“We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1,000 percent. It will be there forever.” – Donald Trump, February 2014
Republicans regularly accuse President Obama of acting like an autocrat – albeit a very weak autocrat – through use of executive orders. It is interesting then that would-be President Trump has announced that Jerusalem is effectively Israel’s capital. It was reported Tuesday in The Brody File that Trump said, “They want it in Jerusalem,” and of course, Trump’s word is law, so it followed, “Well I am for that 100 percent. We are for that 100 percent.”
The situation is not as straightforward as Trump wishes. Yes, Israel named Jerusalem its capital in 1950, but most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. Israel may have its Knesset and government buildings in Jerusalem, but the UN does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (General Assembly Resolution 63/30, 2009) despite 1980’s Jerusalem Law passed by the Knesset and declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital.
The Jerusalem Post reminds us,
Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver, citing the national security interests of the United States.
The key point here is the United States does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, whatever wishful thinking might be employed by Trump and other Republicans.
Certainly no waiver will be forthcoming if Trump is in the White House. It won’t just be the embassy either: in Trump’s worldview (at least for the moment) Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel and therefore, in effect, it will be. In December he refused to commit to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Yet he told Brody,
“I will be very good to Israel. People know that. I have so many friends from Israel. I have won so many awards from Israel. I was even the grand marshal for the Israeli Day Parade a few years ago. So I will back Israel.”
Watch courtesy of CBN:
Asked by Brody why he is such a “staunch defender of Israel” Trump brought up the Iran nuclear deal:
“Well, I just see what is happening and I am so saddened by this Iran deal. It’s one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen under any circumstances, any deal, not just deals between nations. I think it’s a tremendous liability to Israel. I think it’s going to actually lead to nuclear proliferation and it’s going to cause a lot of problems. I will be very good to Israel. People know that. I have so many friends from Israel. I have won so many awards from Israel. I was even the grand marshal for the Israeli Day Parade a few years ago. So I will back Israel. We have a president that I think is the worst thing that has ever happened to Israel. But I will be backing it very strongly. They’re our best ally. They’re our best ally in the Middle East. They’ve really been loyal to us. We have not been loyal to them.”
That must be why Trump re-tweeted a white nationalist who defends Adolf Hitler.
Indeed, The Jerusalem Post draws attention to just how good a friend Trump is, especially to Benjamin Netanyahu:
Before the 2013 Israeli election, Trump recorded a 30-second video message endorsing the Likud leader. “You truly have a great prime minister in Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s a winner, he’s highly respected, he’s highly thought of by all. Vote for Benjamin – terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel…
It would seem Trump intends a slavish devotion to Netanyahu’s wishes. But didn’t Trump promise to be a strong US president? To make America great again? Well, maybe he meant Israel.
Trump was surprisingly restrained in his response to Netanyahu’s criticism in December of his wish to ban Muslim immigration, settling for postponing a planned trip to Israel until after he becomes president.
A Trump-Netanyahu relationship might be less straightforward than either man wishes. Or Netanyahu might respond very differently to a Trump who is president and in position to make all his wishes come true. A frightening prospect for the rest of us. The Times of Israel came out with the following headline for August 8, 2015: “When it comes to Jewish ties, no GOP candidate trumps Trump.”
Trump’s lawyer is Jewish, his daughter is Jewish. Trump is Presbyterian but only to the extent that he has his “little wine” and “little crackers” and can find his Bible to wave around.
After all, it’s not that Netanyahu hasn’t shown the same callous disregard for people who are not sufficiently “Jewish” as Trump has for those not sufficiently “American.” In a January 5 op-ed at Haaretz, Bradley Burston wrote that “So successful has Trump been in adopting Netanyahu’s anti-migrant, anti-minority, scrape-the-sewer model, that some Trump admirers argue that it’s now Netanyahu who’s aping Trump.”
He offers a Breitbart headline from January 3 that makes just that claim: “Netanyahu Echoes Trump on Arab Population Following Tel Aviv Attacks.”
Scott Krane’s op-ed in The Daily Caller back in December seems frighteningly true: “Donald Trump Would Make a Better Leader For Israel Than For The US.” The trouble is, this would be true of a Trump elected president of the United States.
Trump surely knows the United States has always backed Israel, unless it comes to Israel attempting to hijack our foreign policy. We’ve even let Israel attack our ships and not retaliated, even though it proved they knew they were attacking our ship and did it anyway.
You can’t get much friendlier than that. Trump, apparently, thinks he can be an Uber-friend to Israel.
There are many reasons to reject a Trump presidency, his pandering to Benjamin Netanyhahu’s extremism not least among them. You might remember the flub over the Democrats’ removal of mention of God and Jerusalem from the 2012 party platform. After all, the United States, since 1995’s Jerusalem Embassy Act, has at least payed lip service to the idea that Jerusalem is properly Israel’s capital but that is a far cry from declaring that it is so in fact. It’s more a recognition that Israel says Jerusalem is its capital.
The point people miss is the outrage of any party platform focusing not on the United States but on another country is unhealthy. These are American political parties and ought to be focused on the United States, on its government, it’s people. And after all, Palestinians also make a claim to Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount is sacred to Muslims as well as to Jews.
An Israel First policy could certainly support Israel’s claim to Jerusalem at the expense of Arab sentiment, but such a move would come at the expense of America’s safety and the broader picture of peace in the Middle East as well.