President-elect Donald Trump gives his first Thanksgiving message (GreatAgain.gov screen cap)
 
 
More than two weeks after Republican Donald Trump's surprise election as President of the United States, the world is still reeling. Protests erupted from some on the left, acts of hate and violence from some the right. The American Jewish community, overwhelming voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, with only 28 percent voting for Republican Donald Trump. They are fear white nationalists supporting Trump, and his association and now the appointment of former chairman of Breitbart News Stephen Bannon because of his publication, which caters to nationalists and the alt-right, and an alleged past anti-Semitic comments. Despite this, American Jews have little to worry, in fact, Trump, personally is probably the most pro-Jewish president the United States has had yet and has promised the most pro-Israel agenda.

Trump is the first president to have close family members that are Jewish. His daughter Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2009 for her marriage to Jared Kushner, and his three grandchildren are being raised as Orthodox Jews. If we are to believe news reports, Kushner's influence looms large over Trump, the fledgling administration, and the transition. The president-elect also has a bevy of Jewish advisors, potential cabinet members, and White House staff that are Jewish.

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That being said, Trump started-off with his relationship with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the right foot. Netanyahu was one of the first world leaders to call and congratulate Trump on being elected. Trump, in turn, invited Netanyahu to meet with him, even before he takes the oath of office in January, but Netanyahu decided to wait in respect to President Barack Obama. Even the two governments have promoted a friendly relationship between the two first ladies, Sara Netanyahu and Melania Trump.


While on Tuesday, Nov. 15, Netanyahu told the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly (JFNAGA) in Washington via satellite, he finds the new administration encouraging for Israel. The prime minister told the audience "I look forward to working with President-elect Trump to further the twin interests of peace and security. I, for one, find great encouragement in the fact that there's this continuity of friendship." Trump, in turn, told Israel Hayom in a post-election interview "I love and respect Israel and its citizens."

Recently, Republicans have been more sympathetic to Israel especially in Congress, than President Obama's administration. Obama was downright hostile to Israel in a soft-spoken way, and chilly to Netanyahu, and there remain two months in Obama's presidency. So far, Trump has not officially dialed back only any of his campaign promises regarding Israel, affirming, that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace. With Jason Greenblatt, Trump's co-chairman of his Israel Advisory Committee, saying, "It is certainly not Mr. Trump's view that settlement activities should be condemned and that it is an obstacle for peace, because it is not an obstacle for peace."

There are signs of wavering; his advisors, however, have made conflicting remarks on whether he will keep his campaign pledge to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Walid Phares, Trump's senior foreign policy advisor, said it would be done if there is a "consensus," but David Friedman, a Trump adviser on Israel and the Middle East, promised, "It was a campaign promise and there is every intention to keep it. We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way." No president has been willing to move the embassy out of fear of offending Palestinians until a peace agreement is at hand. Phares also indicated Trump might not entirely throw out the Iran deal, and instead amend it, which Netanyahu wants added sanctions for Iran.

America under President Obama has hardly been this oasis for minorities and the Jewish community. Anti-Semitism has risen especially on college campuses, where the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is flourishing. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported: "anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses nearly doubled." In general, anti-Semitism has been in decline in the past ten years according to the ADL, and their report was in June after Trump clinched the nomination.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's national director, changed his tone at ADL's first ever "Never Is Now" summit in New York recently, claiming, the raise of anti-Semitism and linking to Trump's ascendance. Greenblatt said in the summit's opening remarks, "The American Jewish community, our community, has not seen this level of anti-Semitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s. Sadly, it is only being matched with escalating levels of hate toward other minorities today." Greenblatt blames Trump and his support from white nationalist and the alt-right which he failed to completely denounced for the rise in anti-Semitism. The ADL director also called Bannon's appointment "hostile to core American values."

Meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer defended both Trump and Bannon while speaking to reporters after a meeting at Trump Tower. Dermer said that the Israeli government "has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel." Dermer also "look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever." The Zionist Organization of America is also defending Bannon saying Greenblatt's accusations amount to a "character assassination."

While the Jewish community is suspect of Trump, some in the American mainstream news media believe he is catering too much to Israel. Oren Dorell wrote an article for USA Today, entitled, "Candidate Trump's embrace of Israeli policies may ease once he's president" sympathetic to the Palestinians and in opposition to Trump's staunch Israel policies. Dorell's article seems more problematic for the Jewish community and Israel than anything Trump has said or done on the campaign trail. The author hopes Trump will abandon his pro-Israel attitude and revert to Obama's lukewarm, tough love approach.

Under a change of administrations and parties, the Jewish community should at the start try to be optimistic rather than doom and gloom which was the vibe coming from the recent Jewish Federation of North America's General Assembly and the cause of ADL's first summit on anti-Semitism. The election was divisive, one of the nastiest and ugliest in history, the country, and the world is still reeling, uncertain at Trump and the policies he will implement versus those he spouted in the campaign as he tried to garner votes.

Since the election, Trump has softened his tone, showing the realities of governing versus campaigning require a more tempered and realistic viewpoint. We cannot blame some people that chose to follow Trump when those are not the policies he espouses, and he has already condemned their actions and told them to "stop it"  on national television, and according to the American news media, Trump is too pro-Israel. Maybe other minorities have to be concerned about Trump's campaign rhetoric and prospective policies, but the Jewish community is not one of them.      
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