Donald Trump’s long angry acceptance speech reaffirmed the Republican nominee’s obstinate refusal to back off from any one of the controversial positions he staked out during his campaign. Except for one, Israel. He’s done a long crawl-back on that one, unnoticed by the mainstream media. Let’s see:
–He’s called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and has never backed off from that;
–He’s described immigrants as violent criminals, a claim he reaffirmed last night;
–He’s said he would build a “great border wall” on the border with Mexico and said it again last night;
–He’s said that “thousands and thousands” in Jersey City cheered the fall of the World Trade Center and never backed off that crazy idea;
–He’s said that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake and never backed off from that wise but heterodox view;
–He has said that NATO is obsolete because members aren’t paying their fair share, and he has stuck to that position.
–He denigrated the heroism of Senator John McCain, and never apologized or backed off.
–He questioned the official story on the death of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster in 1993, and not backed away.
But then there’s this. Back in late winter Trump said he was going to be neutral in his position on Israel and Palestine so he could negotiate that deal of deals as president:
If I’m going to be president, I’d rather be in the position, because I will try the best I can, and I’m a very good dealmaker, believe me, to try and solve that puzzle. You’re not going to solve it if you’re going to be on one side or another. Everyone understands that. If I’m going to solve the problem, I want to go in with a clean slate.
He also shocked Israel supporters by saying that Israel should help pay for the American defense budget, not the other way around!
There was huge pushback on those positions, challenges on the Sunday talk shows, and . . . Trump backed off both positions in his speech to the Israel lobby group AIPAC in March.
When I’m president, believe me, I will veto any attempt by the UN to impose its will on the Jewish state. You see, I know about deal-making — that’s what I do. . .
We know Israel is willing to deal. Israel has been trying to sit down at the negotiating table, without pre-conditions, for years. . .
When I become President, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on Day One. I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately.
Notice: Trump backpedaled completely. Having made the simple point that you have to be evenhanded — that wasn’t good enough for the lobby. Now the Republican Party platform all but awards the West Bank to Israel, and last night in his speech Trump mentioned Israel briefly and favorably. No talk of neutrality going in and the dealmaker making deals.
[W]e must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism and doing it now, doing it quickly. We’re going to win. We’re going to win fast. This includes working with our greatest ally in the region, the state of Israel.
Trump’s backing off has had a pronounced effect. Sheldon Adelson and other Israel hawks have gotten on board with the New York real estate mogul. Newt Gingrich informs us that Adelson will work “hard” for Trump because Hillary Clinton will “be a disaster . . . for the survival of the state of Israel.” A message that Hillary Clinton is already fighting, in her latest ad:
This is the power of the Israel lobby. Mr. Independent has challenged mainstream thinking in countless areas, and when the flak came, altered not one bit. But when the Israel lobby started coming after him, he dropped the challenge. This shows that supporting Israel is a sacred cow. And Trump got his reward. A few people walked out on him at the AIPAC speech, but most listened, and now he’s getting Israel lobby money. The lobby is also a discursive force; the press isn’t giving him any more pushback on this issue. Because he caved in.
And they’re not covering it either.
Thanks to Adam Horowitz.