Analysis

Pew Poll Proves Israel’s Isolation as Adoring Trumpland

Identification with his abrasive personality and support for his pro-Israel policies account for huge gap between Israeli admiration and world’s disdain for U.S. president

U.S. President Donald Trump speaking during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, September 26, 2018.
AFP

Now it’s official. A new report by Pew Research conclusively proves that Israel is Trumpland. Most of the world, especially its democratic part, is wary of the U.S. president, but for Israelis, everything seems dandy.

Among the 25 countries included in Pew’s latest Survey of Global Attitudes and Trends, Israel is in second place in its confidence in Trump’s ability to manage the world, closely behind the Philippines, led by our newfound buddy and alleged mass murderer Rodrigo Dutarte.

Israelis trust Trump more than anyone in the world to look out for their country’s interests. And only in Israel is support for Trump actually increasing, by leaps and bounds.

>> Israel will pay for its too-tight embrace of Donald Trump | Opinion

Outside the Israeli bubble, the world’s confidence in American leadership is collapsing, especially when compared to the latter years of Barack Obama’s tenure as president. Confidence in the U.S. president has plummeted from 83%-25% in Canada, from 86% to 10% in Germany, from 84% to 9% in France from 75% to 7% in Spain and so on. Even Israel’s new ethnocentric and authoritarian Eastern European allies registered a sharp drop in trust in the U.S. president, in Poland from 58% to 35% and in Viktor Orban’s Hungary from 58% to 31%.

Only in Israel did trust in the U.S. presidency jump from 49%, when it was last measured by Pew in 2016, to 69% support for Trump today, at a rate matched by only one sector of Western European politics, which deserves mention: The far right.

One of the many signs that appeared in Jerusalem following Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy there reads "Trump make Israel great," Jerusalem, May 2018
Olivier Fitoussi

Once again, the biblical curse of Balaam from the Book of Numbers - considered a blessing by many Jewish sages - of Israel as “a people that dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations”, is manifested for all to see. Apparently things that we can see from here, in the center of the Middle East cauldron, can’t be seen from there, in the hallways of most of the world’s capitals. Only we can truly understand Trump and appreciate his positive leadership that lies behind the smoke screen of his deficiencies and scandals.

>> Trump's hardball policy on the Palestinians will blow up in Israel's face | Opinion

In Israeli eyes, and in Israeli eyes only, the change from Obama to Trump is an improvement, not a disaster. And the fact that hypocritical Europe, weakly Canada, detached Australia or delusional Latin America are united in their disdain for Trump is proof positive, according to local logic, that our way is just.

The anomalous Israeli support obviously stems, as the poll’s presenters suggest, from Trump’s unilateral pro-Israeli decisions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. As an added bonus, Trump is also tormenting the Palestinians, just as most Israelis believe they deserve. And Benjamin Netanyahu is constantly harping about Trump, our one and only true friend, the likes of which Israel has never seen before. 

Under such circumstances, if only in response to the cognitive dissonance, it’s reasonable that Israelis convince themselves that if Trump is good for the Jews, he must be good for the entire world. If only this was the sole explanation for Israel turning into a groupie of a president that the world detests and one that most Americans, as of today, despise.

>> Does Trump want to starve the Palestinians into submission? | Opinion 

A banner hailing at Trump in Jerusalem, December 2017
Olivier Fitoussi

Israelis for some reason aren’t interested the fact that Trump has ruptured traditional alliances, sown division and distrust in the West and continues to maintain his peculiar relations with Vladimir Putin as well as his truly perverse love affair with Kim Jong Un. It doesn’t seem to matter to most Israelis that Trump licenses and encourages destroyers of democracy everywhere, or that he has abandoned America’s traditional pose as preacher and paragon of human rights, a term that has in any case been turned into a code word for Hussein Obama, George Soros and the New Israel Fund.

Indeed, it is his indifference to refugees, cruelty to immigrants, war against the rule of law, hatred for foreigners, never-ending lies, abusive invective, nod to racists and disdain for women that make Israelis, for obvious reasons, feel right at home with Donald Trump.

The abrasive, impatient shoot-from-the-hip novice who speaks the favorite Israeli lingua franca called dugri - roughly translated as “in your face” - is one of us, an honorary member of the Israeli tribe, the macho man of our dreams, and whoever doesn’t like it can lump it.

But you can rest assured that if the day comes when Israel is forced to pay a price for its unhesitating and nearly unequivocal embrace of a leader so universally abhorred, the dynamic duo of Trump and Netanyahu will be quick to agree that Fake News liberals are once again to blame.