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2/22/16

Israel: Six Reasons Trump Would Be Disaster for Israel and the Middle East - Alexander Griffing

Donald Trump declares he “will be very good to Israel.” He declares his “closeness to Judaism”. But it didn’t take long on the campaign trail for his ignorance about Israel and the region, and a superabundance of Jewish caricatures, to slip out.

Trump has been roundly criticized for his lack of foreign policy knowhow. On the Hugh Hewitt show he couldn’t distinguish between Hezbollah and Hamas. On Meet the Press he said he gets most of foreign policy advice “from the shows.” His mendacity on the campaign trail, including claiming he has a foreign policy advisor who isn’t actually advising him, won Trump Politifact’s “Lie of the Year Award,” - not just for a single mistruth but for over 58 false statements made in 2015.

 But not to worry, when he couldn’t name the basic players in the Middle East, Trump promised Hugh Hewitt that he either wouldn’t need to know or he would learn it all before getting into office. “I will be so good at the military, your head will spin,” he said.

Trump regularly cites Israeli policies that already divide the American Jewish community as being both successful and replicable for the United States. He cites “the [separation] wall” in Israel as an example of why the United States should build a wall with Mexico, and has repeatedly called for “taking out the families of terrorists,” one long step further from the Israeli policy of demolishing terrorists’ homes.

Israel certainly wouldn’t gain reputationally from this emulation: As Ryan Lizza noted in the New Yorker after attending a Trump rally, “I had never previously been to a political event at which people cheered for the murder of women and children.”

Historically, the American leaders who have historically best served Israel’s interests were fuelled by ideological motivations. Truman recognized Israel, against the urging of the advisor he believed to be the greatest man alive, George Marshall, because of his Christian faith and deep belief in spreading universal values. America’s patronage of Israel has been based more on ideological and philosophical imperatives, with a dose of clear-sighted pragmatism, than any so-called “Jewish lobby.”

Donald Trump has shown no ideological underpinnings, other than “making America great again,” that would ensure he would support Israel in tough times. He’s already shown little backbone in standing up for other states’ independence against larger foes: When pressed on whether or not he believed Ukraine should be a part of NATO, he said he didn’t care. He feels no nostalgia for backing up strategic allies of half-a-century’s standing:

 "If somebody attacks Japan, we have to immediately go and start World War III, OK? If we get attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us. Somehow, that doesn't sound so fair. Does that sound good?" Trump said. Israel’s fate in terms of its military and strategic dependence on the U.S. would be subject to a kind of erratic opportunism based on Donald Trump’s whims and the latest subjects of his bunker mentality. 

Read more: Six Reasons Trump Would Be Disaster for Israel and the Middle East - Haaretz - Israeli News Source Haaretz.com

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