by Seth Lipsky
‘Eternal God, we thank you for this blessed nation that for 240 years has translated into reality the biblical command to ‘proclaim liberty throughout the land for all the inhabitants thereof.’ We thank you for our constitutional government that has created and fostered the American ideals of democracy, freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of race, religion or national origin.”
Those are the opening words of an invocation that was to have been offered at the Republican National Convention by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein. One of America’s most respected Jewish leaders, he’s rabbi emeritus of New York’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.
Word that Lookstein would speak at a convention honoring Donald Trump, prompted three petitions on the Web site , and he withdrew from offering a prayer in Cleveland. declared victory. No doubt his invocation would’ve been too much for liberals.
It strikes me as newsworthy. When else has a major religious leader been driven from offering an invocation at a national political convention because of the views of the candidate being nominated?
Lookstein had been invited to offer the prayer in Cleveland by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. He had supervised her conversion to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew.
The victory over Lookstein is a tragedy not only for them but for many thousands of Jews who regard him as one of our most learned Modern Orthodox leaders. It’s an intervention by illiberal liberals.
All the more so because Lookstein isn’t political. He backed out, he told his congregation, precisely because “the whole matter turned from rabbinic to political, something which was never intended.”
Trump himself ought to confront the liberalism of the left. The petitions focused on the well-worn charges against Trump — his comments about Muslim and Mexican immigration, his shrugging off supporters hostile to Jews.
One of the petitions accused Trump of using a dog whistle. What about Democrats? To what kind of animal was the senior Obama administration official whistling when he told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit”?
Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative sage who has one of the thickest hides in all of newspaperdom and whom I called yesterday, recommends the strategy of tu quoque: Latin for “you, also.”
To what dog is Obama whistling when he talks about Iran’s supreme leader as both anti-Semitic and rational about the need to keep his economy afloat?
Where was Hillary Clinton when her party, at its 2012 convention, was asked to restore Jerusalem and God to the Democratic platform? On live TV, Democratic delegates gave a rousing “nay” vote and had to be overruled by the chair. What an emblematic moment for Clinton’s party. “Say what you will about Trump, she’s worse,” says Norman Podhoretz.
He, like me, finds it hard to forgive Clinton’s support for the articles of appeasement Obama agreed to with Iran. Those negotiations were conducted by the so-called P5+1, meaning the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
Why Germany for the +1? Why not Israel, the potential target of the Iranian bomb? Trump is now leading the fight against the Iran appeasement, which was opposed by both Benjamin Netanyahu and his left-of-center opposition.
Trump’s also the candidate siding with religious Americans whose rights are in jeopardy from the proliferating series of laws and court rulings in which religious persons are being asked to bow to a liberalism hostile to religious law.
The cases involve birth control, same-sex marriage, transgender issues. They’re being pressed by religious Americans wanting not to impose their religion on liberals but to conduct their own lives in accordance with their faith.
Why is the presumptive Democratic nominee not standing for their rights, too? It’s not just the Jews, though many Orthodox certainly feel embattled. It’s also religious Christians (and, for that matter, religious Muslims).
Lookstein had planned to conclude his prayer with a plea to God to “help us to form a government which will protect us with sound strategy and steady strength; which will unite us with words of wisdom and acts of compassion.”
It’s a good moment for Trump to say “Amen.”