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Trump Plans to Shower Israel With Love, but It Might Be a Honey Trap for Netanyahu
Intelligent ‘anti-Semitism’ for thinking Gentiles
Trump believes reaching ‘the ultimate deal’ with Israel and Palestinians will help eradicate ISIS. It’s pretty certain that that’s not how Netanyahu views things
At the start of the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on the sidelines of the Islamic-American summit in Riyadh on Sunday, the Egyptian president went out of his way to compliment his American counterpart.
“You have a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible,” he told Trump. And Trump, who laughed and looked embarrassed for a moment, recovered quickly. “I agree,” he said.
And with the cameras still in the room and the microphones recording, Trump responded with an unconventional compliment of his own. “Love your shoes,” he told Sissi. “Boy, those shoes!”
Sissi, who properly flattered Trump, didn’t invent anything. He simply looked around, saw how the host – King Salman bin Abdulaziz – was behaving, and acted accordingly. The Saudis’ management of Trump’s visit was no less than ingenious. They perfectly matched the product to the customer and lavished praise, honors, and high-dollar deals on him. In his address Sunday to the dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders who had gathered under the wings of the kingdom, Trump provided the payback and indicated that as far as he was concerned Saudi Arabia is the new leader of the Arab and Muslim world.
Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia showed that one of the central challenges facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be trying to flatter the U.S. president more copiously than the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Palestinians. This is not an impossible task for Netanyahu. A prelude could be seen during their White House meeting on February 15. One can assume that Netanyahu will declare more than once that Donald Trump is Israel’s greatest friend since U.S. President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel seven minutes after its declaration on May 14, 1948.
The visit to Jerusalem is important to both Trump and Netanyahu for the same reason. Both want to show that the tensions that characterized the U.S.-Israeli relationship during Barack Obama’s eight years in office are over. Both want the public parts of the visit to be full of symbolic gestures, photo-ops and expressions of incredible friendship, that will leave no doubt as to the state of bilateral relations – the complete opposite of the Obama era.
Trump has learned from Obama’s error in skipping a stop in Israel after his major address in Cairo and from his failure to invest any particular effort in gaining the confidence of the Israeli people. Trump is coming to Israel directly after his visit to Saudi Arabia and he plans to spray love in every direction from the moment he lands at Ben-Gurion Airport. His speech at the Israel Museum on Tuesday will be directed at public opinion and will aim to make Israelis think of him the opposite of what they thought of Obama. This isn’t expected to be a particularly difficult task, given the most Israelis were suspicious of Obama from his first day in office.
But the love with which Trump will envelope Netanyahu during the visit could turn out to be a honey trap for the premier. Netanyahu could find hints of this during Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, which he delivered just as the security cabinet was being convened to approve a package of economic concessions for the Palestinians. If Netanyahu had left the security cabinet meeting to watch Trump’s speech he would have been delighted.
A large part of it sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu himself – the sharp messages against Iran, stressing the fact that there is no difference between the Islamic State, al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas and the call for an all-out war on terrorism.
But among all these messages what stood out was the fact that while discussing the war on terror, Trump mentioned his goal of achieving a historic peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. If the three monotheistic religions will cooperate, he said, then peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible.
The U.S. president sees Israeli-Palestinian peace as a central component of his Middle East strategy and believes that if he achieves “the ultimate deal” it will help his efforts to eradicate the Islamic State. It’s pretty certain that that’s not how Netanyahu views things.
Shouts of ‘Dump Trump’ in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during President’s visit to Israel
‘It’s important that we dispel this idea that there’s a love affair between Jews and Trump, or between Israelis and Trump,’ says Jerusalem protest organizer.
Carrying signs that read “Impeach Trump” and “Trump go home,” over 500 protesters rallied in front of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and US Consulate in Jerusalem Monday against the visit of President Donald Trump.
“We don’t want him here in Israel, and we don’t want him in the White House either,” said Israeli-American Matan Kaminer, 34.
Trump is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories for around 28 hours on his 9-day foreign visit.
Standing in front of the embassy that many Israelis would like moved to Jerusalem, over 100 protesters spoke about Trump’s Israel policies, allegations of Trump ties to Russia, among other subjects.
“I think Trump is an embarrassment to everyone,” said Ricki Lieberman, 70, of Jaffa, “He feels much more comfortable with the despots of Saudi Arabia than with the democratic system of Congress.
“I don’t know what he believes,” said Lieberman, a former volunteer with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“And for Israel to put itself in his hands is dangerous.”
The protesters, organized by Democrats Abroad in Israel, Pantsuit Nation and Green Course, were mostly American and Israeli-American Jews who have immigrated to Israel or are visiting the country for work and studies. A separate anti-Trump protest held by the radical left-wing party Hadash also joined in.
Citing alleged collusion with the Russian government, misogynistic and hateful rhetoric and general incompetence, at least 200 primarily American-Israel citizens gathered Monday night across the street from Jerusalem’s US Consulate to protest Trump’s presidency.
Sponsored by Democrats Abroad-Israel, the protest featured speakers including Meretz City Councilwoman Dr. Laura Wharton, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman of Congregation Kol Haneshama and Rabbi Leon Wiener Dow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Amid placards including “The Future is Female,” “Build a wall around Trump. I’ll pay for it!” and “Love trumps hate,” Alice Letter said she brought a large sign stating “Hashtag Resist 45” to condemn the controversial US president.
“I am an American Israeli, have lived here for 13 years, and am a news junkie, and am very upset about the Russian influence [in the US election] and think Trump is in with all the oligarchs,” Letter said.
“He’s done a lot of deals over the years [with the Russians] and they have set him up, and I believe Putin owns him.”
Noting purported complicity among the GOP rank and file, Letter said she has become exacerbated by the controversy, which she believes will conclude with Trump’s impeachment.
“I think this is going to be like Watergate and that he will be impeached,” she said.
“If he’s not impeached within the next year-and-a-half, in 2018 there’s going to be a wave of Democrats coming in and Nancy Pelosi will be the president.”
Moreover, Letter dismissed Trump’s pro-Israel rhetoric as ambivalent, and coming from a “forked tongue.”
“He uses language such as ‘believe me’ and all that stuff, and I don’t believe him,” she said. “I just hope that since Trump is here, something good comes from it.”
Organizer Jacob Fortinsky said he was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout.
“I, as an American, oppose what my president stands for, his incompetence, potential collusion with the Russians, obstruction of justice, lack of experience and hateful rhetoric,” Fortinsky said. “I see that even in the Jewish community he has divided people, so I think it’s important to dispel this idea that there’s a love affair between Jews and Trump, or Israelis and Trump, and to show there is a global resistance to him and what he stands for.”
Wharton said it was important for her to attend as a concerned American Israeli.
“First of all, as an American, I oppose what he stands for: the divisiveness, the attacks on women, blacks and Muslims, and the hate he has brought to the American political system, as well as his tendency to distort and destroy the truth,” she said.
“But I’m also here as an Israeli to say: ‘If you are already here, I suggest you ask [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu a lot of hard questions about the things he’s trying to market you, and why he hasn’t responded to the Saudi peace plan, or the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Wharton added: “I also hope that while he’s here he will visit east Jerusalem and ask why it looks the way it does compared to west Jerusalem and address the issues that the Palestinians are trying to raise internationally.”