Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 7:04 AM

Recognizing Jerusalem: Trump’s America and Netanyahu’s Israel against the World

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.

Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem isolates the United States on one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic issues. It has drawn a storm of criticism from Arab and European leaders [and even] Pope Francis and the Chinese foreign ministry joined the chorus of voices warning that the move could unleash a wave of violence across the region.

(New York Times, December 6, 2017)

Frankly, I’m not sure why people are getting their knickers in a twist over this recognition. After all, it’s so plainly just another of Trump’s political stunts. For example, he made quite a show of “ripping up” the Iran nuclear deal. Yet he left it to Congress to assure Iran that the United States will continue to honor it.

In this case, even he made clear that his announcement amounted to much ado about nothing.

Specifically, the only difference between him and his predecessors is that they were too respectful of the competing claims to Jerusalem and too diplomatic to risk regional fallout from making this presidential announcement.

Yet Trump took idle-minded pride in pointing out that he couldn’t care less about those claims or that risk. Moreover, he clearly couldn’t give a damn about the adverse impact on the perennially beleaguered peace process.

The point is that this announcement does nothing to change the status of Jerusalem as a terminally divided city – with Israelis claiming the west as their capital and Palestinians claiming the east as theirs. Period.

This is why, instead of reacting to this stunt, world leaders should just ignore it. Here is an instructive excerpt from “Advisers Treating Trump Like that Crazy Uncle … and It Behooves Everyone to Do the Same,” May 2, 2017.

____________________

Trump has his surrogates continually scrambling to clarify the stunningly stupid and often reckless things he says. …

Many commentators are suddenly parroting the crazy-uncle allusion. But here is how I made it several weeks ago – as I explained the implications of this farcical dynamic between Trump and his advisers:

Such blunders are becoming a feature of his presidency. This is why political and business leaders worldwide are beginning to treat him like a crazy uncle, who is liable to say anything. Instead, they are looking to his cabinet secretaries to explain official US policies.

(“Hail, Erdogan – Nouveau Sultan of Turkey,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 19, 2017)

Beyond this, the world should thank God for the constitutional checks and balances that limit the damage a crazy president like Trump can do.

____________________

Sure enough, reports are that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis lobbied to no avail to disabuse Trump of the folly of making this announcement. But I have no doubt that his advisers are already reaching out to world leaders to clean up this latest mess.

This is especially so regarding leaders in the Middle East. Perhaps Tillerson can convince them that Trump making this announcement in America is no different from Yassar Arafat shouting “death to America” in Ramallah, but singing “God bless America” everywhere else. In other words, it’s all about the base.

That said, I would not be surprised if (Muslim) leaders in the Middle East begin looking to China as a more reliable superpower patron and peace broker. Not least because, in doing so, they would only be following the switch many in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America have already made.

Meanwhile, apropos of his base, Trump knows that he did enough to get ignorant Evangelicals in America to hail him as a latterday Saul of Tarsus. Not to mention how much he’s relishing the hosannas he’s getting from right-wing Zionists in Israel. Never mind that he’s too self-absorbed to notice that they see him as nothing more than a useful idiot doing their bidding.

Israeli PM [Benjamin Netanyahu’s] response to US President’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

‘This is a historic day. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years. …

We’re profoundly grateful to the President for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the US embassy here.’

(Arutz Sheva 7, December 6, 2017)

Alas, this sectarian bit of idol worship is worth all the risk in the world to the reckless and narcissistic Trump.

But I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the Iago-like role Netanyahu played in getting Trump to make this announcement. It’s also worth noting that Netanyahu probably cares even less about the fallout.

Netanyahu seems to think Israel can get by with a little help from its friends — even if those friends compose just the small faction of Christian fundamentalists and neo-cons on the lunatic fringe of US Republican Party.

(“Netanyahu’s Call for Jewish Exodus more Sharpton than Moses,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 23, 2015)

Only this explains Netanyahu defying the dire warnings of his purported Muslim friends (notably the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey) – all of whom have joined in the “storm of criticism.”

Related commentaries:
Trump at UN re Israel
Crazy uncle

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 9:24 pm

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