Washington Watch: Trump victory good for Bibi, bad for Jews

He can’t sleep with so many anti-Semite, neo-Nazis and hate-mongers and still call himself a friend of Israel.

November 11, 2016 09:25
Donald Trump

Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Donald Trump’s victory may be good news for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who congratulated the president-elect and called him a “true friend” of Israel, but it is bad news for the overwhelming majority of American Jews, who voted (71-24) for Hillary Clinton.

Beyond boasting about his deal-making skills and saying he could be an impartial broker in Israeli-Palestinian talks, Trump has shown no real interest in reviving the peace process; neither have Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

He is opposed to the two-state solution and has no objection to unfettered settlement construction in the West Bank.

He has talked about demanding Israel reimburse Washington for past foreign aid while saying he won’t be bound by the cap on military aid in the recently signed bilateral military funding agreement.

Trump campaign insiders are saying his choice for secretary of state is former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich, who has called the Palestinians an “invented” people with no claim to a homeland.

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire,” Gingrich said in a 2011 interview when he was running for president. “We have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab people, and they had the chance to go many places.”

Gingrich’s failed campaign was largely funded by US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, an outspoken opponent of Palestinian statehood and top financial backer of Netanyahu.

Trump has shifted positions frequently on issues like the status of Jerusalem, the location of the US Embassy in Israel, American military assistance and peace negotiations. Most recently he said he would move the embassy to Jerusalem, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

Trump has not withdrawn his call to ban Muslims from entering the US. And now he’ll have strong congressional backing for his anti-immigration policies while they try to figure out how to pay for his Mexican wall.

Trump has called for renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal, but that will prove easier said than done. He’ll support congressional calls for new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, but America’s allies, including Russia, which is making billions selling reactors, radars and weapons to Iran, are unlikely to go along with any US demand to reopen the pact.

Russia will be an interesting challenge for Trump. He has spoken of his admiration for Vladimir Putin, who was among the first to praise Trump’s election. The real estate mogul has said a top priority will be warming ties with Russia, including letting Putin take the lead in dealing with ISIS. That has to deeply worry Israel because Putin’s role in Syria is to protect his client, President Bashar Assad, whose closest allies are Iran and Hezbollah; all three have vowed to destroy Israel.

The mercurial president-elect based much of his campaign on renegotiating trade agreements, and that could be a problem for Israel, which signed the first US free trade agreement during the Reagan years. Last year the US had an $11 billion trade deficit with the Jewish state.

American Jews are more supportive of resuscitating the peace process than the Israeli government, but they have more urgent worries about a Trump administration.

Millions of Americans stand to lose their health care coverage if the incoming president keeps his vow to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act. Like other Republicans, he has spoken of “repeal and replace,” but so far no one has offered a viable substitute.

With Republican control of the House and Senate, he plans to push through his vows to cut spending for education and welfare, end funding for Planned Parenthood, repeal a broad range of environmental regulations, end all gun restrictions, begin rounding up undocumented workers, suspend Syrian refugee resettlement and “defend the unborn.”

Trump will never have to worry about demands to release his tax returns; look for his appointees at the IRS to quickly drop all audits of his finances and those of his family.

Judge Merrick Garland, who is Jewish, won’t make it to the Supreme Court, and Trump will have a Republican Senate to confirm right wing judges who will shape the federal bench for a generation or more.

He has mentioned making former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani attorney-general. On Election Day Giuliani was calling for prosecution of Clinton for her handling of classified information in her emails. Trump repeatedly encouraged surrogates and crowds calling for prosecuting and imprisoning his opponent.

But most disturbing is the alarmingly high level of anti-Semite, racism, bigotry and xenophobia of a frightening number of his core followers that he inspired and encouraged.

He launched his campaign with attacks on Mexicans, broadening that to include Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans, immigrants, assorted minorities, the disabled, the poor, gays and women. And Jews.

Trump’s Jewish friends and business associates say he is not an anti-Semite, and they point to his daughter’s conversion. I hope they’re right about him personally, but his words and actions are poisonous.

Supporters insist he couldn’t be an anti-Semite because he is a strong supporter of Israel. So was Richard Nixon, but listen to his tapes and you’ll also hear a Jew-hater.

Trump did little to distance himself from white supremacists, nativists, anti-Semite, conspiracy theorists and xenophobes making up so much of his base. Occasionally and sometimes reluctantly he rejected their endorsements, but more often he, his sons and aides retweeted some of the most vile hate messages.

The anti-Semitic dog whistles coming out of his campaign were deafening.

Trump closed his campaign with an ad insinuating a secret international clique was conspiring for his defeat, and there was a clear intimation that it was run by Jews.

His ad echoed classic antisemitic tropes and depicted three prominent Jews – Janet Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board; billionaire philanthropist George Soros; and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein – as the presumed leaders of the conspiracy.

The Anti-Defamation League has repeatedly criticized Trump and his campaign for its ongoing and thinly disguised anti-Semitism. There were attacks on “international bankers” and “global financial powers,” anti-Semitic buzzwords that sounded like they were taken right out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, most notably his charge that Hillary Clinton “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty.”

Jewish organizations will be watching closely to see how much voice and access these hate groups have in the Trump administration. He can’t sleep with so many anti-Semite, neo-Nazis and hate-mongers and still call himself a friend of Israel.

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