Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Palestine Square will be highlighting candidates’ statements and declarations on Israel, Palestine and related matters, such as the Iran nuclear agreement.
For our fourth entry in the Special Series on the 2016 Presidential Election:
Republican – Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump:
Vote for Benjamin
Why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thought it would be worthwhile to film an endorsement from Donald Trump is anyone’s guess. Back in January 2013, the Donald praised “Bibi” in a Hebrew-subtitled appeal to Israeli voters: “Vote for Benjamin. Terrific guy. Terrific leader. Great for Israel.”
Trump’s foray into Israeli politics makes him the only candidate on either side of the field with a record of taking sides between Israeli politicians vying for office. While a President Trump would likely have a amiable relationship with any Israeli government, one may surmise that Trump would get along particularly well with “Bibi;” who may avail himself of Trump’s derision toward Mexicans to convey his own contempt of Palestinians (albeit expressed in more tailored language).
Akin to “terrific” for ideas favored by Trump, the mogul employs “disaster” as a single-shot substitute for detailing (or even offering perfunctory explanation) his opposition to any policy proposal. Thus the Iran deal is a “disaster.”
On the off-chance Trump ventures a rationale, he’s quickly acquiring a habit of invention followed by reference to unnamed individuals who supposedly back him up. Speaking to CNN, Trump stated that the Iran deal bound the U.S. and the Islamic Republic in a defense alliance akin to NATO:
“You know, there is something in the Iran deal that people I don’t think really understand or know about. And nobody is ever to explain it that if somebody attacks Iran, we have to come to their defense.
“And I’m saying this, that includes Israel? And most people say, yes. They don’t have exclusion for us here. So, if Israel attacks Iran according to that deal, I believe, the way it reads unless they have a codicil or they have something to it, that we have to fight with Iran against Israel.”
Trump’s words convey not an incorrect inference but absolute fiction. There is nothing in the agreement that stipulates American-Iranian military cooperation let alone a U.S. military commitment that has historically been reserved for America’s most long-standing allies. Akin to Trump’s reading of the 14th Amendment (that it doesn’t confer birth citizenship for the children of “illegal immigrants”), he similarly spoke about “most people” backing an interpretation entirely out of sync with the plain language of the text.
Risking Danger for Israel
Speaking of made-up-realities, Trump combined imagination with his panache for self-praise when he boasted about being grand marshal of the 2014 Celebrate Israel parade in New York City “at a time when it was quite dangerous to do that” and “a pretty tough time for Israel.” It would be interesting to see the evidence that cheering Israel in America is a hazard.
Not Thrilled About Aid to Palestine
When asked about U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, Trump veered away from bombastic declarations and seemed to resign himself to the ever unfortunate situation of U.S. support for Palestinians; exhibiting no respect or proper conduct, Palestinians have managed to parlay their extraordinary clout to “take advantage” of American goodwill by pocketing U.S. dollars for their own ends.
“I’m not exactly thrilled by it. It’s obvious. We have to help people that respect us, that want things to be done and properly done. Not just there, we’re giving money to all sorts of groups and people and countries that take advantage of the United States, so it’s something that I’m not thrilled about.”
Trump Tel Aviv
Any candidate can claim that Israel owns a part of their heart, but only Trump has ever owned a part of Israel.
Years back, the Donald bought property in Tel Aviv-suburb Ramat Gan with plans to build Israel’s tallest building to be called Trump Plaza Tower. Before construction started, he abandoned the project and sold the development plot to an Israeli company.
It’s ironic that Trump now accuses President Barack Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry of having “sold out” Israel on the Iran deal as Trump is the only candidate to have literally sold Israel to the highest bidder.
On President Obama, “Enemy of Israel”
Speaking to talk radio host Michael Savage, Trump expressed his puzzlement over Jewish-American support for Obama:
“I have many Jewish friends that support Obama and I say, ‘Why?’ and they can’t explain why. They support him, they give him money, they give him campaign contributions. This is the worst enemy of Israel.”
Not too long ago, Trump sang a different tone. Back in 2012, when Israel and Hamas appeared set for another war, Trump took to Twitter to commend the president’s role in preventing an outbreak of greater violence:
It’s now a well-worn joke that Trump has a fondness for “huge”: huge bank account, huge buildings, huge popularity, et cetera. And huge love for Israel. Why support Israel 100% when you can 1,000%?
In February, the right-wing Jewish-American newspaper the Algemeiner awarded Trump its “Liberty Award for his contributions to US-Israel relations.” Upon acceptance of the award, Trump told the gathered assembly, “We love Israel, we will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1000 percent, it will be there forever.”
From One Casino Mogul to Another
Trump reached out via Twitter to Republican super donor Sheldon Adelson, a widely more successful proprietor of Las Vegas slot machines and known for his dogmatic and extreme support for Israel; Adelson dismisses the Palestinians as “southern Syrians” with no claim to statehood. Fidelity to a hawkish pro-Israel line is a prerequisite for candidates seeking Adelson’s financial backing. While Trump has bragged on the campaign trail that “I’m really rich” and does not need donors, he appeared to be soliciting donations from Adelson:
Who’s Better Than Trump?
In an interview with the Algemeiner after announcing his candidacy, Trump spoke about love at birth.
“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me. The rest of them are all talk, no action. They’re politicians. I’ve been loyal to Israel from the day I was born. My father, Fred Trump, was loyal to Israel before me. The only one that’s going to give Israel the kind of support it needs is Donald Trump.”
Check out the rest of our Special Series on 2016 Presidential Election