Friday, December 4, 2015

Donald Trump Lines up Opposite the Israel Lobby!

In 2007 John Mearshimer and Stephen Walt wrote a book about the influence of the Israel lobby on U.S. Politics and they were ostracized for it: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  Politicians remain obsequious to Israeli interests. Ron Pundak, one of the Israeli negotiators present at camp David during the Oslo talks said that Clinton behaved amateurishly by basically acting as Israel's lawyer during the negotiations. The U.S. was not an honest broker. This has been true ever since Carter.

In a mind-boggling statistic, in recent elections as much as 2/3rd of the money donated to Democratic candidates has come from Jewish donors. At the Republican Jewish Coalition forum for presidential candidates on Thursday (12/3/15) Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz dutifully promised that they would shred the Iran deal on their first day in office, and move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem--as Netanyahu wants. Chemi Shalev thinks its a charade, but adopting an unreflective pro-Israel stance is a right of passage in American politics these days.

Hillary Clinton recently wrote a fawning letter to Haim Saban detailing all the pro-Israel actions she would take. When the Republican Congress invited Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress, by-passing normal protocol by doing this behind the president's back, Democrats and Republicans had a competition to test who could provide more standing ovations. The Republicans won, but only because Netanyahu is so overtly aligned with the GOP.

So it is noteworthy that Donald Trump is refusing to play ball. Chemi Shalev reports in Haaretz:
“You're not going to support me because I don't want your money,” he added, eliciting titters, but in Trump’s book that’s just prudent. Not long ago, in a GOP debate, Trump said that he himself only gives money to politicians in order to receive something in return. “When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. With Hillary Clinton, I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice, because I gave,” Trump said in August.
More significantly, in an interview earlier in the day he squarely put the onus for reaching a peace deal on Israel.  Trump is calling it like he sees it--and on this issue he is seeing it correctly.

The Jewish lobby will be working overtime to bring Trump down. On the Republican side, it appears they are going to back Rubio. It will be interesting to see how the differences on Israel between Rubio and Trump will play out in the next debate... and the polling to follow.

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