October 22, 2018

Trump’s in the Torah

You learn a great deal at your average Shabbat dinner, not just about the family and the latest goings on in everyone’s lives, but also about God, religion, science and economics.

These days, if you like your relatives and wish to stay related to them, you avoid talking politics except to say, “Yes, ma’am, I know I should be ashamed of myself for voting for crazy, corrupt Hillary and before her, Muslim-spy-intent-on-destroying-this-country Obama. I understand that Trump is going to save America and you and me with it. I’m glad you already feel safer, richer and more powerful.”

You learn that every news article in The New York Times and The Washington Post is “fake,” and that renowned, anti-Trump, conservative columnists like David Brooks and George F. Will are “desperate liberals.” You also learn, as I did last Friday night, that Donald J. Trump’s name appears several times in the Torah.

This latest gem of knowledge, you’re told, has been unearthed by scholars of the Old Testament for some time, and now is available at your neighborhood Orthodox shul. It may not be readily visible to the average person reading the Torah, but it’s clear as day to the experts, like Tom Hanks in “The Da Vinci Code,” who can detect and interpret signs and patterns and secret codes buried in the text.

You learn all this and if you want people to like you, or at least not dislike you very much, you throw your hands up and say, I sure hope you’re right.

I realize there were Trump voters in this country who kept their intentions to themselves until they went into the voting booth, but I assure you they weren’t Iranian Jews. Among our kind, it’s the Democrats who keep a low profile, get laughed at or vilified for their beliefs, get shouted at, lectured to, accused of taking money from liberal groups to spread misinformation about one candidate or another. As far as I can tell, somewhere around 60 percent of Iranian-American Jews and at least 30 percent of Iranian-Americans of Muslim background are Trump supporters. The Jews like his support of Israel, the Muslims like his opposition to the regime in Iran.

Well, who am I to say if these people are right or wrong? I have my opinion and they have theirs. I’m always wary of candidates who promise a great deal, and I’m quick to see and point out shortcomings in candidates I voted for. I’d be an imbecile to want to change anyone’s mind or to think that’s actually possible in today’s political climate. But if I were foolhardy enough to try to engage my Trumpist countrymen, and stupid enough to expect a civil response, I would really, truly, sincerely want to know how they explain the distance between what they advocate for the rest of the world and what they want for themselves.

Iranian hawks on Israel, for example, will tell you that peace with the Arabs is impossible, but they wouldn’t be caught dead letting a single one of their children serve in the Israeli army, much less fight in a war. I’m talking about those Iranian Jews who came to the United States instead of settling in Israel, or who settled in Israel until their children were of military service age, then quickly moved to the States.

Iranian hawks on Iran — Iranians of Muslim heritage — can’t wait to send American troops to the region, but only because we don’t have a draft.

They have no problem with a president who will appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court, couldn’t care less whether Roe v. Wade is overturned, but most of them wouldn’t hesitate to get an abortion. They say they’re not racist; they just happen to know that a woman who looks like Michelle Obama should not be allowed in the White House. They vote against LGBT rights until one of their own comes out. They say Barack Obama was a traitor because his middle name was Hussein and that he bowed to the Saudi king, but they don’t mind at all Trump’s cozy relationship with Putin.

They, who immigrated to this country less than four decades ago, truly believe that banning refugees who have been vetted for 36 months before being allowed into the country is morally and strategically sound. They, the majority of whom stayed in this country illegally — after their tourist or student visas ran out — and operated under the radar for years until they were able to gain political refugee status, who have put to excellent use the cheap labor provided by undocumented  men and women from south of the border, who have made fortunes from manufacturing goods in Asia or South America or selling stuff to Mexico, will tell you without irony that all illegals should be deported and all economic borders should be protected. That anyone who breaks the law by staying in the United States without permission must be sent back.

I would like to know how they rationalize these contradictions, and I’d love to know which genius code breaker detected Trump’s name in the Torah, but I’ve already made myself unpopular enough with my people, so I let it rest.

GINA NAHAI’s most recent novel is “The Luminous Heart of Jonah S”