Saturday, March 16, 2024

Post Election, Do We Stay or Go?

As it does at many a gathering of upper middle class couples, the conversation eventually led to where it was a good place to escape to. 

Only this dialogue was not to plan an escape from winter, or a quick trip to the beach or ski slope, or a fashion fling to a spa or retail hot spot. 

No, this Friday evening shabbat dinner of matzoh ball soup, chicken marsala, smashed potatoes and root vegetables featured conversation among liberal, educated, well informed and connected Jews with a special interest as to where in the world could we find permanent safe refuge from an America unhinged by rising antisemitism and the very real possibility that Donald Trump could win the November election. 

Israel used to be the first response. Bibi has dashed that option. Equally guilty of closing that door were those who want to replace Netanyahu but whose egos have kept them from uniting behind one candidate. Israel teeters on the brink of undemocratic reform and a future even more oppressive for Palestinians under its control. 

Canada was a popular alternative. English is spoken. Heck, Toronto streets have been passed off as those of New York City in films and television shows. Toronto has a vibrant Jewish community. It’s colder, but not too cold. But there’s an undercurrent of conservatism gaining traction in Canada. A newly proposed bill could land you in prison for life for speech crimes. Jews are anything but demure when it comes to expressing their opinions. If passed, that new law would blow a very cold welcome greeting. 

Want some place warmer? Costa Rica might do. Sure there are gang and drug problems but they are small compared to other countries south of our border. 

For some, England had an attraction, though it too has been hit by rising antisemitism. France was definitely out. 

No one mentioned Australia or New Zealand. 

Reality set in. There is no safe haven. Come November, there is only an America PT—Post Trump or President Trump. 

If he wins in 2024, would he leave in 2029? Would he pull a Putin and stay in the White House for life? The tragedy, not just for Jews but for all of America, indeed for all of post World War II democratic liberal traditions here and abroad, is that half of our country is ignorant to Trump’s cancer, or so enthralled by it that they do not care.