In an interview on Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked if President Trump was sent “like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace.” It was a well-timed question, posed in Jerusalem while Jews were commemorating that very salvation — on Purim, the holiday established as described in the Book of Esther. Mr. Pompeo gave a neutral answer: “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible.”
Comparisons of political figures to Biblical ones should hardly be foreign to the media. Barack Obama’s 2008 “victory speech” upon clinching the Democratic Nomination offered a truly messianic vision: Not merely “care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless,” but “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation.” Obama then delivered his formal acceptance speech against a backdrop of Greek columns and entablatures, casting himself as a modern-day Oracle. Major networks, of course, reported upon these events with breathless excitement and manifest credulity.
Pompeo could only have indicated he knew God’s thoughts had he denied, not accepted, the possibility of divine intervention. But CBN itself inverted the dialogue, with a headline implying that it was Pompeo who offered the suggestion, rather than accepting that it is possible. Others reported in a similar vein, and The Washington Post even invited others to criticize Pompeo for the suggestion he never made. Apparently only a secular messiah is acceptable, while believing in actual Divinity makes one the target of ridicule.
So let me state at the outset that while I do believe that everything is in God’s hands, I cannot claim to know His thoughts: I do not know why He sent Donald Trump to be our president. And while God has not (yet) told me this explicitly, I am also reasonably certain that the president is not, any more than was Mr. Obama, the Messiah. What I can say, though, is that President Trump is following a Biblical model of leadership.
The Jewish community is now celebrating the week of Passover, commemorating our freedom from slavery in Egypt. It concludes on the anniversary of the parting of the Sea of Reeds, when the liberated Jews walked through on dry ground while their Egyptian pursuers drowned behind them.
There is a fascinating Midrash about this event. The Bible tells us that God commanded Moses to stretch out his staff over the sea, and it would split. The Midrash adds that Moses obeyed the command…and nothing happened.
At that point, Nahshon ben Amminadab stepped forward. Nahshon was the head of the tribe of Judah, from which the kings of Israel would later descend. He was a leader among leaders. And he understood that progressing through the sea was the right thing to do. So, ignoring the fearful naysayers around him, he walked into the water.
He waded in, further and deeper. Only once the sea reached his nose, when he was sure to aspirate water with his next breath, did the water begin to divide. The sea parted because we had a leader who did what he knew to be right, rather than what others told him was possible.
For 70 years, world leaders told us that what was both right and routine in every country was not possible for Israel. To place a foreign embassy in Israel’s capital, they said, would cause a war. Congress enacted the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, insisting that the U.S. embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem — and for over 20 years, one president after the next signed a waiver every six months claiming that national security interests made this impossible.
But President Trump knew that moving the embassy was the right thing to do, and he ignored the naysayers around him. Leftists in Congress and the media confidently predicted that the Middle East would erupt in conflict. Instead, other countries have since announced that they will be following his lead.
The president defunded the horribly misnamed U.N. Relief Works Agency, with its far-too-friendly ties to the Hamas jihadist organization that governs the Gaza Strip. He closed the PLO’s Washington mission, and defunded the Palestinian Authority (PA) itself while funds continued to flow to Hamas and PA chieftain Mahmoud Abbas refused to cease paying generous stipends to the families of murderers. More recently, of course, Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. And after pulling out of the miserable Iran nuclear deal, he ratcheted up sanctions this week to fully dry up yet another source of terrorist funding.
Again and again, the president did what he knew to be right, and the disastrous consequences others predicted failed to materialize. On the contrary — Arab leaders are both promoting trade with Israel as never before, and placing “immense pressure” upon the PA to respond positively to the president’s upcoming peace plan.
Furthermore, the president’s “do right” attitude is not limited to the Middle East. The president indicated that he would not be bullied by dictators, mocking North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un as “little Rocket Man” and reminding him that the U.S. nuclear button actually works. Kim — like many on the Left — called Trump “mentally deranged” and said he was going to “pay dearly.” Instead, the two soon began talks to pursue North Korean denuclearization.
As for Russia, suffice it to say that if President Putin truly hired a team of hackers to help President Trump win in 2016, this has proven to be a remarkably bad investment.
Speaking of bad investments, Alexandria “Green New Deal” Ocasio-Cortez now says that Obama failed so abysmally at stopping the ocean’s rise that we have but twelve years left to save the planet. Meanwhile, the man Obama claimed would need a “magic wand” to realize his economic promises has not only fulfilled them, but has produced magical results in foreign policy as well — simply by doing what he knew to be right, rather than what the chattering classes deemed possible. Nahshon would be proud.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values.