Friday, November 20, 2020

Glad to See Him Go. But...

Mike Pompeo in a West Bank settlement in Israel yesterday (Arab News)
I can’t wait until it’s over. The quixotic pursuit by the President to overturn the election would be comical if it weren’t so serious. All one has to do is watch his attorney Rudy Giuliani’s recent press conferences on the subject and try not to laugh. The reality is probably funnier than any parody of it one might see on SNL. 

Let me hasten to add that anything is possible. But the probability of the President overturning the election is so low, that winning a mega-millions lottery without buying a ticket is more likely, in my view.

I will be glad to be rid of all the Trump talk on both sides. I am sick of it already. I know it’s not in his nature, but I wish the President would just concede the election and allow for a smooth transition in a graceful manner. And perhaps  more importantly tell his supporters that it’s over; to go  home; and give the President-elect a chance. Perhaps that will eventually happen. As far as I am concerned  it can’t happen soon enough.  

As much as I want this to be over, I will nevertheless miss the President’s policies with respect to Israel. A lot! 

As I have already said, I don’t think Biden will be as bad as many to my right believe he will. Even on an issue that is as close to my heart as is support for the State of Israel. He will not abandon her. He will support her as a close ally. With ‘guns and money’. And even moral support. It will be no worse than that of President he served. Which was substantial if not warm. It might even be better.

Near the end of his term, Obama’s opposition to Israel’s settlement activity moved him to allow the UN security Council to condemn her. I did not like the direction that policy was going. My hope was that a Clinton Presidency (which just about everyone thought would happen - including me) would back away from it even though I understood that that settlements would still be a contentious issue. (My own view about settlements is complex and beyond the scope of this post.)

But my fears were never realized once her opponent won the election. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Even though the then President-elect Trump had expressed strong pro Israel views, so too did all of his predecessors. But when they came into office it was business as usual. 

I was wrong. His policies were a radical change from that of all his predecessors. I liked them a lot. And still do. I need not go into detail about those polices. I've done that quite a bit in the past. What I will say however is that many so-called Middle East  experts who believed his change in policy would have dire consequences - perhaps even deadly ones for Israel and the US - ended up being totally wrong. That never happened. Israel has done just fine. She has not seen any increase in terrorism. And the US is still strongly supported by most Arab nations.

I do want to mention the latest (and probably the last) pro Israel thing that happened under the President's watch. Yesterday Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo visited the Golan Heights and a settlement in the West Bank where he announced that products produced there will be labeled ‘Made in Israel’. Truly amazing. I’m sure that most people thought this would not - could not ever happen.  

My hope is that President-elect Biden will see the wisdom of this new approach and continue to pursue it - instead of returning to the failed polices of the past. I believe that if he stays the current course Palestinians will eventually realize the futility of their old demands and accept the deal the Trump administration offed them. A deal that will pump tons of financial aid into their economy. Which would give Palestinians a path to a much improved quality of life. If they can somehow get rid of their corrupt leadership and replace it with honest - more pragmatic leaders... who knows! 

If Biden does that - it may once and forever end the narrative that it’s all Israel’s fault that West Bank Palestinians are so impoverished. 

I don’t know what the future holds. I have no clue whether Biden will see the wisdom of continuing along the pro Israel path taken by Trump. I hope he does. But I fear he will go back to the polices of the past. Which in my view will never bear any fruit.