Less than a year ago the Israeli populace was rocked to its core when Sergeant Elor Azaria fired his weapon into the supine body of a Palestinian who had just stabbed and moderately wounded a soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron and was subsequently arrested. The whole country split in two, overcome by dramatically opposing responses to his actions. One camp raged that the soldier shouldn't have been arrested. After all, this terrorist had viciously threatened the lives of others and, although neutralized, remained a threat. "Why not shoot him!" These same voices, furious at the latest spate of terrorist acts intended to take lives and cause excruciating emotional pain, thought the soldier was justified in completing the job. After all, he'd been hell-bent on taking the life of a soldier; taking him out meant there'd be one less terrorist to contend with. They jumped to the defense of this soldier, really just a young boy dressed up in green and holding a rifle. "Azaria is one of our boys! We armed him. We placed that gun in his hands! We instructed him to defend his people and that's exactly what he did." They insisted that he was just like every other soldier, any one of which could be our own and, accordingly, deserved the complete support of the Israeli populace.

But there were other reactions as well, ones like my own; individuals appalled by the obvious disconnect between this one soldier's action (yes, definitely action...not re-action) and the initial attack itself: not a matter of seconds but instead, minutes. Eleven long minutes separated Azaria's deed from the original attack, moving it to an entirely different plain, one far more dubious, amorphous and maybe even a touch insidious. The video footage that emerged almost immediately (as it is wont to do these days) could not justify the actions of this young man and instead, made clear that shooting this already neutralized terrorist was nothing more than a travesty of justice--in fact, murder. And nine months later, just a week or so ago, the Tel Aviv Military court announced its judgment: Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter.

Again, a country-wide uproar. "But he's our son!" And it is precisely here where, as far as I'm concerned, these voices crossed a line. This young man is most definitely not my son. This soldier who decided to shoot a man--albeit a terrorist--who was lying on the ground, clearly incapacitated, is not "just like any other" soldier. I know something about soldiers. I have one currently serving in one elite combat unit and another who's just completed his service in yet another; two sons who live and have lived with both stress and fear, with the knowledge that their lives can be taken from them, just as they can take that of others. Yet both my sons have a clear sense of right and wrong. They're faithful to their country to a T but serve it guided not only by the guidelines of the IDF but additionally, by their own moral compass. They know that once a "threat" is neutralized the cogs of the machine continue to turn and their role, as protective shield, is to step back and let others take over.

The issue of that sticky wicket, a moral compass, have become headline news this past election year. After all, while the paucity of such in one lone twenty year old is reprehensible and tragic, its significance  for one much farther up the totem pole, that individual imminently set to become the leader of the Free World,  is globally catastrophic. President-elect Trump's every action, every platitude and every, gulp, tweet, makes clear that he follows no ethical code, is not guided by any clear set of values and in fact has no real vision for the country he stands to control.  How ironic that the U.S. Office of Government Ethics has, just this past week, admitted to having "lost contact" with Trump's transition team--yes, just weeks before the inauguration!

It's one thing for a young man schooled in hatred and placed in an emotionally-tense situation following an egregious terror attack to act on impulse, and quite another to do so when every word affects a billion lives. Yes, we are entering very dangerous territory. Drifting downstream toward the inauguration of a President whose principles, if he has any, are unclear, who seems to stand for nothing and have very little interest in anything other than his own glorification, is both shocking and terrifying. What a travesty that just as this world heads into ever more terrifying times, Americans and, in fact, individuals all over the world, are stuck with a man whose idea of leadership is a punchy slogan with an exclamation mark.

So, just to be clear. Just as I disavow connection with Azaria, yes, with this one Israeli soldier, swimming against a tide of local patriots and firmly denying that his actions were, in any way, acceptable, I reject Trump. This soon-to-be president does not and will not ever represent my United States of America.  Remaining a faithful patriot does not require turning a blind eye to moral corruption and what is, ultimately, downright wrong.

There is such a thing as a bad apple and sometimes you have to call it as you see it. 


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