Weisman posits that the American Jewish obsession with Israel has taken our eyes off not only the politics of our own country, the growing gulf between rich and poor, and the rising tide of nationalism but also our own grounding in faith.  As one rabbi told me, Jewish life should grow out of belief, faith, and history, not today's New York ties.  We have grown reactive, responding to events or provocations rather than pursuing a spiritually driven mission to do as the Torah tell us: Welcome the stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.

Jews have grown so obsessed with Israel that the overt and covert signals of anti-Semitism beam from the interior of the Trump campaign appeared to be disregard by people like Adelson and Bernie Marcus, the Home Depot co-founder and Republican mega-donor who seemed wowed by candidate Trump's solemn promise to immediately move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to back Likud's expansive settlement policy on the West Bank.  Never mind that both moves were purely symbolic: Netanyahu was going to do what he was going to do regardless of Washington's feckless policies or the location of its ambassador.  What mattered was Israel, pure and simple.

Dr. Steve Wruble backs up Weisman assertion in "Trump's Daddy Issues: A Toxic Mix for America," from The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (2017).  Dr. Wruble writes that as a psychiatrist, I am interested in why people are the way they are.  Ultimately, the more I understand others, and my relationship to them, the better I understand myself.  I am intrigued by the factors that have guided Donald Trump into the Oval Office and into the hearts, minds, and clenched fists of so many Americans.  I'm especially frustrated by his having captured the attention and respect of the man I have always craved a closer relationship with--my father.

Fathers and sons have a storied history of playing off each other as they grapple with their evolving separate and shared identities.

Politically, many people in America are single-issue voters.  Whether it be abortion, the economy, or foreign policy, it's that one main issue that holds sway over their vote.  In my family's case, that one issue is Israel.  I come from a family of Modern orthodox Jews, and Orthodox Jewry as a group has thrown its support behind president Trump because it feels Israel will be safer under his watch.  Of course, other issues are also important to Orthodox Jews, but these are usually overshadowed by concern for Israel.

About ten years ago, I made the difficult decision to let my family know that I had stopped following the many dictates that an orthodox Jew is expected to follow.  The new choice was quite freeing for me, since I had already been living this way secretly for a few years.  At the same time, it was upsetting to my parents and especially my father, because Judaism is a major part of his identity.  He said he was worried that this would create chaos in our family and wished for my children's sake, that I would keep my secret to myself.  On a deeper level, it felt as if he perceived as a threat to his leadership in the family.

My decision to leave Orthodox Judaism feels connected to evolution of my political views toward a more liberal agenda.  This, at first, was uncomfortable because it was frowned upon in my community to question anything that supported the State of Israel.  Donald Trump's behavior was clear and disturbing to me and overshadowed his support for Israel.  However, my misgivings were not echoed in my community.  My attempts to be understood by family and friends were surprisingly difficult.

Many Republicans seem to be locked in a dysfunctional relationship with Trump as a strong father figure who appears to have are less to offer than they're pining for.   Yet, like myself, they are looking to their "father" in the hope that he will deliver them from what feels broken within them and the lives they are leading.


Several details that seem to shine a light on how Trumps relationship with his father, Fred Trump, may have impacted his development.  Fred, an overbearing father seem to have driven his eldest son, Freddie Jr, to "suicide" at age forty-three, leaving Donald to fill the void.  Obviously, he was successful at this in his father's real estate, and the two spent many years working together until Donald moved on to conquer Manhattan.

Donald witnessed his father's tough negotiating style, even at home.  Fred Trump's housing project made him wealthy and powerful.  Some tenants appreciated him for his solid, well-priced apartments; others loathed him for his suspected exclusion of blacks from his properties.

Unlike Trump, I was fortunate to watch my father come home daily from saving lives as a physician.  I can only imagine how ashamed I would have felt if my father had been accused of being racist.  That being said, Donald may not have given it a second thought.

As I observe President Trump's behavior, I imagine that there is a good chance he identifies with his father's aggressive business style and parenting, and now employing that orientation to his role as president.  In psychology, this is called identification with the aggressor.  At first, it may appear counter-intuitive to identify with an aggressor who has abused his position of power to take advantage.  However, our brains often use this early relationship as a template to shape our future behavior.  We are attracted to the power we witness from our powerless position.  We can be hungry for the same power that we originally resented or even fought against.  Taking all this into consideration, President Trump's aggressive behavior seems to illuminate the part of his father that still lives on within him.

In simplified fashion, in order for Trump to avoid feeling the effects of his insecurities, and to feed is narcissistic needs, he appears to compensate by trying to be seen as powerful and special with the hope that he will indeed feel powerful and special.  Only he know the truth about how successful he is at this.

Trump has difficult transferring his business strategies and expectations to the culture of government has been frustrating for him, and his responses that frustration have been eye-opening.  He doesn't appear to have the flexibility to switch gears in order to deal with the function of his job as president.  His handling of FBI director James Comey is a good example.  Conversations about loyalty appear to have contributed to his firing.  Trump’s befuddlement regarding all the fireworks that ensured makes it appear that he is either limited in understanding the impact of his behavior or insensitive to it.  Either way, his leadership leaves a large segment of the population feeling insecure and fearful about what to expect next.

Trump Blasts 'Total Witch Hunt' After FBI Raids His Longtime Attorney's Office



Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with then-President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016.

Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

President Trump unloaded on both Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, hours after federal agents raided the office of Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

"It's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch hunt," Trump said on Monday. "When I saw this, when I heard about it, that is a whole new level of unfairness."

It was not immediately clear why investigators targeted Cohen, but Cohen's lawyer said the raids followed a referral from Mueller. The New York Times, which first reported the raid, said that it does not appear as though the Cohen search was directly linked to the Russia investigation.

The Times and the Washington Post reported Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud.

Nonetheless, a visibly agitated Trump, speaking to reporters before he met with military and national security officials about the ongoing situation in Syria, put blame on Mueller and Sessions.

Trump called Mueller's team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and any potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, "the most biased group of people."

"These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I have ever seen. Democrats — all. Either Democrats or a couple of Republicans who worked for President Obama," Trump said. Mueller is a Republican, and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York was appointed in January

As to whether he would fire Mueller, Trump gave his frequently used "we'll see what happens" response, reiterating that he believed that the investigation was "a pure and simple witch hunt" that should have been wrapped up long ago.

"Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," Trump said.

The president went on to attack Sessions — his own appointee — for recusing himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017. The recusal put Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge of the probe, and he appointed Mueller in May.

"The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when [he] recused himself or he certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have put a different attorney general in," Trump said. "So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country. But you'll figure that out."

Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan argued the FBI had overstepped its bounds in seizing "privileged communications" between Cohen and his clients.

"The decision by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary," Ryan said in a statement.

He continued: "It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath."

Michael Moore, a former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, told NPR that for investigators, "the possibility of evidence destruction is likely at the forefront of their concern."

"Remember that they are also gathering evidence and testimony from other sources, so they may already be in possession of corroborating evidence," Moore said. "That's what makes this move in the investigation so interesting. For example, there is a reason that search warrants were issued for the particular locations."

The FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the special counsel's office declined to comment on the search.

Cohen has worked for Trump for many years and is closely tied in with many of his business and personal matters.

For example, Cohen has admitted he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 just weeks before the 2016 election. Daniels called that part of a concerted effort to stop her from going public about what she says was a 2006 tryst with Trump.

The president denies any liaison with Daniels and denies he knew about the payment. Trump told reporters on Air Force One recently to ask Cohen about it.

The president also said he didn't know where Cohen got the $130,000 to give to Daniels. Cohen has said he used his own "personal funds."

Cohen also was the point of contact between the Trump Organization and government officials in Russia at a time when Trump wanted to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen acknowledged sending an email to Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal spokesman to ask about starting discussions about a major new real estate project in the Russian capital — discussions that Cohen said never got underway.

Fred Trump's competitiveness was quite apparent near the end of his life, when he was quoted as saying that his thrice-divorced son would never beat him in the "marital department," since he had been married to the same women for sixty years.  In addition, when Donald Trump was asked in 2016 what his father would have said about him running for president, he said, "He would have absolutely allowed me to have done it."  Allowed?? Despite being seventy-year-old, Trump answered as if he were an adolescent in the oedipal battle with his father who had died seventeen year earlier.

In August of 2016, I was speaking with my father on the phone about the presidential election, and he was addressing his confusion to why trump was acting so erratically.  As I proceeded to describe my hypothesis of what was happening with trump, I confidently and proudly told my father that I believed that trump was unconsciously sabotaging his chances of winning the election because a part of him probably recognized he wasn't worthy and/or capable of being successful in that position.  I went on the say that trump appeared to be more comfortable complaining about and fighting against, the system that he believed was conspiring against his bid to be elected.  In response, my father said, "Well, whatever's going on, I wish he would just shut up because if Hillary wins, it’ll be horrible for Israel."  Despite giving my father what I felt was my intellectual gold, he only commented on what was important to him.

Since Trump has taken office, I have tried to engage my father, and others within my family and in the Orthodox Jewish community, about my concerns with Trump's exaggerations and lying, along with his xenophobia, all of which appear to be playing on the fears and insecurities of the support base.  Almost invariably I hear, "Yeah, he's a little crazy, but he'll be better than Obama ever was," or something like, "Don't be such a bad sport.  You guys lost; deal with it!"  And when people were protesting peacefully around the country, I would hear, "when Obama won, we never acted this way."  When I explained that it's a wonderful thing that we live in a place where we have the right to protest, my words usually fell on deaf ears.  I couldn’t believe that trump's behavior was being down-played.  By questioning it, I was automatically labeled by some as having drunk the liberal Kool-Aid.  Some inferred that I must believe that Israel wasn't without sin in its fight to live in peace with the Palestinians.  Others accused me of wanting a socialist state.  It became clear that, in parts of my family and within the wider community of Orthodox Jews, there was an "us-versus-them" mentality.  It’s frustrating to be told that my thoughts and clinical ideas about unfolding events are really just politically motivated.


Weisman posits that the hatred of government that spawned the militia movement in the 1990s sparked the vigilante Minutemen a few year later and then the Tea Party, the Freedom caucus, and the alt-right.  And now there is Donald Trump. “Donald Trump's rise in popularity and eventual victory during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign causally increased individuals' perception of the social acceptability of holding strong anti-immigration (or xenophobic) views and their willingness to publicly express them." 

In other words, a social genie can escape its bottle fast, and that genie can't be shoved back in.  Societies can change for the worse, and we are not destined for inexorable progress.  I am always reluctant to say this, but here it can't be avoided: witness Germany 1933.

Weisman venture to say that all the accouterments of Judaism have not lifted the spirituality of my coreligionists a bit.  We are in a golden age of going through the motions, but we have made no real progress in grounding the People of Israel in a moral purpose.  Our return to religiosity is tactical, borne of a desire to connect a wandering Jewish people to the synagogue and to identity.  But while it has given many Jews an aura of authenticity, it has not enriched our theology.

The early efforts by the anti-Deformation League into the alt-right arena are already showing promise, if the squealing is any indication.  In the summer of 2016 the ADL posted an online glide to the alt-right/alt-lite--a relatively innocuous list of the main figures in the movement with thumbnail biographies and sketches of actions they had taken.  The unhinged response was as regulatory as it was hilarious.  Mike Cernovich was one of the leaders of the Gamergate swarm [that had terrorized gamer Zoe Quinn] who made his name as an online misogynist bully and then remade himself into a "journalist" for the Trump era.  He ranted, "The ADL has targeted me for murder and assassination.  Today they released a hate list identifying me as some kind of purveyor of hate or something like that."

Carrying that response further would take a re-calibration a conscious move away from the Israel obsession of the largest Jewish institutions and a recognition that tribalism is leading Jewry into a box canyon crowded with some unsavory characters from the ethno-nationalist movement.  That old Left bumper sticker pretty much had it right: think globally, act locally.  The Trump campaign was also right: We are the globalists.  Embrace it.

Views: 125

Comment by mary gravitt on April 10, 2018 at 12:13pm

Americans anyone?  Now is the time when the rubber hits the road: E pluribus urum or each in his own tribe?  I am an American.  I can be nothing else because the United States is the only home I know.  If you think that you are not an American, go outside the country and you will see that you have American habits.  And even if you live in another country, the natives know that you are a Foreigner, even in Israel an American Jew is a foreigner.  And in Africa, a Black American is a foreigner. 

Comment by koshersalaami on April 10, 2018 at 12:32pm

Of course an American is a foreigner in Israel, even if some can in theory become Israeli pretty quickly.

The modern Orthodox who think in these terms are nuts. Do they really think that Hillary would have interfered with Israel’s ability to defend itself? That she wouldn’t is as obvious to me as it is to Amy. She might not go along with everything Netanyahu wants, but that would only have made her a better President. 

That the far right Jewish donors are ignoring the antisemitism they’re supporting is absolutely true. And that is seriously stupid. 

Comment by koshersalaami on April 11, 2018 at 9:38pm

Most of us did not support Trump. I knew that already, but I just looked it up for more detail. Quite interesting. This is from Haaretz.

Hillary even beat Trump among the Orthodox. The overall Jewish totals were 70% for Clinton, 25% for Trump (the rest for other candidates). “Not all of them supported Trump” turns out to be a bit of an understatement. 

The rest of the article talks about Jewish opinions about Israel. 

53% of American Jews support the US Government pressuring Israel to make compromises for peace. 
78% of us are against Settlement expansion.
81% of us support the two-state solution. 

Comment by marilyn sands on April 11, 2018 at 10:00pm

You covered the gamut - lots to chew on.  And, you are right...when you're in another country - you do feel American.

Comment by moki ikom on April 12, 2018 at 12:06am

"Some inferred that I must believe that Israel wasn't without sin in its fight to live in peace with the Palestinians."

That's a good one Mary: killing, maiming, imprisoning Palestinans, destroying Palestinian farmlands, homes, neighborhoods, terrorizing Palestinians  365/24/7 from the skies, on the sea, inside their homes, at checkpoints ... "fighting to live in peace with Palestinians"?

Comment by mary gravitt on April 12, 2018 at 11:41am

A scary thing has happen in Iowa City.  After I made my post, I went home and heard on IPR/NPR--WSUI that some persons had been handing out Anti-Semitic flyers in certain neighborhoods of the City.  The Chief of Police said to notify the police because even it this is a "free speech" issue, it still might be evidence of a hate crime.

Iowa City is the most liberal city in Iowa.  At one time our gay population was almost equal to San Francisco's, and still may be.  The riches man is town is gay and lives with his lover in the penthouse of one of the towers he has built.  We have a realitively low crime rate, and yes, there is a certain amount of racism towards blacks who have moved here from Chicago.  But this is mainly do to the "cultural shock" of an under-class moving into a basically middle-class environment.  Anti-Semitism has never been an issue here.  But now the KKK seems to have been re-energized by Trump.

Comment by moki ikom on April 13, 2018 at 11:58am

I call false flag of the "Anti-Semitic flyers" .  Under the banner of free speech amendment a group like kkk or similar militantly xenophobic tribe could just give some willing homeless or otherwise desperate soul some cash,, like "Here's a hundred bucks if you will distribute these thirty handbills starting over there."  I don't think the individuals distributing such propaganda within the public domain should or could be duly arrested for such activity but i see nothing wrong with law enforcement/peace officers detaining on site for the purposes of identifying a reported or otherwise observed individual whose behavior eg, "handing out"  material toward someone who didn't ask for it, intruding uninvitedly into somesome else space and comfort zone, unconcerned about or intentionally desiring to be offensive.

Comment by J.P. Hart on April 13, 2018 at 12:10pm

i'D PROLLY (ring finger on dat one) oughta been more cawsuch growin' up and at 'em swiped my lips too quicklee gettin' butane from my backhand onna orfice (jolts. swallows)afta filling my butane from (name withheld) due to o so many Johnny Carson re-runs of Who Do You Trust.

Hart thought rollin' flem roundest his mout. A tick flem reserved for oodoors.

O one of those guys!!?? she said shrilly. Pounding her beautiful pianist hands on the lunch table.

Mary Gravitt, hon,

Are you really Carol Wentland?

Comment by J.P. Hart on April 13, 2018 at 12:11pm


should the Our Salon 'like' tab be relabeled 'love'


Comment by mary gravitt on April 17, 2018 at 1:22pm

Those handing out flyers were not getting paid to do so.  The poor and homeless here in Iowa City are liberal and they know that IC is the best place for the poor and homeless.  It is impossible to starve to death in IC unless you want to.  We have an excellent Free Clinic that even supplies medicine.  In other words IC is liberalism on steriods.  But this is not true for the rest of the state.  We also have Steve King and his Dutch Farmers in the 4th District.


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