America last: Trump embraces the Palestinian game
Posted May 16, 2017 08:32 AM by Daniel Horowitz
President Donald Trump meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Evan Vucci | AP Images
What better way to put America last than to pour our foreign policy capital into propping up a new terror state in Judea and Samaria? And to add insult to injury, to do so while Israel celebrates the 50th anniversary of the miracle of the Six Day War – when they won back Judea and Samaria in a defensive war after those areas were illegally occupied by Jordan (the original Palestinian state) for 18 years. (Listen to my podcast on the hoax of a Palestinian state.)
Nothing embodies the failed swamp of foreign policy more than the obsession with the Palestinians. Yet it appears that the Trump administration has embraced this obsession worse than even establishment Republicans would have. In some cases, the administration’s views have become indistinguishable from those of Democrat Party foreign policy officials.
This is about so much more than Israel. When a president falls into the Palestinian obsession, that means he fundamentally doesn’t understand the problems with the Islamic world. That means he doesn’t understand Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood. And pursuing the ultimate nation-building quest – creating a new Arab state in the heart of Judea – seamlessly flows into continuing our involvement to prop up other Sharia governments. We are definitely seeing that with Trump’s recent comments about the need to help the people of Afghanistan, clearly a shout-out to McMaster’s terrible policy of entrenching us further in that insufferable civil war without any discernable, winnable strategy.
In March, I listed a number of disturbing trends in Trump’s Middle East policy. Things have only deteriorated in the ensuing weeks:
- PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas was invited to the White House as one of the first foreign leaders to be hosted by the new president. Even though he’s a lifelong terrorist who embodies everything we are fighting, Trump treated him like a legitimate state leader and pledged to jump-start the repugnant “peace” talks. Some might take solace in Trump’s admonition of the PLO for paying the families of terrorists who kill Israelis. But like everything with this administration, watch the actual (policy) fire and not the (rhetorical) smoke. The PLO leadership immediately rejected the demand. So now what is Trump doing? Continuing to pressure Israel. Like his predecessors, he’s obsessing with the peace process as an end in itself. Other administrations also warned the Palestinians to stop the terror, but knowing it will never happen, they kept strong-arming Israel into giving up Judea and Samaria. It doesn’t help that a longtime friend of the president, New York liberal billionaire Ronald Lauder, is close with Abbas and is pressuring Trump to forge ties with him.
- Trump’s very first foreign trip is to Saudi Arabia. That sends a horrible message. While he is also visiting Israel, that trip is contaminated by his equal treatment and recognition of terrorist Mahmoud Abbas. He is visiting him on land that never belonged to a distinct Muslim Arab people, always belonged to the Jews, and was won back by Israel 50 years to the day before Trump’s visit.
- The promise to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem fell by the wayside pretty quickly. Even during confirmation hearings, Secretary of Defense James Mattis refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. But what’s worse than not moving the embassy? Dangling the move in front of the Israelis as a bargaining chip to get them to create a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. As Jordan Schachtel reminds us, that is exactly what Sec. of State Tillerson is doing. Which is why Bibi Netanyahu is now moving away from his request to move the embassy. If that is going to be used as blackmail, who needs it? Can’t say we didn’t warn you about Tillerson.
- From Trump’s communications director to the Secretary of State, administration officials have been referring to “Palestine” as if it’s a legitimate entity. Israeli media is reporting that administration officials allegedly referred to the Western Wall as outside Israel’s jurisdiction. These might have been rogue left-wing holdovers at the East Jerusalem consulate, but Netanyahu’s left-wing opponent in Israel, the one Obama tried to get elected, now feels empowered to pressure him into making further concessions.
- According to public media accounts and what I’m hearing from sources within the administration, NSC Director H.R. McMaster has become the most important voice on foreign policy and national security. He represents everything in the swamp voters desired to drain. He essentially wants to get us involved in every Islamic civil war, yet at the same time bring in refugees and go soft on Islam. It is precisely this mentality of worrying about the Arab street, Arab refugees, and Arab nation-building first that has thrown Israel under the bus and, more importantly, places American interests last. He has Islam and foreign policy exactly backwards. It’s no coincidence that the turn in policy towards Israel coincides with the rise of McMaster.
- Also coinciding with the rise of McMaster, Trump has declined to sign an executive order designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group. It’s no wonder; McMaster is now filling the top NSC positions with pro-Hamas technocrats, such as Kris Bauman, who blamed Netanyahu for inciting Palestinian terror. Some might point to the good work U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has done on Israel in the U.N., but if Trump is going to continue to stock his administration with those who love the Muslim Brotherhood and determine policy outcomes, Haley’s work at the U.N. is just ceremonial.
Amidst all the incoherent campaign statements Trump made, it’s not like we didn’t warn you about the fine print. Trump can be a fighter when he wants to, but what does he actually want and what does he believe? Trump had his lunch eaten on the budget and the border wall by a party out of power, but he is suddenly able to play hardball when negotiating against Israel. Conservatives can either continue with the soft bigotry of low expectations and explain away these problems by noting that “at least he’s better than Obama,” or we can empower our allies within the administration by demanding a course correction.
What is so disturbing about Trump’s newfound obsession with the Palestinians is that this is one issue on which all Republicans – even the establishment – are on the right side. Thus, the fact that there is enough momentum within this administration to move Trump to the left on this issue demonstrates just how far off the rails this presidency is headed. Imagine, on issues where there is so much less positive energy among Republicans, such as free markets, health care, values, and cutting spending, how much pressure will move him past the equilibrium of conservative direction.
Furthermore, there is something very nostalgic about this issue, particularly for Bible-believing conservatives on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, a miracle of biblical proportions. The public spat between John Kerry and Israel over where Jews can live was the last high-profile act of treachery from the Obama administration. All Republicans and conservatives spoke out with one voice about the moral absurdity of this position. Are we prepared to continue some of the same policies under our banner? If nothing else, perhaps the continuation of the “peace process” is emblematic of so much else we are seeing from President Trump: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.