Among the explanations for the success of Donald Trump is the frustration of Americans with politics as usual. His typical voter is not highly educated or well-to-do. There are lots of struggling Americans born into the middle class or aspiring to do it, and not all that secure in what they have.

 
Trump is also entertaining. His one liners compete with anything on television, with many of them touching on the underlying hopes or fears of those who are unsure of their future, and see threats from people who want what should be theirs.
 
Talking about the size of his fingers and his penis may define a new low for presidential campaigns.
 
One suspects that both Trump and many of his supporters haven't the knowledge, the capacity, or the patience to think through what the one liners might mean for the details of domestic policy or how the US can manage its position in the world.
 
Those who fear Trump, and seek to oppose him with great intensity, may be too late. 
 
You can't beat somebody with nobody, and there isn't much by way of someone capable of overcoming Trump, by attracting enough voters and serious donors.
 
If Trump is an unknown who reeks of danger, his leading opponent, Ted Cruz, is so far to the right on a number of issues as to keep moderate Republicans from the polls, or send them to the Democrats..
 
Hillary is the obvious alternative, looking attractive even to Republicans more fearful of Trump and worried about losing a chance at the White House and the benefits that come with it.
 
Yet she has enough negatives to cause some doubt about the campaign, and how she would operate as President. 
 
Among the wonders is the lack of a Democratic alternative under the age of 70, with voter appeal.
 
So at this point it looks like a crap shoot, with the future of America in doubt, as well as those dependent on the stability that the US might provide to the world.
 
Israel's task is to continue nurturing a connection with the US, both directly to the government and with the help of American Jews, yet making clear to both that there are some things that Israel must do in its own interest that may embarrass our friends.


It should also nurture connections with Western Europe, Russia, India, China, and moderate Muslim governments, playing the classic role of Jews and small countries, getting help where it is available at the moment, and not signing on to any government so strongly as to limit its chances with others.


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Moderation is the norm, guided by a realist's sense of what is possible.
  • Israel is forceful in defending itself against Palestinian violence, but stays clear of a thorough-cleaning onslaught that would cause problems for established overseas connections, and those new ones being nurtured, largely under the table, with Muslim governments.
  • Israelis recognize that we will remain an island in a Muslim region, and must operate accordingly
  • Israel will deal more closely with Russia than Americans yearning for a Cold War victory might wish, aspiring to some leverage with Russia that will moderate Iranian aspirations against Israel, and keep Russia's Syrian allies from causing us trouble.
  • Staying out of the fight against radical Islam, including al Quida, the Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas, various Jihadists, Boko Aram and all the wannabes, except as it seems essential. This reflects a view that total victory is unlikely, and that it's best to rely on the greater self interest of moderate Muslims to sacrifice themselves in order to deal with the extremists
  • Let individual Jews in the US, Europe do the heavy lifting against anti-Semitism on campuses, BDS, and assorted other craziness directed from Palestine, and enlisting western activists, The Israeli government helps with diplomatic connections, but there is no quick and simple way to stop the age-old inclination of others to blame Jews for whatever. Jews accomplished in the arts, higher education, science, and business, have ample incentives to use their talents and resources to protect themselves, and along the way to protect Israel.
  • Government officials have committed more resources to municipalities in the Arab sector of Israel, but those with reservations are postponing implementation in the context of an increase in violence, and are demanding better administration in the Arab sector as conditions for increase in funding.
  • Parallel to this are proposals to increase the number of West Bank Palestinians able to work in Israel, and to improve the economic opportunities in Gaza, but with an eye to Palestinian cooperation on issues of security.
  • Israeli politicians provide opportunities for non-Orthodox Judaism, but are constrained by the weight of the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox in the population. There's been a government decision to add space to the area of the Western Wall, to separate the new area from that existing, and to allow non-Orthodox forms of prayer in the new section. However, a prominent Orthodox rabbi has issued a decision that religious law (הלכה) forbids allocating the Western Wall to non-Orthodox rituals. His ruling has spurred other Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis to up their rhetoric against non-Orthodox Judaisms. Nothing is done until it is done.
None of this is simple, or assured of success. We won't be happy campers for the foreseeable future, but we're Jews, and we should be used to the situation.. 


Comments welcome


-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
irashark@gmail.com 
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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