Three weeks ago, Israel lost the last of its Founding Fathers. The last of a generation to make the desert bloom out of nothing, to bring Israel into the community of nations.
From the time he served in the Ministry of Defense, creating and mending strategic alliances for the State of Israel, Shimon Peres conducted business with a sense of decorum, honor and dignity, even though he was just 29 years old when he was honored with that position.
His supporters and opponents alike would describe Peres with respect, and Peres gave respect he gave to all of his adversaries. For American Jews, we could be so proud of not just what he did — the raid at Entebbe, of course, ranks as one of his greatest successes —but who he was: a leader worthy of the titles he earned. As Israel’s ninth president, he traveled throughout the world, representing Israel in the same dignified manner that he did as its prime minister.
In a couple of weeks, American Jews have a choice to make: electing a president that will be representing us throughout the world. Which of the two candidates can we be proud of?
- Can we be proud of a man running for president who refers to women as fat, pigs, dogs and ugly?
- Can we be proud of the same man who, at the age of 59, feels the need to brag about groping a married woman?
- Can we be proud of someone who would ask our soldiers to commit war crimes, punishing children for the alleged sins of their parents without trial? Or are we a nation that accepts the agreements that came after the destruction of World War II?
- Can we be proud of a man who aligns himself with Vladimir Putin? Or do we want an America that extends its hands to our allies in NATO, Australia and Israel?
- Can we be proud of a man who, even before the Republican Jewish Coalition, dabbles in offensive, anti-Semitic stereotypes? Who is endorsed by anti-Semites and racists like David Duke? Or do we want a president who celebrates our diversity, including the importance of the Jewish community?
- Can we be proud of a man who cannot help but argue with a war hero, a Gold Star family, a beauty pageant contestant and veterans battling PTSD in disturbing, undignified fashion?
- Can we be proud of a man who believes it is right to attack a wife for the sins of her husband?
- Can we be proud of a man that claims to hire “only the best people,” but instead hires a serial sexual harasser, a publisher of a website known for anti-Semitism and a pro-Russian consultant who used to work for Putin’s stooge in Ukraine?
- Can we be proud of a man whose responses to powerful women are to blame their problems on menstruation?
- Could we take pride in a president who believes that all Muslims, whether they come from Bosnia or Indonesia, should be banned from immigrating to America? Or do we want a president who would accept those like our parents and grandparents, who fled persecution and mass murder?
- Can we be proud of a man whose response to his political opponents is to threaten to jail them? Or do we, like most Americans, respect our ability to disagree and settle political disputes at the ballot box?
- Can we be proud of a man who claims that people of certain ethnicities are rapists and murders?
- Can we be proud of a man who thinks preparing to becoming president involves not reading policy papers or learning about issues, but watching cable news?
Or would America be better with a president who is perhaps one of the most prepared candidates ever, spending decades understanding policy and listening to different viewpoints on issues?
At Peres’ funeral, President Barack Obama told the mourners that one of Peres’ favorite sayings is that “the message of the Jewish people to mankind is that faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity.”
Indeed, one of the most important parts of being president is having that faith and moral vision. From her time as an attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund, to creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides more than 9 million American children with insurance, to standing up for the rights of women at a U.N. conference in Beijing, to her role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Hillary Clinton has possessed that faith and moral vision.
Her priorities: updating Obamacare, ensuring the right to vote for all and protecting the right to marry who you love. Donald Trump would roll back the progress of the last eight years while pushing some Americans back into the shadows.
On Nov. 8, American Jews who desire a president who represents our country with dignity and honor have one option: Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Jordan Acker is an attorney and director of business development at Southfield-based Goodman Acker. He previously worked in the Department of Homeland Security, appointed by President Obama.