1) Chemi Shalev – as most American Jews loathe Trump, will there be a schism between them and establishment/ right-wing Jews? 2) J Post: Right-wing Israelis perhaps fear that his promise of moving the embassy occupies the same mythological space as the prayer “Next year in Jerusalem”; Plus Notes on Cyrus and Pharaoh, qv Glick.
The bling boys, president and prime minister distilling their personal chemistry at Trump Tower, New York. Photo by Kobi Gidon/ GPO
Netanyahu’s silence on Trump’s white nationalism tells American Jews that Israel stands with their enemies
By Chemi Shalev, Haaretz Analysis
August 21, 2017
The erosion of American Jewish solidarity with Israel didn’t start with Donald Trump. The identification of the Jewish community with the Jewish state reached a zenith in the 1967 Six-Day War and has been going downhill ever since, in spurts and bursts. While Israel continued to enjoy the support of an overwhelming majority of American Jews, divisions about peace, the occupation, religious pluralism and Israel’s increasingly right-wing character grew steadily. When the presidency of Barack Obama pitted his adoring Jewish supporters against a right-wing Jewish establishment and an Israeli prime minister that reviled him, many people thought the rupture couldn’t get worse. But that was before anyone imagined that Trump could be elected president.
Trump is different. His tenure could be a quantum leap, from strife to schism. Jewish liberals and doves may have detested George Bush and conservatives and right-wingers may have despised Barack Obama, but no U.S. president in the modern era has sparked such widespread fear and loathing in the American Jewish community as Trump.
For many Jews, Trump is the worst thing that has happened to America in their lifetimes. Their fear, hostility and revulsion are so strong that they encompass not only Trump but anyone who seems to comfort and support him, to give him aid and succour, to be blind to his awfulness, which seems so obvious to his detractors. That includes Trump’s Jewish friends and supporters in the U.S. as well as the State of Israel, which has embraced him.
Israel’s tepid reaction to the neo-Nazi show of force and violence in Charlottesville is a case in point. It casts Israel as a country that continues to curry favour with Trump despite his flirtation with antisemitic scum. It portrays Netanyahu as a leader willing to sacrifice American Jews in exchange for continued support for his policies and for the occupation. It sullies Israel’s image, perhaps irrevocably, among the 70 percent of American Jews who preferred Hillary Clinton even before it turned out that Trump would be a worse president than anyone could have imagined.
As if it didn’t have enough excusing and explaining to do, Israel’s support for Trump renders it complicit by association as well. When it comes on top of 50 years of occupation, the Orthodox monopoly in Israel that rejects and humiliates Reform and Conservative Jewry and the deterioration of democratic norms in Israel in recent years, Israel’s identification with Trump proves its guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The disgust that many Jews are feeling towards Trump is spilling over now into whatever remained of their goodwill towards Israel as well. If Trump is a perpetrator, then Israel is a collaborator. As time goes by, the two will fuse completely.
A left-wing government in Israel might also have steered clear of confronting the U.S. president head on, but its actions could be easily excused as realpolitik. The support shown by Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition, on the other hand, seems to confirm their detractors’ worst accusations and their sympathizers’ secret suspicions. Trump is seen as an authoritarian, ultra-nationalist rabble-rouser who preys on people’s fears, incites against Muslims and immigrants and is disdainful of democracy and the rule of law. Netanyahu and his cohorts are increasingly seen as the exact same thing.
Even the suspicion that Trump is an antisemite to one degree or another has rubbed off on Netanyahu. Israel has been shamefully reticent to call out Trump on the antisemitism that permeated his election campaign, on his Holocaust-denying refusal to mention Jews as the main victims of Nazi extermination or on his recent effort to whitewash the racist neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville. In fact, the animosity shown by Netanyahu along with right-wing and Orthodox Jews in Israel towards liberal, cosmopolitan, universalist Jews – who are perennially funded, it seems, by either George Soros or the New Israel Fund – is strikingly similar to the kind of anti-Jewish bile spouted by Jew-haters around the world, from David Duke to Viktor Orban.
The delineation between the two opposing Jewish camps has never seemed clearer. On one side we have Netanyahu, many of his colleagues, the pro-settler lobby, an unfortunate proportion of Orthodox Jews, supporters of Jewish settlements, Israelis who are Obama-and/or Muslim-hating along with hyper-hawks and ultra-nationalists such as Sheldon Adelson. On the other side there are Israeli doves along with American Jewish liberals, Reform and Conservative Jews and other Trump-haters. And increasingly it seems that never the twain shall meet.
Israel’s willingness to embrace Trump above and beyond the call of duty is alienating large chunks of the American Jewish community. Those that supported Israel wholeheartedly are beginning to question themselves, those who had been harbouring doubts all along have reached a guilty verdict and those who are sitting on the wall certainly won’t come down in Israel’s u now or anytime in the future.
Emotions run high in times of conflict. When people fear for their country or for their wellbeing or for the safety of their loved ones, there is scant room for moderation and nuance. In the era of Trump, the main question on the minds of his critics is the one Joshua asked when he met God’s emissary: Are you with us or with our enemies? By standing so firmly and so recklessly with Trump, Israel is telling American Jews exactly where it stands: With their enemy.
Politicians from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party expressed disappointment with US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he wants to try to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians before considering moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” he told interviewer Mike Huckabee on the former Arkansas Governor’s show “Huckabee” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network on Saturday.
“If we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to, ultimately, peace in the Middle East, which has to happen,” he said.
Asked if there was a time frame for the embassy move, Trump said: “We’re going to make a decision in the not too distant future.”
Trump signed a temporary order in June to keep the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, despite a campaign promise he made to move it to Jerusalem. He will have to make another decision on the issue at the end of December.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said he believed Trump made the wrong decision to trust Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“I am very disappointed that President Trump chose to delay implementing his campaign promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem due to an illusion that a real peace process can be advanced with the current Palestinian administration,” Elkin said.
“Anyone who sees the incessant incitement from the PA, which refuses to stop paying salaries to terrorists, elects a murderer as Hebron mayor and embraces Hamas, understands that the last thing to expect from Abbas now is advancing peace.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he was still confident that Trump would keep his promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
“Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, is the right thing to do, with or without a peace agreement,” Barkat said.
While on a tour of Samaria with visiting international parliament members brought by the Israel Allies Foundation, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that all embassies must be in Israel’s capital.
“All the embassies should be located in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” she said in a video she posted on Twitter.
“We all know that Jerusalem will remain in Israel’s hands under any future agreement.
“Therefore it’s important not to condition the moving of the embassy on progress talks with the Palestinians, who are very far from the word peace – and instead incite hate and violence.”
Likud MK Yehudah Glick told that delegation of parliamentarians about the importance of recognizing that Jerusalem is part of Israel.
“We do not need the recognition of the world to Jerusalem, the world needs it,” Glick said.
“Every leader has a choice, he can chose whether he wants to be a Pharaoh or a Cyrus.* Every president, every leader can chose – he can chose to be part of the Godly historical events that are happening right now.”
Those who do, “will become part of eternity. If you decide not to, you are forgotten in the history of the world,” Glick said.
Glick later said that the president should be given the benefit of the doubt.
“At least he was humble enough to say he may not succeed,” Glick told website Breaking Israel News.
“We all want peace. Real peace will be when the world recognizes Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Trump said he would recognize this, and we expect him to do it. I don’t think that transferring the embassy should happen after we achieve peace, but as part of achieving peace. Any delay will not get us closer.”
Jerusalem city council opposition leader Fleur Hassan-Nahoum of the Yerushalmim Party said the Israeli government deserved a share of the blame for not promoting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“The transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem is not a prize or a bonus for the State of Israel, but it is a necessary step which Congress decided upon many years ago,” she said. “Trump, like all his predecessors, made the statement about moving the embassy before he was elected – and then backed away when he took office.
“However, it would be hypocritical of us to complain about the President of the United States – when our own country the State of Israel itself does not implement decisions it has taken to transfer all the ministries and government departments to the capital,” Hassan-Nahoum continued. “Unfortunately, we see how politicians speak in grandiose terms about strengthening the status of Jerusalem from the podium, but in practice very little is being done to make it happen.”
Only MK Yoel Hasson, new faction chairman of the Zionist Union, was prepared to defend Trump’s decision not to move the embassy.
Hasson said embassies moving to Jerusalem will be one of the products of a successful peace process.
“The president, like his predecessors, understood that reality is different from an election campaign,” Hasson said. “There is no doubt that every embassy should be in Jerusalem, and every Israeli government that did not persuade the world of this has failed. But Trump realized there is a historic opportunity to advance a regional peace process with dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. Any unilateral step could destroy this opportunity and add tension in the region.”
Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
* Cyrus the Great, Persian king from 560 BC; he unexpectedly told the Jews that they could return to their homeland. While he was probably motivated by the desire to have someone else rebuild Palestine, the impact on the Jews was to reinvigorate their faith and stimulate them to reconstruct the Temple in Jerusalem. The Second Temple was completed on the very site of the first Temple in 516 B.C. from Wikipedia.
As to *Pharaoh, it is possible the Egyptian ruler Mr. Glick was referring to is the ‘heretic Pharaoh’ Akhenaten, who ruled c.53 BC to 36 BC. He employed thousands of Jews as slave labour for his great building projects. He was also one of the first monotheists and wanted to convert all in his kingdom to monotheism so may have influenced Jews who did not finalise the form of the Torah and write it down until c. 70 CE.
But this is speculation.