Donald Trump’s legacy leaves behind poisoned gifts for Israel

Nadav Tamir December 2020

US President Donald Trump has lost big in the presidential election, despite denials by conspiracy theorists and fake news on both sides of the ocean, but toxic Trumpism will stay with us for a long time.

In the Israeli context, the period leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20 is especially dangerous. With nothing to lose, the Trump administration could give us more of the “poisoned gifts” he has not yet had time to give, or has had difficulty giving so far.

On Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s last visit to Israel we had an example of this, but there are many more and even more dangerous “poisoned gifts.”

The Evangelist Pompeo, who intends to run for one of the two senate seats in Kansas, sees this period as a great political opportunity to strengthen his position among his political base. After all, the Evangelicals do not want any chance of a settlement between us and the Palestinians, since such an arrangement would prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy of a “battle of Gog and Magog between the sons of light and the sons of darkness in Armageddon (Megiddo),” and its wake, with whoever remaining alive converting to Christianity because they have witnessed the return of Jesus and are convinced he is bringing salvation.

US Ambassador David Friedman, who is more of an ambassador to the Yesha Council than to the United States, also has the opportunity to break free from the barriers of the professional echelon in the State Department and assist his settler friends and his religious faith.

For Trump, who really has no ideology, unless narcissism counts, this is a time when it can be shown that he still rules and he really does not care about the implications for Israel or for the United States.

For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is no impediment to continuing to undermine bipartisan support for Israel and the connection between Israel and the Democratic Party and most of the American Jewish community, if it is possible to obtain the support of those looking to vote for Yamina Party’s Naftali Bennett, who is threatening him in the polls.

Thus, for the first time in history, we received a visit from an American official in a settlement and a declaration to abolish the separation between products made in the settlements and products made within the 1967 lines. For dessert, we received official support for the Israeli government’s unfounded claim of antisemitism by the BDS movement.

According to many polls, we learn that most Democrats and most American Jews oppose BDS, but at the same time oppose outlawing BDS, because that would violate the right to nonviolent free expression, which is unconstitutional for American liberals. (Conservatives are known to prefer the unlimited right of citizens to bear arms).

The Israeli Right is attempting to argue that those who oppose the policy of occupation and settlements in the world are traitors to their people (when it comes to Diaspora Jews) or just antisemitic (when it comes to non-Jews). This argument, which expresses a dark mental tyranny, severely harms Israeli interests, because it turns many of Israel’s true friends into enemies for the “sin” for not agreeing with elements of the right-wing government’s policies.

The connection between BDS and antisemitism sounds so ridiculous and absurd to ears that have not been exposed to the brainwashing of the Israeli government, evidenced by the many Jewish supporters of BDS. In addition, it is clear to anyone on the ground that antisemitism is the domain of their opponents on the other side of the political map, those who support white supremacy in alignment with their racism.

Abolishing the distinction between settlement products and Israeli products made within the 1967 lines will ultimately hurt Israel, because it eliminates the choice made by many of those who criticize the occupation and the settlements but support the existence of Israel within the 1967 lines or with agreed-upon territorial exchanges. Many of them will be moved to boycott any Israeli product.

ANOTHER GIFT, Jonathan Pollard’s return to Israel, is welcomed because he is not the main culprit in this affair that caused so much damage to Israeli-US relations. The main culprits were those who sent him. He was just a small fish who betrayed his country for money and offered his services to other countries. However, it is important that Israelis are aware of the opposition of so many of our friends in the United States to his release.

As someone who helped president Shimon Peres’s determined efforts to free Pollard, I know that the American intelligence community was steadfast in their opposition to his release. I also remember how during the Wye River talks in 1998, in which I participated, CIA chief George Tenet threatened to resign when Netanyahu sought Pollard’s release, in order to politically sweeten the compromises he had to make as part of the agreement on Hebron. Tenet, who was a close friend of our intelligence agencies and a strong supporter of Israel, saw the Pollard affair as a betrayal causing serious damage to the intelligence relationship with Israel.

So did American Jewry, who were harmed by the Pollard affair because they have been accused widely of dual loyalty, and as a result, for many years Jews had difficulty being accepted into US intelligence agencies and continuing to support Israel. At least it can be hoped that Netanyahu will not celebrate Pollard’s return for political gain in Israel in a way that harms important communities and supporters of Israel in the United States.

The most worrying “poisoned gifts” are those that may still be delivered to us before the inauguration of the new president. The building permits in Givat Hamatos and the apparent permit for construction in the E1 area are an attempt to block any possibility of an arrangement in Jerusalem. E1 will cut the West Bank into a northern canton and a southern canton and will prevent the integration of east Jerusalem and the holy sites for Palestinians within the Palestinian space, and Givat Hamatos will create a buffer that will cut east Jerusalem from Bethlehem and encircle Beit Safafa in Jewish neighborhoods on all sides.

All of us who believe in a two-state solution and fear the dangers to the future of Zionism in a situation where we will have to choose between being the national home of the Jewish people and being a democracy – must press Blue and White ministers to wake up.

They must prevent the steps of “creeping annexation,” which is no less dangerous than the intentions of annexation repealed by virtue of the Abraham Accords. We must avoid the presents that the most dangerous Santa Claus for Israel in modern history is still planning for us, between Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales and Christmas.

The article was published on The Jerusalem Post, 2 December 2020

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