to respond, I want to explain why, in the story of Purim, King Achashverosh is not considered a hero, even though did many things to help the Jews. The Megillah starts off with him throwing a party in which many important Jews were invited. The king subsequently selected Esther (who he later found out was a Jew) as queen and appointed Mordechai (a Jew) as prime minister. When Esther requested that the king issue a decree to allow the Jews to attack their enemies, the king agreed. This was a major concession, since it went against the protocol of the king not reversing his decrees.
I believe that King Achashverosh was an amoral, despicable person who only cared about himself and engaged in immoral acts, some of which I will not mention. One act was so horrendous that it alone shows a person who is inherently evil. The king accepted a bribe from Haman to allow Haman to destroy the Jews. Achashverosh liked the idea so much that he told Haman he could keep the money. Even if you believe that the king did not know that the scattered nation that Haman was going to destroy were the Jews, it is still a despicable act. He is the leader of the country and he does not care if some of his subjects are wiped out. He did not consider the loss of life of these individuals or the impact on the country to be important. His moral depravity is so horrible that we Jews cannot consider him a hero even though he was good for us.
To bring it into a modern context, Trump and Netanyahu have been on the same page on many issues. However, when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus, they have taken diametrically opposite approaches. Netanyahu has taken a hardline approach in dealing with the virus. He first shut down the country in March. Then he reopened the country. However, Israel has seen a second spike, which many blamed on premature reopening. The prime minster took decisive action of shutting down the country a second time. It was the first country to do so. Not only was shutting down the country courageous, but it is more remarkable considering the time of year that it covered. The shutdown started on Rosh HaShanah and ends after Shemini Atezres. Thus, for the entire holiday season, there will be limited indoor shuls. Netanyahu’s government has orthodox parties in the coalition. He knew that some of them may be upset with his edict and therefore it would hurt him politically. In fact, one member resigned in protest. However, the prime minster understood the importance and value of human life and we must do as much possible to make sure people do not needlessly die from COVID-19. This is an important Jewish value; it has many practical applications. We violate laws of Shabbos even when there is a doubt as to whether a person’s life is in danger.
This is in stark contrast to Trump, who has repeatedly downplayed the danger posed by COVID-19. He lied to the American people about its lethalness starting in February and onward. Trump has undermined respect in the infectious disease experts and government agencies by his ridiculing them or by claiming that they are politically motivated and thus their advice should not be followed. He has mocked those who wear masks and engage in social distancing. The president has given incorrect medical advice. The president has held indoor and outdoor rallies with no social distancing and limited mask wearing. Trump was on the stage far from the crowd. He knows that there is danger of getting COVID-19 so he protects himself. However, he could not care less that others are putting their own and other lives at risk. All that matters to him is that these rallies and similar events and policies that put people’s life in jeopardy help him be reelected president. Since he is the president, his statements matter more probably than any other person in the country, especially for his supporters. They listen to Trump and ignore what he calls the fake news or the “swamp” experts. So, when he gives them bad advice in dealing with COVID-19 or helps create conditions that can could cause contracting or spreading the disease, the results can be deadly for them or others who are infected by his supporters. It is not mere coincidence that there have been rising rates of COVID-19 in the Orthodox community, which is solidly pro-Trump. They listen to him and follow his example.
Although Trump is not to blame for all 200,000+ Americans who have died from COVID-19, and more than 7,000,000 million in our country who have contracted the virus, his conduct has resulted, and will continue to result, in needless death and suffering. If you do not want to listen to me, then listen to individuals who have personal knowledge of Trump’s conduct, such as Olivia Troye, who served as Vice President Mike Pence’s security adviser and was at the coronavirus committee meetings
I do not have to address other extensive improper conduct of the president, which is an anathema to what we Jews believe is proper since his lack of concern of the lives of others makes a person unfit for leadership. He is like King Achashverosh in that his disregard for the life of others over whom he rules is enough to consider him to be evil and unfit for office, although he helped the Jews. The president is actually worse, since Achashverosh changed his mind and no Jews were harmed, while Trump’s actions have killed and caused medical harm to the country, including those in the Jewish community.
Although Trump has done some things that are favorable for the Jews and Israel, his actions related to the coronavirus pandemic by themselves are sufficient reason not to support him for reelection.