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Money talks as Trump does u-turn on Israel

US Politics
on 29 Comments

The grubby underside of US electoral politics is on show once again as the Democratic and Republican candidates prepare to fight it out for the presidency. And it doesn’t get seamier than the battle to prove how loyal each candidate is to Israel.

New depths are likely to be plumbed this week at the Republican convention in Cleveland, as Donald Trump is crowned the party’s nominee. His platform breaks with decades of United States policy to effectively deny the Palestinians any hope of statehood.

The question now is whether the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, who positions herself as Israel’s greatest ally, will try to outbid Trump in cravenly submitting to the Israeli right.

It all started so differently. Through much of the primary season, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had reason to be worried about Israel’s “special relationship” with the next occupant of the White House.

Early on, Trump promised to be “neutral” and expressed doubts about whether it made sense to hand Israel billions of dollars annually in military aid. He backed a two-state solution and refused to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On the Democrat side, Clinton was challenged by outsider Bernie Sanders, who urged “even-handedness” towards Israel and the Palestinians. He too objected to the huge sums of aid the US bestows on Israel.

Sanders exploited his massive support among Democrats to force Clinton to include well-known supporters of Palestinian rights on the committee that drafts the party’s platform.

But any hopes of an imminent change in US policy in the Middle East have been dashed.

Last week, as the draft Republican platform was leaked, Trump proudly tweeted that it was the “most pro-Israel of all time!” Avoiding any mention of a two-state solution, it states: “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism. … We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.”

The capitulation was so complete that even the Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based apologist group for Israel, called the platform “disappointing” and urged the Republican convention to “reconsider”. After all, even Netanyahu pays lip service to the need for a Palestinian state.

But Trump is not signaling caution. His new advisers on Israel, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, are fervent supporters of the settlements and annexation of Palestinian territory.

Trump’s running mate, announced at the weekend, is Indiana governor Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian and a stalwart of pro-Israel causes.

So why the dramatic turnaround?

Candidates for high office in the US need money – lots of it. Until now Trump has been chiefly relying on his own wealth. He has raised less than $70 million, a fifth of Clinton’s war-chest.

The Republican party’s most significant donor is Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and close friend of Netanyahu. He has hinted that he will contribute more than $100 million to the Trump campaign if he likes what he sees.

Should Netanyahu offer implicit endorsement, as he did for Mitt Romney in the 2012 race, Christian Zionist preachers such as John Hagee will rally ten of millions of followers to Trump’s side too – and fill his coffers.

Similar indications that money is influencing policy are evident in the Democratic party.

Sanders funded his campaign through small donations, giving him the freedom to follow his conscience. Clinton, by contrast, has relied on mega-donors, including some, such as Haim Saban, who regard Israel as a key election issue.

That may explain why, despite the many concessions made to Sanders on the Democratic platform, Clinton’s team refused to budge on Israel issues. As a result, the draft platform fails to call for an end to the occupation or even mention the settlements.

According to The New York Times, Clinton’s advisers are vetting James Stavridis as a potential running mate. A former Nato commander, he is close to the Israeli defense establishment and known for his hawkish pro-Israel positions.

Clinton, meanwhile, has promised to use all her might to fight the growing boycott movement, which seeks to isolate Israel over its decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory.

The two candidates’ fierce commitment to Israel appears to fly in the face of wider public sentiment, especially among Democrats.

A recent Pew poll found 57 per cent of young, more liberal Democrats sympathized with the Palestinians rather than Israel. Support for hawkish Israeli positions is weakening among American Jews too, a key Democratic constituency. About 61 per cent believe Israel can live peacefully next to an independent Palestinian state.

The toxic influence of money in the US presidential elections can be felt in many areas of policy, both domestic and foreign.

But the divorce between the candidates’ fervor on Israel and the growing doubts of many of their supporters is particularly stark.

It should be dawning on US politicians that a real debate about the nation’s relationship with Israel cannot be deferred much longer.

Jonathan Cook
About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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29 Responses

  1. Ossinev
    July 20, 2016, 2:03 pm

    As ever there are silver linings out there. The farce of the US supporting the 2SS with Palestinians having a Swiss cheese territory with zero sovereignty , zero contiguity and East Jerusalem as its capital (as if) will finally be blown out of the water and US citizens will be clearly exposed to the reality of their government be it Republican or Democratic openly supporting and financing a single state where millions of the native population are denied citizenship and the basic rights cherished in the Land of the Free.

    Bring it on !

  2. eljay
    July 20, 2016, 2:19 pm

    As I recall, Trump’s “neutrality” on I-P lasted all of about five seconds.

    Trump: ” … I’m very pro-Israel. In fact, I was the head of the Israeli Day Parade a number of years ago, I did a commercial for Netanyahu when he was getting elected … People are born with hatred, they’re taught hatred. And I have to say, it’s mostly on the one side, not on the other side. But they’re taught hatred. … ”

    More Trump: “I am a great friend of Israel. I was the Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade… I have so many friends. In fact one of them, one of my great friends — where is Jared, my son-in-law? Where is he? My son-in-law is Jewish, and he’s fantastic … So, there is nobody closer — and Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him, for his campaign. I did a commercial for him.”

    His “turn-around” is more of a “stay the course…and full speed ahead!”

    • bintbiba
      July 20, 2016, 6:15 pm

      Sickening !!

      July 21, 2016, 6:21 pm

      The Republican debates in 10 words or less: I love Israel more than he does

      “I am very close to Israel…I know Bibi very well, in fact he asked me if I’d do a commercial for him. I think I’m the only so-called celebrity that did a commercial for him (My name is Donald Trump and I’m a big fan of Israel. And frankly a strong PM is a strong Israel. And you truly have a great PM in Bibi Netanyahu, there’s nobody like him) …I hope he’s gonna do great.”

      Savvy neocons, like Robert Kagan, have long understood that Clinton could be their Trojan Horse, pulled into the White House by Democratic voters. Kagan told The New York Times, “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” -Robert Parry

  3. Hemlockroid
    July 20, 2016, 5:28 pm

    84 evangelical Christian leaders signed this statement on the Israel/Palestine situation, calling for “the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a fair, two-state solution”.

  4. DaBakr
    July 20, 2016, 5:31 pm

    All the money I the world can’t buy enough votes of the American electorate doesn’t like the candidate. So many commenters” mw were crowing about the loss of kantor to an upstart.

    It is pretty wondrous how zionist-israel- haters can’t imagine that American voters not only have no problem with a pro israel platform but in fact like a pro israel platform. That all the huffing and puffing about aipac this and aipac that is meaningless to most. That there is nothing more to aipac then there is to any other advocacy lobby is lost on jew-haters, Israel-hates and the like. You can scream chicken little about aipac till the cows come home but how many years of barking up the wrong tree will it take to understand that even ‘dumb’ american voters understand what bds is, what ror means, what hamas stands for, what Hezbollah is and isn’t (not a resistance organization but is an Iranian paramilitary proxy and de facto enemy of the usa ) but yeah, it’s Zionist who are the crazy evil ones.

    P’s. Saying trump did a u-turn is so completely off the wall. As if trump has any solid policy plans about anything. He has no concept of u-turns. He has only one big concept of everything including his hair, and it’s Donald Trump. Period.

    • eljay
      July 20, 2016, 8:30 pm

      || @ar: … It is pretty wondrous how … American voters not only have no problem with a pro israel platform but in fact like a pro israel platform. … ||

      Wonderous? No. It’s depressing as hell that so many Americans hypocritically approve of Jews doing unto people in the Middle East acts of injustice and immorality those same Americans would never allow Jews to do unto them.

      || … it’s Zionist who are the crazy evil ones. … ||

      You Zio-supremacists justify and gloat over the acts of injustice and immorality you’ve been advocating and committing for decades. Yeah, you are crazy evil.

    • talknic
      July 21, 2016, 1:25 am

      @ DaBakr July 20, 2016, 5:31 pm

      “It is pretty wondrous how zionist-israel- haters …”

      People who believe Israel should live up to its legal obligations are Israel haters? How so? Meanwhile, denial and lies are to be hated as a matter of course. There the Zionist narrative is easily shown by their own words to be overflowing like a blocked sewer

      “.. can’t imagine that American voters not only have no problem with a pro israel platform but in fact like a pro israel platform”

      Statistics please … thx … I’ll wait

      “That all the huffing and puffing about aipac this and aipac that is meaningless to most”

      Contradicting your previous notion. If they know anything about supporting Israel, they’d surely be aware of AIPAC

      “That there is nothing more to aipac then there is to any other advocacy lobby…”

      AIPAC agressively attempts to influence foreign policy, most other lobby groups are lobbying for domestic issues

      ” … is lost on jew-haters, Israel-hates and the like”

      = people who are aware of AIPAC’s attempts to influence America’s foreign policy re Israel/Palestine and the Middle East and who believe Israel should adhere to its legal obligations

      ” … how many years of barking up the wrong tree “

      Exactly what you and your fellow apologists do via denial and repetition of the lies and fallacies fancied by the supporters of Israel’s continued colonization of non-Israeli territories and who when challenged by the facts resort to meaningless Ziodrivel

      • DaBakr
        July 21, 2016, 9:15 pm

        . No contradiction. I was referring to people like you who constantly carp about aipac . Not the American voters. And if you need statistics to get it thru your thick skull that Americans, wether they know little, some or a lot don’t give a sht about aipac the way you here on MW fret, skulk about, complain, fear and, despise, everything aipac.

        As for bigpharma, big tobacco and big oil? Are you joking? You don’t think these lobbies advocate for laws that favour them in international markets? You have complete and total aipac blinders on. Too bad

      • annie
        July 22, 2016, 4:38 am

        Americans, wether they know little, some or a lot don’t give a sht about aipac

        and you’d like to keep it like that huh? nightflower and all that? pity.

      July 21, 2016, 6:29 pm

      “When Tom DeLay was House majority leader, I found out that any legislative provision having to do with the Middle East had to be vetted and approved by AIPAC before the bill could move forward.” So states Mike Lofgren, recently retired after 28 years as Congressional staffer, the last 16 years as senior analyst for House and Senate Budget Committees. The statement is in a footnote on p. 69 of Lofgren’s new book, THE DEEP STATE: THE FALL OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RISE OF A SHADOW GOVERNMENT

      It appears that “special interests” are trying to force Obama’s hand. “A Jewish official speaking on background said that at least three American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials were present during the entire period when the platform was drafted last month in Minneapolis. Other Democratic and Jewish officials confirmed AIPAC’s participation in the process.” 9/5/2012

      Quote: “How are we going to beat back the anti-Israel divestment resolution at Berkeley? We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote. That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.” -Jonathan Kessler (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Leadership Director)

      YouTube: AIPAC Announces it will take over student government

  5. Krendall Mist
    Krendall Mist
    July 20, 2016, 7:58 pm

    “It should be dawning on US politicians that a real debate about the nation’s relationship with Israel cannot be deferred much longer.”

    Not when 23 of your 24 largest personal donors are Zionist Jews, a la Hillary Ramrod Clinton.
    As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    • Naftush
      July 21, 2016, 9:58 am

      That’s a breakthrough … We always knew it was the Elders of Zion, but now we know how many they are!

      • Mooser
        July 21, 2016, 5:08 pm

        “We always knew it was the Elders of Zion, but now we know how many they are!”

        Gee, “Naftush”, I wish you wouldn’t dare anti-Semitism like that. It frightens me. What if you got more than you bargained for?

  6. Citizen
    July 20, 2016, 9:01 pm

    Reminds me that 60% of total donations to Democratic Party has been contributed by Jewish community, which comprises 2% of US population. Bernie’s $27 donors likely changes that 60% number downward unless they bolt to Jill Stein or Trump.

    • kalithea
      July 21, 2016, 12:27 am

      You really think Bernie’s donors will bolt to Trump??? Fat chance. Trump will end up proving he’s really the icon of the wealthy entitled; the 1%. Should he become President: let them eat cake will become his executive signature.

      • echinococcus
        July 21, 2016, 11:53 am


        The ratio of probable Trump voters among the ex-Sandersites is increasing with each successive poll (as does that of probable Green voters.) This doesn’t check with your statement.
        It is very understandable and predictable, though. One must consider that our electorate is made up overwhelmingly from people educated and incultured in the US: they cannot imagine a modern democracy. Their little universe is limited to a “two-party” winner-take-all comedy. To them, the only thinking available is the lesser evil nonsense.
        Add to that that even counting the total inconsistency of Trump statements, he is definitely an old-fashioned Know-Nothing fascist. He favors isolationism. He favors getting out of international entanglements and active warmaking. Not reliable, of course not! but that’s at least better than the proudly announced rah-rah military aggressivity of the Dims (including Saint Bernard.)

  7. kalithea
    July 21, 2016, 12:14 am

    There was rampant blind endorsement for Trump during the primaries on this site. I was always against Trump, because Trump is a faker and a racist and Trump is only about his brand and power. And I was supporting Sanders albeit cautiously because I was skeptical that his Zionism would get in the way of his good intentions, but I was never skeptical that like Trump, money and lust for power would corrupt Sanders; more like tribal shaming or pressure interfering with his wider agenda to derail whatever sympathy he has for Palestinians.

    But I have to say, Sanders was weaker than I imagined to capitulate to endorsing Hillary when she’ll end up betraying his platform. He lost my respect right there.

    But to imagine that Trump would not be a turncoat on I/P neutrality is really naïve.

  8. Marnie
    July 21, 2016, 12:50 am

    Money should have no place in elections. It’s so dishonest. It’s been an evil influence on american political life and a burden on american taxpayer’s lives since 1948. To make supporting the borderless fascist state of israel sound like an american institution should wake americans the [email protected]# up! What does it mean to be an american, ‘american values’, choose your own cliche, and to live in the ‘land of liberty’, ‘birthplace of democracy’ while at the same time, without missing a beat, support a gang of criminal murderers, crooks and thieves in ‘israel’ and elsewhere?

    • mijj
      July 24, 2016, 12:39 am

      > “Money should have no place in elections.”

      .. in the corporate/lobyist democracy each $ is a citizen and continually votes on government actions. Those amusing fleshbags, the human beings, can (with a little guidance from Citizen $) are periodically offered a ceremony to choose the face of government.

      As far as the dollar is concerned, it all works out rather well. Though, recent uncertainties indicate the system could be improved by taking out the fallible human element entirely.

      If we want to keep the system as it is (ie. the power/influence distribution), then we can’t allow anyone to disturb the system – which means only those with power should be able to vote on the distribution of power (ie. the money-flows of the system). A sure sign the system is strengthening its power security is the reduction of power moving downward across social strata (indicated by increased wealth difference).

      So, yeh .. money is at the root of all corruption.

  9. JLewisDickerson
    July 21, 2016, 4:55 am

    RE: Last week, as the draft Republican platform was leaked, Trump proudly tweeted that it was the “most pro-Israel of all time!” Avoiding any mention of a two-state solution, it states: “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism. … We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.” ~ J. Cook

    MY COMMENT: Beggars can’t be choosers!

    POLITICO: “GOP Cleveland organizers beg Adelson for $6 million”
    LINK –

    P.S. Can the figure of “six million” possibly just be a coincidence? It seems incredibly unlikely to me.
    One measly dollar each.
    It’s worse than Holocaust denial!

    • JLewisDickerson
      July 21, 2016, 5:23 am

      P.P.S. RECALL:
      Christie’s apology to Adelson on “occupied territories” is a shift
      Mar 31, 2014 – It was clarifying indeed to watch the rush by Chris Christie over the weekend to make up for the sin of using the term “occupied territories” in his in his speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, where Christie and three other 2016 contenders had assembled to court billionaire casino magnate and profligate political donor Sheldon Adelson. Never mind that Christie’s comments were couched in a strongly pro-Israel riff, or that the term “occupied territories” has been used, at various points, by the U.S. government, then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Supreme Court. No, Christie was harshly scolded for his language and issued an apology for his transgression to Adelson. . .
      LINK –

  10. Boomer
    July 21, 2016, 7:57 am

    re: “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism. … We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier. . . . The capitulation was so complete that even the Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based apologist group for Israel, called the platform “disappointing” and urged the Republican convention to “reconsider.”

    Wow. It is not surprising that Trump is inconsistent, and platforms traditionally contain a lot of BS that the candidates will feel free to ignore, but wow. I guess the ADL, like the “liberal Zionists,” understands that the end of the two-state charade could create some problems. I hadn’t seen or heard anything about this in the MSM I follow. That may be because I have quit following the election news closely, but it may also be that the MSM does not deem this newsworthy. Thanks for reporting it.

    • Boomer
      July 21, 2016, 3:51 pm

      PS: this article prompted me to look for some MSM reporting on the Republican platform. Thanks to Google I quickly found some, including the story below, which claims that AIPAC worked to keep the parties equally pro-Israel in 2012. Back then, this supposedly meant watering down the Republican language. This time, it will be interesting to see if the Demos can be more effusive than the Repubs.

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb
    July 21, 2016, 9:38 am

    Whatever happened to integrity and self-respect? How revolting.

  12. James Canning
    James Canning
    July 21, 2016, 1:10 pm

    Rich and powerful American Jews to my mind are damaging Israel by encouraging an endless occupation of the West Bank.

  13. kma
    July 21, 2016, 5:11 pm

    something about seeing Trump in the “no-daylight” … um… “position” with Netanyahu seems more poetic than seeing more news photos of another Clinton kissing his … um… parts.

    I was so disappointed when Trump wanted to visit Israel but Netanyahu said “not yet”.

  14. Atlantaiconoclast
    July 21, 2016, 6:39 pm

    If Trump wins, let us hope that the anti War Left comes out of its coma and fights like hell against any hint of a continuation of neocon policies. Trump is a roll of the dice. Personally, I think his instincts on this issue are to the Left of the Christian Zionist GOP base, but to win, he wants Evangelical support, so he isn’t about to embrace justice for Palestine. If he picks someone like John Bolton for Sec of State, then there is little doubt that he won’t bring any change on this issue.

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