Let’s focus for a moment on two major headlines that occurred on the same day this week. The first was that Donald Trump continued to feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of American war hero Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The second was that President Barack Obama last January sent Iran $400 million in cash, which in all likelihood will be used to fund terrorism.
Now, I will never defend Trump’s gratuitous insults to so many groups, especially the grieving parents of a fallen American soldier. It’s unforgivable and Trump must apologize. The same is true of his immoral proposal to temporarily ban Islamic immigrants’ entry to the US, which I have repeatedly denounced.
But for all that, which is worse, Trump’s utterly offensive insults or Obama secretly giving a terrorist regime nearly half a billion dollars in cold cash? Hillary Clinton has vowed to continue Obama’s policies on Iran, handing over to the mullahs $150 billion and honoring the nuclear agreement that in about 10 years will make it legal for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
Are Trump’s unforgivable verbal put-downs of Mexicans, Muslims and parents of fallen US soldiers, disgusting as they are, worse than Clinton’s actions in funding the Iranian terrorist regime and facilitating the Iran nuclear agreement, whose architect she claims to be? Whether words or actions are more consequential is an age-old question in Judaism, to which the answer is clear: while words are always important, actions are infinitely more so.
Clinton’s participation in, and stated commitment to, continuing the funding of Iran – which will use the money to create orphans and widows, with Americans and Israelis at the top of the list – is the far greater danger.
There is no excuse for Trump’s appalling insults, whether about John McCain, a Mexican-American judge and especially the Khans. But however reprehensible, these are still words. The money that President Obama, with the aid of his former secretary of state Clinton, is giving to Iran is not offensive, it is deadly. Clinton’s plans to continue to give Iran cold, hard cash will not just offend sensibilities, it will kill people.
In saying this I accept that my argument only applies if Trump’s words are never translated into action. And I expect that they cannot be. There is no reasonable way for Trump to enforce a ban on Muslim immigrants, a position that he is now, in any event, retreating from.
And while Trump may indeed build a wall between the United States and Mexico, I don’t see that wall, which I understand offends many, leading to the murder of innocents.
Likewise, if Trump continues to insult the parents of fallen American war heroes he will continue to invite the contempt and scorn of a large number of Americans, myself included. But it will not lead to American soldiers dying. President Obama’s plane-load of cash to Iran will.
Clinton allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon by continuing with the catastrophic Iran nuclear agreement, which Iran has repeatedly violated, is potentially genocidal, as Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran, has made his intentions very clear. Clinton has never once objected to his repeated promises to wipe Israel off the map. Supporting Iran, with its clear and present danger to the survival of the State of Israel and its promise to bring “Death to America,” is the far greater danger.
I wish I could sit Trump down in a locked room and tell him I’m not going to let him out until he understands that I have a son serving in the IDF on the Israel-Lebanon border right across from Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy army. If Clinton wins the election, Hezbollah will get billions more funneled from a Clinton administration that could, God forbid, further endanger my son’s life.
“Can you therefore, Mr. Trump, not rein in your gratuitous insults so as not to hand Hillary the election? Have you no self-control?” Sadly, I don’t have that kind of relationship with Trump and I’m not sure he would listen to me if I did.
As an American Jew who believes that stopping genocide is the foremost issue of any age, my number one concern today is keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and stopping its weapons flow to terrorists.
But senior Obama adviser Ben Rhodes revealed to The New York Times that the administration, with Clinton as secretary of state, was negotiating with Iran even while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president.
In Christianity personal salvation always comes before communal redemption. It’s the righteousness of the man that matters. In Judaism, however, communal salvation is paramount. A person’s character is subordinate to their actions and the mark they leave on the world.
I could care less about Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. While others condemned him for demeaning the office of the presidency, I always maintained that his failure to stop the 1994 Rwandan genocide was infinitely worse. What president Clinton did behind closed doors had no impact on our lives. But what he did not do to stop the Rwandan slaughter meant that for a period of three months, 330 Africans were being slaughtered every hour.
What would the world look like if Franklin Delano Roosevelt had not been president? This despite the fact that he died with his mistress in Warm Springs, Georgia, even though he had in Eleanor Roosevelt a wife universally admired.
John F. Kennedy saved the world from potential nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis, even as he humiliated the world’s most glamorous woman with repeated affairs.
When it comes to leadership, it’s not personal morality that we look for but public contribution to the world’s improvement. Hillary Clinton has promised to fund a government that hangs gays and stones women, which speaks to a general unwillingness to confront evil.
In 2010, she gave Netanyahu what’s been described as a 43-minute tongue-lashing on the issue of Israeli settlements and boasted to The Washington Post, “I was often the designated yeller” of the Obama administration against Netanyahu. Clinton wants to reward Palestinian kleptocracy and terrorism with the creation of a Palestinian state even as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas incites the murder of Jews in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Can Donald Trump change his behavior and stop the insults? Perhaps not, though if he doesn’t he is almost certain to lose the election. But Clinton’s pledge to continue to fund Iran must be even more strongly resisted.The author, whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America” is the author most recently of The Israel Warriors Handbook. Follow him on Twitter @ RabbiShmuley.
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