Thursday, November 10, 2016

Of Trump, Protests, and Israel

Thousands protest Trump's election (ABC News)
It’s really hard to talk about anything else right now. Everybody seems to have just one thing on their mind – President elect Trump. Who he is; how he got there; and where are we going.

One thing that is a bit troubling is all of the protests being held in  American cities. They are protesting Democracy. The election was held and their candidate lost. No matter how much they hate the winner, he is now the President elect and will shortly become their President as well.

Now I have no problem with protest. It is the right of every American to speak their minds freely. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are two of America’s cardinal principles. So if people want to express how much they hate their new President, (and I fully understand why - and even agree with some of their complaints) they have a guaranteed right to do so. But what they are absolutely wrong about is their shouts of ‘Not my President’.

He IS their President. That is how it works here in America. People vote and the winner gets to be President – OF ALL THE PEOPLE! Even those that hate him. They can voice their opposition. That’s fine. But one of the hallmarks of this great nation is the peaceful transfer of power. I just hope that these protests don’t get violent because someone will get hurt. Unfortunately there are some protesters that are actually calling for violence. I heard one of them saying something like ‘People have to die if there is going to be any meaningful change’. This crosses the line from peaceful demonstration to inciting violence. I pray that none of this goes that far. If it does, than they ought to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I am as concerned as anyone else about what comes next. If we know anything about Trump – it’s that we know nothing about him. I don’t think too many people have a clue what’s in store for the American people - or the world - for the next 4 years. Every word out of Trump’s mouth was designed to win the election. Truth had little to do with it. I don’t think anything he said can be relied upon. What we can rely upon somewhat is who he hangs out with. One can indeed judge people by the company they keep.

Thus far the people that have supported him are people with values mostly similar to my own. As I have said many times, my political perspective runs pretty much in the center –leaning right in most cases. And when it comes to Israel The stronger someone’s feels about Israel’s relationship with the US, the more I like them.

The company Trump keeps are people that view Israel in an extremely favorable light. Their support will be far less conditional than it is under the outgoing administration.  They will not tell Israel to do what they think is good for them. They understand that Israel has its own leaders and priorities and has the right to act in ways that best serve their own interests.

Three of Trump’s closest advisers are Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich,  and Mike Pence. They fit the description I just made. It would not surprise if Gingrich is given a high cabinet position. Perhaps Secretary of State. To the extent that Trump is clueless about foreign policy, Gingrich is his polar opposite. One may disagree with his approach or his political perspective. Especially if you are on the left. But no one can say that Gingrich doesn’t know what he’s talking about. 

Newt Gingrich is one of Israel’s strongest supporters. Under his leadership in the State Department (should he be given that position) the relationship between the US and Israel will change from being strained to one of warmth and closeness.  Israel’s enemies will come to know that - if they don’t already. Gone will be the pressure to make one-sided concessions. The Palestinians will now have to make some too – if they want to have any kind of a relationship with the US.

As for Pence, my guess is that he will have a far greater role in his President’s administration than any other Vice President ever had in theirs – in all of US history! Gone will be the personal friction between the leaders of our two nations. Although Trump’s predecessor had an excellent relationship with Israel, he did not have such a great one with its prime minister. 

That is about to change. We will now begin an era of mutual respect and genuine friendship between – not only our two nations – but between its leaders.  If Netanyahu were to address a joint session of Congress under Trump, the standing ovations he received last time would include the Executive Branch as well.

With a American foreign policy guided by people like Gingrich and Pence - Israel’s relationship with the most powerful nation on earth will only improve. What about the Arab nations? If they want America’s support that will just have adjust to this new reality. What about the Palestinians? Same thing. No more free lunch to them without getting something back. I am particularly heartened by a brief speech Pence gave to Trump supporters in Israel during the campaign. This is the kind of support that makes me proud to be both a Jew and an American.