Trump Candidacy -- The Unimaginable Becomes a Test of Seriousness

Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. Yes, Donald Trump, maverick Israel views and all. The people who told us that Barack Obama would destroy the country, stab Israel in the back, and take our guns away are now telling us to chill about Donald Trump.

Watch in his own words what Trump says he'll do if elected. I can respect those who supported Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, as much as I disagreed with their policy positions. But Trump? There has to be a line somewhere, and Trump is on the other side. This election will be a test of who we can take seriously.

David Ross Meyers and David Brooks passed the test.

The Republican Jewish Coalition and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) failed the test. 

But we cannot afford to fail the test. We need to remember who Trump really is. In the words of the Chicago Sun-Times, he is "volatile, vulgar, uninformed, unkind and unprepared." Trump's status as a major party candidate could confer on him a legitimacy that he does not deserve. But the Republican Party is not the party it once was or that some of our Republican friends, the ones we know personally, imagine that it still is. 

Steve Benen writes that what political scientists Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann wrote four years ago is even truer today: "The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

Donald Trump's ascendance is not a surprise; as Benen writes, he didn't break the Republican party. He just exploited its wreckage for his own purposes.

Who is really advising Hillary Clinton on foreign policy? Exactly who you'd expect. And that's good.

Great reading on BDS. The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel is spreading on college campuses across the United States. The pro-Israel community is united in its opposition to BDS.

Whether you lean to the right or to the left, if you want to fight BDS successfully, you must internalize this paragraph from Ari Shavit:

The [BDS] battle is a battle for the left and the fight is a fight within the left, which means that anyone who despises the left can't win it. Ninety percent of the young people I met at the universities are Democrats who support U.S. President Barack Obama. Trying to sell them the Gush Emunim agenda won't work. Only a liberal Zionist message can foment change. Only liberal Zionists can generate enthusiasm and provide inspiration. Only Israelis who believe in the two-state solution can confront those Israel-haters who believe in exactly what the right believes in - one state.

The audience we need to persuade, left-leaning college students, will not be receptive to right-wing speakers or right-wing messaging. To win the battle against BDS on campus we need to use messaging that works with left-wing students, not messaging that appeals to right-wing donors. Rabbi Sharon Brous explains how we can message successfully against BDS:

You can reframe the conversation by pointing out that you, too, support ending the Occupation, as do most Israelis and American Jews. But like many of them, you do not believe that BDS is the right strategy to achieve the outcome we're hoping for: a safe, secure and democratic Jewish state living peacefully beside a Palestinian state. You can tell them that many of us are troubled that BDS singles out Israel for a level of opprobrium as though it is the world's worst state actor and, while non-violent, acts as a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel. That many see that the threat of BDS enflames the debate, strengthens the radical right, further entrenches Israel in an isolationist narrative (the whole world is against us), and will handicap the very people who can actually help bring about a two state solution: Israeli academics, artists, activists and entrepreneurs.

Jordan Freedland writes that the left should treat Jews "the same way you'd treat any other minority. No better and no worse. If opposition to racism means anything, it surely means that." Every pro-Israel activist on every college campus should read Freedland's article. His arguments are the arguments that we need to make on campus.

Bruce Springsteen's guitarist slammed "obnoxious idiots" who support BDS. Another response to BDS, albeit in 140 characters (actually, several Tweets).

Times of Israel editor David Horowitz is a Springsteen fan, and expanding on Miami Steve's point that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is complicated, Horowitz writes that while Israel's policies "can be deeply flawed," singling out Israel for blame ignores the legitimate challenges Israel faces and the culpability of the Palestinians.

The Israel we are defending is not the imaginary Israel of Paul Newman's Exodus, and we won't succeed if we pretend that it is. Israel is a real country with real problems. Israel needs a two-state solution to remain Jewish and democratic. But BDS is not the way to get there.

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