Saturday, December 05, 2015

How Donald Trump May Just Have Blown His Election Chances

Donald Trump at Jewish Republican Coalition

Donald Trump may have just  done himself some serious damage politically.

Last Thursday, Trump delivered a speech to the Republican Jewish coalition that revealed a lot of ignorance of the Middle East and Israel with some highly questionable remarks.

He started out well before a sympathetic crowd, joking about how his daughter Ivanka, a convert to Orthodox Judaism is no longer reachable on the Jewish Sabbath and was greeted with warm applause and laughter. And then he went nuts:

Peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority "has to do with Israel and whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things," Trump told the Jewish Republican Coalition. This, despite his acknowledgement that Israel had already made many difficult moves for the sake of a peace agreement.[...]

Later he said, not antagonistically, “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken." He added that the Jews would not support him for president "even though you know I’m the best thing that could ever happen to Israel… You're not going to support me because I don’t want your money.”

These remarks by Trump doubled down on ones he made in an AP interview ( which, since it's the AP might have been selectively edited) implying that he intends to force negotiations between Israel and the PLO and that he feels the onus is on Israel:

"I have a real question as to whether or not both sides want to make it," Trump told The Associated Press, clarifying that he has more concerns regarding "one side in particular."

"A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal - whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things," Trump said. "They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal."

He also refused to rule out dividing Jerusalem as part of any peace settlement.

Both Ted Cruz,Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio have stated explicitly that they recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capitol and would move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in accordance with a bill congress passed years ago. I believe Cruz and Huckabee.

Let's go over what these remarks reveal about Donald Trump. And let me start out by saying that certain allegations of 'anti-semitism' by the Anti-Defamation League (a largely Democrat Jewish version of the NAACP)are abysmally stupid. Trump is no Jew hater, although his phrasing of his remarks about 'Jewish money' were equally dumb and self-defeating. What sense did it make to make these remarks in front of a friendly audience like the Republican Jewish Coalition? He may not need their money, but both Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel tend to have a lot of political influence on both sides of the aisle. Alienating them as an unforced error is a huge  mistake.

And those Israeli concessions Trump expects to negotiate? I notice he didn't mention negotiating any concessions with Abbas and the PLO. He may even realize that Abbas has time and time again said he's not making any concessions, ever.Now, with Obama, being the anti-Israel ideologue he is, it's understandable that Hamas and the PLO would literally be allowed to get away with murder. I would have expected Trump to be more sensible, or to hire an adviser that was. Obviously I was mistaken.

The Israelis have already made quite a few concessions for peace, and none of them mattered, because the basic cause of the violence is that Abbas,Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and others simply reject the very existence of Israel and indeed Jews in the Middle East. That's the bottom line.Does anyone really think that even if Israel gave Abbas everything he wants (and idiots like former Israeli PM/felon Ehud Olmert came pretty close) that the violence and the attempt to drive the Jews into the sea would cease? It would simply increase. The 'peace' the Arabs intend for the Jews of Israel is the peace of the grave.

Negotiate that, Mr.Trump!

That's the end game, and any concessions Israel is stupid enough to give them are only a means to that intended end.

And as others have found out before Trump, Israel is never going to agree to redividing Jerusalem - ever. Nor should they. During the 19 years Jordan illegally controlled East Jerusalem after they and the British ethnically cleansed what was a Jewish majority in that part of the city, no Jews were allowed in East Jerusalem, not even to visit any of their Holy sites. Nor were any claims ever paid for their stolen homes. Twenty eight historical synagogues were burned the ground, others were used as latrines and stables and the Kotel, the Western Wall was used as a garbage dump. Jewish cemeteries like the one on the Mount of Olives had the graves desecrated and the gravestones, some dating back centuries used as paving stones.

If that wasn't reason enough in view of the PLO's consistent support and abetting of terrorist attacks on Jews before during and since Oslo, would any sensible person expect Israel to give Abbas and the PLO a closer base to launch attacks from?

Trump's stance also reveals an ignorance of the Middle East I find surprising. Israel is an integral US ally in the region, especially now. Chuck Hagel, Obama's former Secretary of Defense who used to be fairly anti-Israel had an epiphany once he got the job, and realized this. In fact, his changed views cost him his job, simply for following normal procedure in shipping arms to Israel during the Gaza War against Hamas via the Pentagon. President Obama fired him for not clearing it through the White House first and cut off all arms shipments to Israel for the remainder of the war, the first time a US president has ever done that since Israel became a US ally during the Nixon Administration.

As Hagel learned, a weakened Israel is a major detriment to US security. And the US gets nothing from a third 'Palestinian' state whatsoever. Any serious candidate for office ought to realize that before he opens his mouth the way Trump did.

Trump's remarks also make little sense from a political standpoint. While a lot of leftist, secular Jews have and will continue to vote Democrat, recent events, especially when it comes to a questionable candidate like Hillary Clinton as well as certain trends within the Democrat party are making changes in some quarters. Not only that, but frankly, much of Israel's support in America comes from non-Jews. There are plenty of them, especially but not exclusively among Evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Catholics.

Trump just gave a lot of these people a reason to sit on their hands and stay home if he's the nominee. And that includes a lot of people like me who were warming to him but are now having second thoughts.

Regardless of how you might feel about Jews and Israel, electing someone capable of making this kind of unforced error as president merits serious thought.


Seal Of Lion said...

I doubt its hurt his chances much, if at all. A lot of his supporters don't care if he said this or that in an interview. If he made a habit of saying it then things might change but a one off? Nope.

Elise Ronan said...

There is an aspect to this that noone seems to be taking into account, Trump has a huge amount of money invested in the Gulf Arab states. He just opened up Trump Dubai. When it comes to Israel he sounds like an Arabist echo chamber and that he is more interested in keeping his Islamic-theocratic-dictator- financiers happy than actually solving any kind of Middle East quagmire.

While we do question the Clinton Foundation and the amount they are financially beholden to Dubai, Qatar and KSA, I think its time to see to whom Trump actually owes his financial allegiance.