In a matter of hours, the end of the world will arrive. Donald Trump will be sworn in as president of the United States, and according to very important pundits, we can expect worldwide devastation; an increase in discrimination and racism, poverty and distress; the dismantling of the NATO alliance; the destruction of democracy; and America to sink deep beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
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But right before all this happens, one man is actually smiling today: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s convinced his life will be much more pleasant with Trump. He believes that from now on, he’ll no longer be surprised with unnecessary peace conferences in Paris, and he certainly won’t be preached to about the settlements. From now on, he’ll have a true friend in the White House, who will not only move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but will also support every Israeli act of insanity when it comes to expanding the settlements and deepening the occupation.
But wait, can Netanyahu really smile? After all, the defense minister-designate, Gen. (ret.) James Mattis, said at his Senate confirmation hearing just a few days ago, “The capital of Israel that I go to is Tel Aviv.” And not so long ago, he also said the settlements “are going to make it impossible to maintain the two-state option” and create a risk of “apartheid.” His colleague Nikki Haley, who is slated to become ambassador to the United Nations, said this week that settlements in the territories “can hinder peace.”
In other words, the Trump administration’s policy toward the Middle East isn’t yet clear, or even fully formed.
In any event, this evening’s swearing-in ceremony will take place under heavy protest by the liberal American media, the academic elites and key figures from the entertainment world. Clearly, they’re entitled to criticize the president-elect harshly, and he gives them plenty of reasons to do so. But it’s wrong to lie or distort reality via fake or distorted news, which is effectively what happened throughout the election campaign, and also afterward.
When the campaign began, Trump was portrayed as a joke with absolutely no chance of winning. Then, when his chances improved, analysts said the Republican Party must get rid of him, otherwise it would lose the general election so badly that the party would never recover from the blow. Now, Trump is being portrayed as a zero with no coherent worldview. But what can you do? He actually presented a very coherent worldview, whose title is “America first.”
He sees providing jobs for blue-collar workers as his main economic mission, and therefore he wants to reconsider America’s trade agreements with China and Mexico. He’s also interested in lowering taxes to encourage growth. He wants European countries to pay more for their defense as members of NATO, and South Korea as well, in order to reduce the financial burden on the United States. He’s also no fan of the nuclear deal with Iran.
But the record for lack of objectivity was actually set by the Israeli media, when it aired a television report not long ago about the horrendous death and suffering in Syria. The report criticized a few random sentences Trump let fall on the matter, but didn’t mention Barack Obama even once, even though he is directly responsible for abandoning Syria’s citizens to Bashar Assad, Vladimir Putin, Iran and the Islamic State. So perhaps those pundits who are now prophesying the end of the world are also less than accurate?
In any event, when Netanyahu watches Trump being sworn in this evening, he’ll also have to keep in mind that Trump is a completely unpredictable person, who will only start seeing the classified foreign policy material as of tomorrow. Thus it’s possible that, if he reaches the conclusion that Israel is endangering the Mideast’s stability, and that this is contrary to America’s interests, he’ll summon Netanyahu and tell him in the most undiplomatic language possible: You have a month to reach an agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Get up, get started, and don’t come back without an agreement.
It sounds like a fantasy. It doesn’t sound realistic. But who would have believed, three months ago, that Trump would be sworn in as president of the United States today?