Trump has a ‘magic moment’ in June 2017 to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Israel lobbyist tells NY synagogue

US Politics
on 14 Comments

Last night former State Department aide David Makovsky talked about Israel policy under Donald Trump in the breathtaking sanctuary of the Central Synagogue in New York. Makovsky works at the Israel-lobby-group the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a spinoff of AIPAC) and expressed three very Israel-centric ideas: Here’s how you could move the US embassy to Jerusalem with a minimum of violence; BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel) is a threat because of the rising numbers of minorities in the U.S. and American Jews have to come up with a Birthright-like program for US minorities; Benjamin Netanyahu as the “leader of all Jews” is expected by American Jews to fight antisemitism in the U.S.

You can move the embassy to Jerusalem.

It is a “historic injustice” that the American embassy is not in Jerusalem, Makovsky. It should have been placed in Western Jerusalem long ago, but the U.S. has honored the original UN partition resolution of 1947 which established Jerusalem and Bethlehem as a corpus separatum from the two states the UN carved out (to no effect). There’s a way to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Makovsky said, but the issue is how much violence it would cause.

There’s a risk. Could you minimize the risk in one or two ways? A, you do diplomacy by the Secretary of State, you go to Arab caitals, and say, we’re talking about West Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem, we don’t expect you to endorse it but all we’re asking you is not to fan the flames, so this doesn’t become a security issue for American diplomatic personnel in Pakistan or Afghanistan… so we don’t want to risk Americans in this regard…

But it could be that Trump likes shock therapy. I’m just going to do it because– here’s the magic moment that American Jews haven’t focused on yet, which is that Obama signed the last waiver December 1st, 2016. Guess when that six-month waiver expires? June 1, 2017, 5 days before the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war and the unification of Jerusalem. If you were one of his political advisers you might say, Mr President, the symbolism is irreversible, you don’t sign that next waiver. I think this issue could come up soon. But here again… how it’s going to be configured to minimize the risk– to me, it’s important.

BDS as a black issue.

Makovsky said that BDS poses little threat to Israel economically. But he’s visited over 125 campuses in recent years and BDS appeals to students of color.

There’s a shifting demographic in this country. Who knows whether under Trump, how that’s going to change. The Pew research poll shows that 43 percent of millennials are not white… I am concerned that Israel is losing on these campuses– that the minorities are able to hook up with SJP, the Students for Justice in Palestine. They’re not two-staters, they never talk about Israel at all. My challenge to all of you is to help come up with– foundations like the Singer foundation and other foundations– to come up a big bold idea like Birthright. I don’t want to use the word Birthright for minorities because it has certain associations…..

But identify minorities on the 50 top campuses in this country. They might be Hispanic students, Black Students Association, LGBT, whatever it is… I’m going to bring their leaders to Israel and I’m going to show one thing, Israel is not a bumper sticker, it’s complicated. And I want them to come back to their friends in the Black Students Association, the Hispanic Students Association, LGBT, and say, I went over there, I see, they have a raucous debate over there, it’s complicated, and here are the shades of gray. How is it that minority students do not have a way to hook up with Israel? What are we doing? I think the minority piece of this is huge.

Makovsky gave an example of minority attitudes: He has a game where he asks students to imagine a Middle East Mt Rushmore. Who are the heroes to be carved in granite– name two Arabs and two Jews.

All I can say is when you mention Mt. Rushmore, they say, “You mention Mt Rushmore because Israel stole the land  from the Palestinians, because they’re a minority, we’re a minority.” That was not the case. Israel was the first country to be voted on by the United Nations.

Netanyahu is the leader of all of the Jews.

Moderator Abigail Pogrebin said she was concerned about the rising expression of anti-Semitism in the United States; she quoted Abe Foxman saying the sewer covers have come off; and she said Jews wonder what Trump will do about this and often invoke the name of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Makovsky said it’s ultimately Netanyahu’s job.

Look it’s obviously concerning… I think if God forbid it would intensify, the same prime minister who goes to France and says I’m the leader of all Jews and you know—people, American Jews will expect the prime minister, not just Jared Kushner, to speak out.

Right now obviously he’s loath to get into domestic politics, especially when I think we would all agree that the early phase of their relationship [Trump-Netanyahu] will be a honeymoon. They’ll both kind of say how terrible the Iran deal was and they’ll talk about jihadism or American retrenchment. I mean, there will be common bonding between them– Netanyahu will want that. But if God forbid things would worsen, I think people would  have that expectation. I don’t think that’s where we’re now at, at all. I do I think American Jews are right to be vigilant.

A couple comments. It’s plain that Makovsky was chosen as a senior advisor to John Kerry on the peace process because he has solid-gold bona fides in the Israel lobby, and Kerry had to keep the Jewish establishment happy. And look how little they achieved in that peace process: No Palestinian state for nearly 70 years now, since the partition resolution.

The lobby is losing power. Makovsky is expressing generational attitudes that are being swept out to sea, and Makovsky doesn’t realize how far off shore he already is, particularly in his view that Netanyahu could speak for American Jews. Religion plays a role here: Makovsky and his very military brother Michael, who spoke at another NY synagogue on the same topic 10 days ago, are religiously observant Jews who live in a bubble of Israel-love.

Makovsky said something else that bespeaks his bubbled perspective. When Pogrebin expressed dismay at Trump Pentagon pick General James Mattis’s statement three years ago that American forces pay a price across the Middle East for the U.S. special relationship with Israel and Israel is in danger of becoming an “apartheid” state, Makovsky said that Mattis and General David Petraeus before him were guilty of “localitis” — giving voice to “crazy” ideas so as to play to the home crowd in Arab capitals in their job as head of CENTCOM, US Central Command.

This was highly patronizing. But Makovsky also contradicted himself, and affirmed the wisdom of Mattis’s statements. In his Jerusalem comments, he made it clear that American diplomats could die if the U.S. chooses to move its embassy to Jerusalem. I.e., these Arabs care about Palestinians, and nothing will remove that concern, as Kerry said the other day. And secondly, Makovsky said that the real incentive for a peace deal now is on the part of Jews who want to stave off the reality of “a binational state.” Netanyahu knows of this danger, Makovsky says, and he uses the Americans as the heavy to temporize his right wing. When the heavy is gone, and Trump says, do whatever you like, Israel is going to get ever closer to Mattis’s reality.

The charge of localitis can surely be more accurately leveled at Makovsky and Pogrebin and Central Synagogue Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, who started the night off with parochialism:

“We’re all in this room because we have one kind of burning question, but Is it good for the Jews?… Where is the Trump administration going to be in relationship to Israel and other Jewish issues.”

Maybe that’s why the older crowd was there. I imagine many younger Jews hear Buchdahl with jaws dropping at the selfishness.

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14 Responses

  1. Jasonius Maximus
    December 15, 2016, 7:56 pm

    Makovsky is right. It IS time to move the Embassy to Jerusalem!

    He’s also right about the fact that the symbolism in doing so 5 days before the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war would be “irreversible”. Just not in the way he and his fellow Zionists think.

    It would symbolically, officially and undeniably mark the death of any Two State agreement and broadcast to the entire world the existing reality of a single Apartheid Israel. No amount of spin to the contrary will be able reverse it. America might just be able to tame, bully and bribe critical Arab states into acquiescence and Israel might just be able to quash a massive Palestinian uprising and any violent backlash, but they would merely be cauterizing a fatal wound. The rest of the free world will not be able to ignore the reality that has existed for some time now that Israel, from the River to the Sea, is a single Apartheid state ruling an Arab majority entirely denied of land, resources, citizenship and human rights.

    The UNSC will be flooded with resolutions and condemnations, the ICC will have no choice but to bring charges against Israel and one by one EU states and International institutions will follow with embargoes, sanctions and divestment. US vetoes and bullying in the EU will only protect Israel to a point before it is officially declared and made a pariah state by the rest of the world.

    So by all means, move the Embassy to Jerusalem and hurry up about it! Let’s officially put an end this farce that has dragged on for decades under the false pretense of “peace”, let’s get the glaringly obvious reality and dirty facts on the ground out into the open and move on to the only logical and inevitable conclusion left on the table…

  2. broadside
    December 15, 2016, 8:13 pm

    “Israel is not a bumper sticker, it’s complicated.”

    Ah. One of the ol’ reliables, being trotted out, how complicated this occupation is.

    Actually, a bumper sticker is exactly what it is: No Justice, No Peace.

  3. yonah fredman
    December 15, 2016, 9:40 pm

    Right wing white american antisemitism in my lifetime: there was a man named George lincoln Rockwell who made my mother nervous on TV when I was a little kid. (50 plus years later in retrospect in adulthood the fear seems to have been ungrounded, although a nonhistory buff whose family fled europe by the skin of their teeth in 1941, I forgive her fear.) George wallace never voiced jew hatred that I heard, although my father relayed to me rumors that his obvious race hatred extended to jews as well. From George wallace til today, the primary national star was pat buchanan, his speech to the Republican convention in 92 was scary and his deep seated Catholic right wing nationalism was apparent to anyone who read his writings and the joy he took in shocking sensibilities was not reassuring revealing a populism that might go awry.

    It would be silly to pretend that these were the major stories of race friction in the US before the advent of obama. Poppa Bush’s campaign in 88 featured black Willie Horton revolving door freedom from jail on a loop, which revealed the true racial wedge issue in america.

    (It is also silly to ignore where the focus of Jewish gentile American friction has been since the late 60’s and that has been primarily from black radicals like kwame toure and the candidacy of jesse Jackson. because of the predominance of farrakhan in this aspect of friction, I think labeling this friction as coming from the left is a mislabeling, because farrakhan and the nation of islam is a distinctly conservative reactionary group and further the nationalism of kwame toure for example is distinctly illiberal and nonuniversalist, understandable as a reaction to a history of exploitation, but still distinctly illiberal. The intersection of antizionism and black antisemitism has been quite apparent and would be the natural focus to those whose issue is opposing zionism. But the friction is a natural feature of urban societies where economic and political battles for power and turf, and toxic relations between tenant and landlord, store owner and customer, are seemingly inevitable or certainly not unusual.)

    The trump campaign has surely taken the sewer cover off the sewer. It may be selfish to focus on spencer’s seig heil, when trump’s anti muslim and anti bad hombre rhetoric is the true problem.

    Joke: young boy: grampa, grampa, Mickey mantle hit three home runs today.
    Grandfather: what this Mickey mantle did was it good for the jews or bad for the jews.

    Phil Weiss attends David makovsky speech with venom to israel in his heart, so when the rabbi begins with “good for the jews or bad for the jews” he views from the outside and calls it selfish. I’m sure most of the crowd realizes the trump problem is much deeper than the threat to the jews, but I assume most do not come to hear makovsky wishing to bury him and in general agreement with his aipac stance or at least deep sympathy for Israel’s existence. To them the Jewish angle on trump is the issue of the evening and the antizionist in their midst is an enemy of sorts.

    • Mooser
      December 17, 2016, 12:03 pm

      Not bad, “Yonah”! Takes 11 clicks on my mouse-wheel to get past it.

  4. DaBakr
    December 15, 2016, 11:15 pm

    nobody that I am aware of in israel or the US is discussing any plans to build or move an embassy to any part of jerusalem on the east side of the green line. it would be in ‘west’ jerusalem . typical israeli/jew/zionist hating hysteria.

    • John O
      December 16, 2016, 4:42 am


      Well, Trump’s pick for new ambassador to Israel just talks about “Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem”:

      Which side of the green line the embassy gets built on is totally irrelevant – and you know it.

    • eljay
      December 16, 2016, 7:24 am

      || @aB: nobody that I am aware of in israel or the US is discussing any plans to build or move an embassy to any part of jerusalem on the east side of the green line. it would be in ‘west’ jerusalem . typical israeli/jew/zionist hating hysteria. ||

      “‘west’ jerusalem” is not a legitimate part of (Partition-borders) Israel. Typical hateful / immoral / (war) criminal Zio-supremacist bullshit.

  5. Talkback
    December 16, 2016, 4:36 am

    Another hysterical accusation of hate from a “typical israeli/jew/zionist”.

  6. Citizen
    December 16, 2016, 4:38 pm

    My, what did the camera capture there, in that photo of David Makovsky?

  7. JLewisDickerson
    December 16, 2016, 5:03 pm

    RE: “There’s a risk. Could you minimize the risk in one or two ways? A, you do diplomacy by the Secretary of State, you go to Arab capitals, and say, we’re talking about West Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem . . .” ~ Makovsky

    MY COMMENT: Whoa, hold up dude! Israel insists that Jerusalem is indivisible (not West or East), yet the Secretary of State would seem to be partitioning it. What gives? Is it to be partitioned in perpetuity?

  8. JLewisDickerson
    December 16, 2016, 5:05 pm

    RE: “We’re all in this room because we have one kind of burning question, but Is it good for the Jews?… Where is the Trump administration going to be in relationship to Israel and other Jewish issues.” (said Buchdahl) Maybe that’s why the older crowd was there. I imagine many younger Jews hear Buchdahl with jaws dropping at the selfishness. ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Out of selfishness or not, I wholeheartedly support American Jews repeatedly and persistently asking themselves whether, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, Trump’s moving the embassy to Jerusalem (West, East or Unified) is really “good for the (American and other) Jews”.

  9. W.Jones
    December 16, 2016, 8:35 pm

    hypnotic eyes?

  10. Nevada Ned
    December 17, 2016, 1:18 pm

    This sorry charade has been playing out for decades:

    Congress passes a resolution urging the Administration to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

    The Administration doesn’t move the embassy.

    Next year, same story.

    I recall, in the late 1980’s, a Jewish friend who growled

    “I’ll tell them where they can stick the stoopid embassy!”

  11. shaun patrick
    December 20, 2016, 12:18 am

    There was a recent article in Time magazine which said how many more times does Netanyahu have to say he will never agree to a Palestinian state from his words in the last election to his now famous, i You Tube clip boasting he killed the Oslo accord and the article summarized what is know obvious and that is there will be no Palestine that dream is dead and buried so lets move on as quickly as possible. Israel will come to understand the meaning of the ancient proverb which says “if the Gods want to ruin a man they will give him everything he asked for” and Israel you asked for this and that is a Palestinian majority .

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