Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Thank You, Mr. President

PLO Office in Washington (WSJ)
First let me restate the obvious. (Something I have done many times.) Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are suffering.  The optics of which point to Israel as an oppressive occupier as the cause. But let me hasten to add the less obvious - but no less true fact. Israel is not at fault. They do what must be done for security reasons. Which ends up being oppressive to Palestinians.

The people that should really shoulder the blame for Palestinian oppression are their leaders. Espicially in the more militant terrorist wing of Hamas (and other Jihadist groups) that continually terrorize innocent Israeli civilians  randomly in a variety of ways including suicide bombings over the years. 

Anyone with half a brain should realize this. Only those that purposely blind themselves to this clear and obvious fact (or plain old fashioned antisemites) could blame Israel for Palestinian suffering. 

None of this is new. But it needs to be repeated as often as possible against the backdrop of a world narrative that blames Israel for all the troubles in the Middle East.

I also bring it up in another context. According to the Wall Street Journal the Trump administration has just announced it will be closing the PLO office in Washington for its lack of willingness to come to the peace table. 

This follows a reduction of aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of how they used it. A lot of that money was paid to families that lost children that  ‘martyred’ themselves trying to kill as many innocent Jews as possible in suicide bombings or other violent attacks. All in the cause of trying to liberate Palestine from the Jews.

I’m not sure how the liberal element sees this development. Perhaps they see it as yet another nail in the coffin of a ‘two state solution’ where Palestinians would have a sovereign state living side by side with Israel in exchange for an end to all hostilities.  

I too used to be a fan of this as the only viable solution to the conflict. I still would be if I believed that Palestinians would – or even could - honor such a commitment. But they have shown no such ability in light of PA conflict with Hamas. 

I even question whether they ever really did have such a commitment in their heart of hearts considering how they actually view Israel. Which is as a group of illegitimate European colonizers that have no legitimate right to their land. I believe that their leadership (and many Palestinians in the street) have as an ultimate goal to take all of their land back by any means necessary. 

What happened in Gaza after it was handed over to the Palestinians is a demonstration of that kind of resolve. The only difference between the PA and Hamas is in tactics.

I don’t know how to make life better for Israelis or Palestinians. But as  much promise as a two  state solution once offered, it cannot be taken seriously anymore. It has become increasingly clear that under current conditions - giving Palestinians the West Bank would – sooner or later - result in more terror and bloodshed against Jews in Israel And it would make Israel’s security goals virtually impossible to meet.

Which brings me to the Trump administration. I think they see this in exactly the same way I do. And I for one applaud them for doing something about it. There have been some very positive changes in  US policy with respect to Israel that I would have never predicted. 

Aside from the two things just mentioned there was the fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A move that everyone feared would cause a massive wave of violence by Palestinians. That never materialized. All the angst over it (including my own) proved to be unwarranted. Life goes on there as it was prior to that – other than expression of anger over it by Palestinians leadership.

Then there was the Trump administration’s cancellation of that terrible nuclear deal with Iran. One that everyone warned would bring back Iranian resolve to build the ‘bomb’. That hasn’t happened either. Instead the current Islamist regime there is teetering on collapse. Their economy is in free-fall. 

Iran wasn’t doing that well before Trump reimposed sanctions. But their demise has been accelerated by it. The typical (non fundamentalist) Iranian in the street blames their own government. You no longer hear ‘Death to America’in the streets. You here ‘Death to their clerics!’ We’ll see what happens. But so far so good.

Than there was the administration announcement that they would stop funding UNRWA  - the UN relief agency that helps Palestinian refugees.  As Nikky Haley put it:
The countries that we give money to, do they believe what we believe? Are they still actually wanting to be our partner and work with us? If they’re not and shouting ‘Death to America’ why would we give them a single penny? And so you are seeing the efforts to defunding those things that are not helpful to us and not in the United States’ interest.” 
UNRWA can stay there, and we will be a donor if it reforms what it does. If it goes and makes sure that they are not doing this teachings in textbooks , if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering with them.”  
Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton has also just announced that the US will sanction the  International Criminal Court of Justice if it takes up cases brought against Israel by the PA The US sees this as a blatant attempt to discredit Israel with a one sided argument about Israel’s oppressive security tactics. Bolton said that any disagreements should be dealt with in negotiations, not in the International Court of Justice. By taking Israel to the ICC it is a sign that the PA is not interested in good faith negotiations. The US is not interested in supporting the ICC under such circumstances.

Let us not forget that the aforementioned UN Ambassador to the UN, Nikky Haley is the best thing to happen to the UN in decades Especially as it relates to Israel. And she is a Trump appointee.

And now this from the Jewish Press:  
Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” offering an inside look at the Trump presidency, claims that the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was behind the clandestine alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia – a move he advanced against the advice of more experienced, senior White House officials, namely Defense Secretary James Mattis, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
According to Woodward, Kushner began pushing for a Tel Aviv– Riyadh axis almost as soon as President Trump had taken office in early 2017, proposing that the President’s first foreign trip would include stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel. 
The fact is that relations between the United States and Israel have never been better. This is reflected by a high approval rating of the Trump administration by Israelis (49% strongly approve; 23% slightly approve). 

Looking strictly at the US relationship with Israel, one would have to admit that it has never been better.  Although I’m equally sure that the left will vehemently deny that - and spin all of the aforementioned positives into negatives. I obviously strongly disagree with them. In fact I believe we ought to recognize that and  thank the President for his strong support.

Which is why I said it is so very hard to condemn him. Which I still do.  Donald J. Trump is not fit to hold this high office for an abundance of both moral ethical reasons. But that does not mean we shouldn’t acknowledge the good he has done. And I certainly do.