I will forever be grateful to President Donald Trump for the unprecedented and incomparable friendship he has shown to Israel and the Jewish people. And now that America has elected a new president, I wish congratulations to Joe Biden and hope that he’ll continue in his predecessor’s footsteps in having the world’s foremost democracy always support and defend the Middle East’s only democracy.President-elect Biden’s victory speech was eloquent for its call to national unity and his quotation from the book of Ecclesiastes as this being “a time to heal.”
But how can we possibly unite America?Heal? Are you kidding? We Americans hate each other. We’re divided on every level, from blue states to red states, from liberals to conservatives, from Only-Trumpers to Never-Trumpers, from those who think Joe Biden is a good soul to those who think his best years are behind him and he’ll be coopted by the Democratic Left.So it’s time to ask whether there is anything that can unite us, aside from geography.Here are five values that I believe can bring us together and which I hope Democrats and Republicans will embrace.
1. A hatred of evil
From the beginning of the American republic, we Americans have hated tyrants. We called George III a tyrant and this was mostly for taxing our tea. Even that was too much for us. Who the hell did he think he was, living across an ocean and trying to control us? So we rebelled, kicked his redcoats out of America, and created our own nation.We call those Americans who fought Hitler “the greatest generation.” Boys from Kansas or Nebraska died and were buried in France or Luxembourg because they fought the Nazi tyranny, even though it did not directly affect them and their families.That’s even why we fought – however ineffectively – in Vietnam, because we hated the Communist tyranny and were going to stop it.It’s why, ultimately, we removed Saddam Hussein from power. Yes, we thought he had weapons of mass destruction, and yes, the war was messy and most Americans today probably question it. But the reason the war enjoyed widespread support at the time was because we Americans hate tyrants, and the tyrant Saddam Hussein killed more than one million people.Based on this, I hope that President-elect Biden will never return to the Iran nuclear deal. An agreement that gave a brutal, monstrous government that hangs gays from cranes, and stones women to death should never have been given American legitimacy, and certainly not sweetened with $150 billion. I was sorely disappointed when Kamala Harris said in her vice-presidential debate that one of the first things a Biden administration would do would be to return to the Iran deal. We Americans oppose tyrants, we don’t support them.
2. A love for communal service
I have lived in Australia, the United Kingdom and Israel. The one thing that distinguishes the United States is a passion for giving. We are the most charitable nation on Earth. Yet our youth are becoming more self-centered and narcissistic, told that they should live to share their every moment on social media and work day and night in school in order to get into a great university and thereby obtain a well-paying job.That’s great. But where is the service? I fervently hope that the next American administration will institute a year of national service for all high school graduates as a gap year. We should emulate Israel in this regard. Not all Israelis go to the army. Many do Sherut Leumi. American youth should be asked to give a year of their lives to, for example, working in hospitals, homeless shelters, charities, libraries and homes for the aged.
3. A love of family
America revolves around beautiful national holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we travel from every corner of the nation to be with our loved ones. But two days a year are not enough. It is time to institute a national weekly family dinner program for all Americans. I believe that we in the Jewish community should spearhead a national Friday night dinner campaign, in which all families are asked to turn off the TVs, laptops and cellphones for two hours and focus on our children and loved ones. We should have our children – once the coronavirus has passed – invite two guests so that we inculcate within our offspring an appreciation for hospitality, making the American home into the tent of Abraham.
4. A love of learning
America is the most prosperous nation on Earth, and this is mostly due to American industriousness and innovation. But both of these traits are predicated on a mastery of information. We take learning and ideas and transform them into companies and industries. American science put a man on the Moon, invented the Internet, and mapped the human genome. But now, that flow of information is being corrupted by politics. We don’t even know what is true when we read the news. If it comes from CNN, it has a liberal slant; from Fox, a conservative one. Universities are embracing a cancel culture in which the “wrong” ideas are slowly being muted. I fear we won’t be a creative as we once were. And we’re also not reading as much as we did, and when we do read, it’s so often the political books that disproportionately populate The New York Times’ bestseller lists. Add to that the terrible disruptions to schooling that have come with the coronavirus pandemic, and what emerges is a true crisis in education. The solution is a renewed respect for learning. We need to promote public intellectuals again, making philosophers, historians and scientists into national celebrities. We have to elevate the public discourse, making it one of ideas and not just opinions, intelligent insights and not just partisan political babble. Our national soul depends on it.
5. A love for God and religion
No country on Earth is as religious as the United States. Even countries that purport to be religious – such as Iran, ruled by fraudulent mullahs – nearly always leverage God and religion for political purposes. And while this also happens in America, the average US citizen has a natural spiritual disposition. It’s expected that every public speech will end with the words “God bless America,” and public holidays like Thanksgiving have a spiritual dimension of Divine gratitude. No Western country save America has “God” printed on its money. We have to nurture this innate American spiritual disposition by cultivating it and not fearing it. A moment of silence should be instituted as part of the curriculum of every American school, allowing students to reflect daily on a higher cause of their choosing. We need to affirm more spiritual values in American life that transcend the traditional religious debates on abortion, gay marriage and contraception. There is more to American religion than the social-sexual values that have come to define American spirituality. A new emphasis on charity, national prayer, synagogue and church attendance, or civic conferences for agnostics, will return us to a time when we didn’t only seek a vaccine for pandemics like the coronavirus, but also turned our eyes heavenward, seeking Divine grace and national redemption.