I voted for Hillary Clinton, as did almost everyone I know. I was speechless on election eve as my world fell apart, my understanding of the universe and the certain path history was to follow unraveled before my eyes. Yet, though I did my duty and voted for Clinton, I’m feeling Guilty, with a capital G. Guilty that I know Trump will be better for Israel than Clinton would have ever been. Guilty that I see any silver lining in the coming storm cloud of the Trump Presidency. Guilty that I was willing to put my personal feeling and disdain for one candidate above the long-term safety of Israelis. Guilty that I’m wishing Trump well.
I’m not alone. The recent shameful vote in the UN allowed by Samantha Power and President Obama was a hurtful event for Israel, and by extension for all Jewry. American Jews recognize the gravity of the betrayal, at both a practical level (it will be harder for Israel to negotiate peace with a weaker hand), and a philosophical level (if the largely Christian US won’t support Israel, what hope is there?). The backlash against the action (or inaction, as it was), has been widespread. While the Obama administration clearly anticipated some admonishment from Netanyahu, I think they are surprised at the loud disapproval they are hearing from both sides of the aisle in the United States. The noise won’t quiet down; it promises to get louder and leave a sour note on a Presidential legacy that has generally been positive.
Many of my friends and colleagues emigrated from Russia to the US as refugees, thanks in part to efforts from George Schultz and the Reagan and Bush Administrations. While most voted for Hillary Clinton, there is a stream of support for Trump among these largely Jewish citizens in the US that surprises me. I call these friends the Practo-Jews, which is my vernacular for Russian Jews who are more pragmatic, less theoretical. One such friend of mine called today, to wish me “S Novim Godom!” (Russian for Happy New Year). He is one of the Practo-Jews, a group with which I am not philosophically aligned but which I respect nonetheless. He asked me if I was “over” the election yet. I bit my tongue, and told him yes. Perhaps if I say it enough times, I’ll forget I don’t actually mean it.
Of course, I’m still surprised that such a large part of American voters opted to vote for someone who has said such spiteful things over the past year. Trump’s Twitter rants still make me cringe, and I wonder if he will appear more stable once he takes the oath. For the sake of America, for the sake of Israel, for the sake of the West, I hope so.