In the beginning, Donald Trump was the Israeli right’s messiah. He will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, he will allow us to settle and annex, he will throw the two-state solution into the dustbin of history. Compared to such redemption, what difference does it make if Trump nurtures extremism, winks at anti-Semitism or turns a blind eye to racism?
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Then Trump morphed into the left’s surprise savior. He will put Benjamin Netanyahu in his place, he will keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, he “understands,” as Tzipi Livni said, “how an agreement with the Palestinians is important to Israel.” Compared to such a godsend, what difference does it make if Trump torments democracy, cozies up to dictators or erodes the liberal values that are supposedly the left’s guiding lights?
Hyperbolic superlatives flowed freely, from both sides of the political divide. He’s determined, he’s unpredictable, he says what he thinks and woe to anyone who gets in his way, we gushed, almost erotically. He’s the only just man in Sodom, Netanyahu raved, urging his ministers - God help us - to “start governing like Trump.” Even Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, the renowned radical, waxed revolutionary over “the American leader who showed the analysts and skeptics that we are in a new age of change and replacing the old governing elites.”
It’s an unavoidable necessity, many will reason, a function of the realpolitik of a country that is dependent on the goodwill of the president, whoever he or she may be. If only that was the story. Even without polls and research papers one can safely assert that Israel is one of the leading states in singing Donald Trump’s praises. And it’s not only pure love that guided the White House to come to Israel first, right after Trump will curtsy to the Saudi monarch. In Israel he is assured of a super-warm welcome, that will inevitably prove embarrassing, in contrast with the promised protests and demonstrations that made him skip trusted allies such as Germany and Britain.
It’s easier to be lenient with Trump panderers from the right. Besides their well proven willingness to subordinate any other consideration to maintaining Israel’s control of the West Bank, Trump is a pretty accurate reflection of their public wishes and secret desires. Like him, they are blunt and impatient, disdainful of minorities, hostile to the media and to the rule of law, hateful towards political correctness and contemptuous of human rights, which they view as an empty lefty slogan.
It’s harder to digest the enthusiasm of the left, even if one accounts for the sublime pleasure of watching Netanyahu and the settlers squirm. One has to be deaf, blind and completely oblivious to ignore the havoc that Trump is wreaking on personal freedoms, minority rights and the rule of law, in Israel and throughout the world. If Big Brother no longer cares to safeguard democracy, what is going to stop the world’s wannabe dictators who have been waiting for so long for such a golden opportunity?
And that’s even without taking into consideration Trump’s stormy three months in office, in which scandal follows controversy just as surely as crisis leads to earthquake: The sacking of FBI Director James Comey and the secrets-to-Russia affair are the produce of last week alone. The White House is paralyzed, Congress is groggy, Washington is in a frenzy and serious observers are beginning to fear for the fate of the Republic.
The thought that the man responsible for this mayhem is going to lead us all to peace borders on the ridiculous. In any case, the liberation of biblical patrimony, on one hand, or a historic peace deal with the Palestinians, on the other, won’t be worth two bits if Trump continues to weaken America abroad and to shatter it from within. A safe and strong and stable America is, in the final analysis, the ultimate guarantor of a safe and strong and stable Israel.