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Israel advocates worry Trump’s pick for State has anti-Israel bias

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Over the weekend Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson became the leading candidate to become Secretary of State in the incoming Trump administration. Although most attention has been directed towards his close relationship to Vladimir Putin, there are also questions about what his appointment will mean for Israel/Palestine.

So far it seems most pro-Israel commentators are not excited. Similar to his close relationship to Putin, Tillerson has built close relationships with OPEC member countries in his role with Exxon. Some think this doesn’t bode well for Israel.

Jewish Insider gets this from ZOA’s Mort Klein:

“As an oil man, he was obviously very close to many Arab countries, had close relations with them. I am worried that this  may indicate bias against Israel. His closeness with Russia concerns me as well because Russia has been enormously hostile to Israel. So, in his work life, the Arabs and the Russians were key players in his day to day work. That makes me very concerned about whether he will be extremely biased against Israel.”

Chemi Shalev writes in Haaretz that the Israeli government wouldn’t like the pick:

Jerusalem is bound to be somewhat disappointed with Tillerson’s appointment: all the other potential candidates that had been mentioned, including Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and others, have extensive ties to Israel and to right wing American Jews and a rich history of contacts with Israeli politicians, most notably Benjamin Netanyahu. Tillerson, it seems, is a blank slate as far as Israel is concerned, with less than favorable credentials: the oil industry traditionally keeps its distance from Israel and from Jews and is far more attentive to the oil-rich Arab world. Tillerson could also prove to be a moderating force on the nuclear deal with Iran, compared to Flynn and Mattis, who are thought to be hostile. He is no fan of sanctions and his industry traditionally tries to steer clear of confrontations and hostilities in the Middle East that could upset the delicate oil market.

In addition, Israel advocates are concerned about Tillerson’s friendship with Brent Scowcroft, the realist foreign policy hand who has long been viewed with disdain by neoconservatives. As we reported four years ago, Bill Kristol celebrated the purge of “oldfashioned” Arabists like Scowcroft and James Baker from the Republican Party. In 2012 Kristol told a crowd at B’nai Jeshurun synagogue on the Upper West Side:

I mean, the big story in the Republican Party over the last 30 years and I’m personally very happy about this as a Republican is first the eclipsing of I’d say the [George H.W.] Bush [Brent] Scowcroft [James] Baker traditional—it’s unfair to say– hostility to Israel– but lack of closeness and warmth for Israel … I say this as someone who served in the first Bush White House and has high regard for the first president Bush, but it was an Arabist, oldfashioned Republican Party, which was certainly very concerned about relations with Arab states that were not friendly with Israel and skeptical about the case for Israel. They have really been eclipsed by the Reagan George W. Bush McCain kind of tradition of a more sympathetic attitude toward Israel, greater support for Israel.

The other thing that for 20 years now that has been a worry for many of us on the Republican conservative side, was the rise of — the return of the Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul type of hostility to Israel. The good news is that doesn’t have much support in the Republican Party or the presidential field or Congress….”

Is it back with Tillerson? It remains to be seen, but it seems that the Trump administration is already triangulating to retain pro-Israel support.

According to the New York Times, Trump is considering naming John Bolton as deputy secretary of State where he would handle day-to-day management of the department. Bolton, a hardcore neocon activist from the Bush II White House and the American Enterprise Institute, would assuage many Zionist concerns about the incoming administration, though it would animate liberals too: Chris Matthews of MSNBC expressed alarm at the possibility on Friday, and last month when Bolton was notioned for secretary of state he said such a pick would increase the numbers of Americans who are “sad” and those who are “downright scared.”

In 2014, Bolton expressed opposition to Palestinian sovereignty, saying statehood “would inevitably lead to a terror state on the other side of the border with Israel.”

And just over the weekend this is what Bolton told Jewish Insider about his vision for a “three-state solution” for Israel/Palestine, which amazingly doesn’t involve a Palestinian state:

“I think that we can conclude objectively that the pursuit of a two-state solution has failed. Whether you believe that initially it was a viable proposition or not, after 20 plus years or more, in some cases, we just don’t have the circumstances in the region that will permit it. I propose what I call a three-state solution, that’s wildly unpopular as well, giving Gaza to Egypt, dividing the West Bank and returning sovereignty of part of it to Jordan. I’m told that it’s not workable because the Egyptians don’t want Gaza and the Jordanians don’t want part of the West Bank. I’m certainly open to other alternatives as well, but I think you have to look at the objective reality that the two-state solution doesn’t work and therefore some other alternative has to arise and creative minds ought to work on it instead of pursuing the two-state possibility, which is a dead end in my view.”

Bolton is on the advisory board of the diehard Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Its CEO, Michael Makovsky, offered the same three-state line last week at a forum on the Upper West Side. “I really think it’s a three state solution.” This is an old neoconservative panacea: transfer Palestinian governance to Jordan. And soon it might be helping to guide the State Department.

Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Executive Editor of

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Philip Weiss

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44 Responses

  1. annie on December 12, 2016, 2:54 pm

    i’m so over having cabinet members vetted by israel. where are the pundits wondering if Tillerson would be good for china or the UK? what does saudi arabia think of the possibility? israel is a foreign country and should be treated as such. the discussion surrounding Tillerson should be if he’s good for US diplomacy and US foreign policy.

    the reasons i find his appointment alarming are because of global warming ( ) and his pro fracking stance. there are lots of reasons for concern, but what israel thinks is not on that list and shouldn’t be.

    can he be an asset in terms of keeping us out of war? as americans that should be our primary concern.

    • HarryLaw on December 12, 2016, 3:36 pm

      Surprised you didn’t mention Russia Annie. “In 2013, President Vladimir Putin presented Tillerson with the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors a foreigner may be awarded from Russia”. He will face opposition from Russia haters Lindsey Graham and the rabid John McCain, but you are right why should a tiny state of 8 million people decide the foreign policy of the United States. Or in the words of US President Bill Clinton in 1996 after being lectured by Netenyahu on the Middle East “Who the fuck does he think he is? Who’s the fucking superpower here?” Well we all know the answer to that.

      • HarryLaw on December 12, 2016, 3:56 pm

        McCain’s hatred for Putin is legendary, this is what he said on the current hacking controversy “But Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying,” the Washington Examiner reported him saying. Several years ago Putin had a go at McCain saying “He spent years in a pit in Vietnam, anyone would go nuts after that”.
        He’s right McCain is nuts, but McCain has enormous influence on the committee responsible for approving Secretary of State.

      • annie on December 13, 2016, 2:57 am

        hi harry, i very much ‘mentioned’ russia in my 2015 bloomberg link, which also referencing the Order of Friendship and lots lots more. i recommend it. but russia is not on good terms with the US so i did not juxtapose russia w/israel in comparison as i did other countries. (it did not serve my point) whereas we have close working relations with the UK and saudi arabia. china is not an ally of ours either but it’s also not and enemy. we are not sanctioning them, unlike russia.

        from the bloomberg link:

        It was a moment of triumph for the chief executive officer of ExxonMobil. Almost a decade into the job, Rex Tillerson learned in September 2014 that the costliest well in the company’s history had struck oil a mile beneath the icy seas off the Siberian coast. It was what the industry likes to call an elephant—as much as a billion barrels, then worth about $97 billion. Exxon’s Russian partner, Rosneft, estimated the ocean floor around the $700 million well could hold more crude than the entire Gulf of Mexico. Tillerson had bet big on Russia, and it looked like he’d finally silence concerns that Exxon’s crude output had plummeted for most of his tenure.

        Yet no sooner had the company made the energy industry’s most promising find in 45 years than Exxon was packing up the drilling rig and going home. The short-lived victory had been snatched away by economic sanctions imposed in response to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s support of Ukrainian rebels. The setback reignited debate over whether Tillerson, who along with Exxon declined to comment for this story, bet too much of the company’s future on Russia, a country led by a former spy with a bent toward military interventions and economic nationalism.

      • K Renner on December 14, 2016, 4:08 am

        ” He will face opposition from Russia haters Lindsey Graham and the rabid John McCain,”

        Opposition to boorish, potato-faced Russian ethno-nationalists is about the only thing the likes of McCain and Lindsey Graham get right when it comes to geopolitics. As long as they’re not trying to sideswipe Iran, I’m fine with hostility towards Putin and his pack.

        The Russians schemed to get that orange poison dwarf into the White House (and remember now, hating Trump doesn’t mean that I “love Hillary”, before you go off on a tangent). The Russians are currently in bed with the far right in Western Europe and with the neo-Nazi “alt-right” in America.

        They quite simply don’t deserve to be idolized in the way that your brand of far leftist idolizes them. Remember, the people they’re supporting in Europe and America hate Arabs, Iranians, and Muslims in general about as much as the Israelis do.

        Stupid scum, in other words.

    • RoHa on December 13, 2016, 1:29 am

      Where are the pundits wondering if Tillerson would be good for the USA?

    • HarryLaw on December 13, 2016, 3:48 am

      Annie, sorry I did not open your link since I thought it was purely concerned with global warming and fracking, not unimportant of course but not on my immediate radar at the moment. Interesting link, thanks.

  2. HarryLaw on December 12, 2016, 3:10 pm

    Bolton, “I propose what I call a three-state solution, that’s wildly unpopular as well, giving Gaza to Egypt, dividing the West Bank and returning sovereignty of part of it to Jordan. I’m told that it’s not workable because the Egyptians don’t want Gaza and the Jordanians don’t want part of the West Bank”. That’s right, its a non starter, also dividing the West Bank and giving sovereignty to Jordan is not acceptable to Israel because, according to Israel the whole of the West Bank is part of the historic “Land of Israel” and they would not contemplate giving it away. The balance of forces in the Middle East are changing, when the Syrians defeat the combined forces of the West, Saudi Arabia/Qatar and Turkey, and that’s only a matter of time, the ‘Arc of resistance’ Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and possibly Egypt backed by Russia and to a lesser extent China will mean a far more reduced US influence in the region and therefore a more circumspect Israel, aware of the growing military might of their adversaries. Even the smallest of the Groups mentioned above, Hezbollah, have a stockpile of over 100,000 rockets, many with GPS, targeting Israels vital infrastructure [care of Iran] When that dawns on them they may be open to a real two state solution.

    • gamal on December 12, 2016, 4:27 pm

      hey Harry the al binaa editor gives an Arab (Lebanese) view on Trump, English subs.

      he was accused of celebrating Trump’s victory

      “Trump’s election represents the victory of the resistance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen as well as the sumud of Iran and Russia.”

      • HarryLaw on December 12, 2016, 5:58 pm

        Thank’s gamal, I also enjoyed the video after that with Michel Kilo one of Syria’s leading opposition thinkers who thought the Saudi leadership is mentally impaired. He is right there.
        I would like to see the Houthis get armed to the teeth by the resistance, then regime change that medieval bunch of scumbags and half men in Saudi Arabia.

  3. amigo on December 12, 2016, 3:17 pm

    “Israel has just days to launch a military strike and stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has warned.

    The deadline was set by outspoken former envoy John Bolton, who claimed that time was running out for the West to crush Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

    He said Iran is planning to bring its first Bushehr reactor online on Saturday, when a shipment of nuclear fuel will be loaded into the plant’s core.

    At that point, he said it would be too late for Israel to attack the facility because it would spread radiation and affect innocent Iranian civilians.”bolton.

    Like he gave a rat,s ass about Iranian civillians.

    Then this—same article.

    “Mr Bolton blasted Russia’s role in the development of the plant. ‘The idea of being able to stick a thumb in America’s eye always figures prominently in Moscow,’ he said.”

    Trump /Tillerson will have to keep Bolton well away from any projects involving Russia.I have to believe , Putin has a good memory.

    Kushner and Bolton —God help the Palestinian people.

    • Keith on December 12, 2016, 9:06 pm

      AMIGO- “Kushner and Bolton —God help the Palestinian people.”

      Yeah, the Palestinians have had it pretty good up until now. Without Uncle Sam, Hillary, George Soros and the CIA to protect and coddle them, what will they do?

    • annie on December 13, 2016, 3:03 am

      i have my (serious) doubts he’ll give bolton the job.

      • RoHa on December 14, 2016, 5:16 am

        But he’s got a great moustache!

  4. Keith on December 12, 2016, 9:00 pm

    Good Lord, has it come to this? A Secretary of State who doesn’t want war with the Russians? Hopefully, the McCarthyite Democrats will put a stop to this! The Republicans become faux populists even as the Democrats become red-baiting warmongers. Only in America, folks! Doesn’t Trump understand that peace is unAmerican? But seriously, folks, this power struggle amongst the elites for control of the empire during the next critical four years is no joke. And the CIA/Democrat/Soros nexus is extremely powerful and commited to war. Hold onto your socks, gang, the you-know-what is starting to hit the fan

    • Danaa on December 13, 2016, 4:09 am

      the CIA/Democrat/Soros nexus

      Did you just cite one of the key Deep State components? or is it an axis?

      I agree BTW about the power struggle within the elite. There is lots of evidence for that. The line, the dividing line, goers straight through the heart of the CIA, the FBI and all the other three-letter agencies/agents.

      Poor little Empire…..torn asunder……

    • Sibiriak on December 13, 2016, 7:44 pm

      Tillerson will be forced to go on record embracing the bipartisan anti-Russian /anti-Putin dogma point by point during his confirmation hearings. If he shows the slightest hesitation, he will be voted down.

      With a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate, it would only take three Republicans in revolt to cast Tillerson’s job in doubt. He would face aggressive questioning from Republican foreign policy hawks, led by John McCain.

      “I have, obviously, concerns about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer, but obviously we will have hearings on that issue and other issues concerning him will be examined and then it’s the time to make up your mind on whether to vote yes or no,” the Arizona senator told CNN on Saturday.

      McCain’s former chief of staff, Mark Salter, was far more blunt on Twitter. “Tillerson would sell out Nato for Sakhalin oil and his pal, Vlad,” he wrote. “Should be a rough confirmation hearing, and a no vote on the Senate floor.”

      • Keith on December 13, 2016, 10:45 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “Tillerson will be forced to go on record embracing the bipartisan anti-Russian /anti-Putin dogma point by point during his confirmation hearings. If he shows the slightest hesitation, he will be voted down.”

        Normally, I would agree with you. Now, I am not so sure. Trump is a wrecking ball. What if Netanyahu embraced Tillerson as the price of the US embassy in Jerusalem? There is a huge schism within the elites regarding the future of empire. Trump may be a jerk, but he is a devious jerk. Who else has the cajones (cajanes if you are a Hillary supporter) to take on the CIA? We truly live in interesting times.

      • Keith on December 13, 2016, 10:55 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “He would face aggressive questioning from Republican foreign policy hawks, led by John McCain.”

        Donald Trump is one of the few people around who might bring up Admiral McCain’s role in the attack on the Liberty. There is no love lost between these two and McCain better watch his step. Trump has less to lose than McCain and there could be some real blood spilt. Jeez, I can hardly wait!

  5. Marnie on December 13, 2016, 12:07 am

    israel, come on now. America’s wacky rabbi, Schmooley Botox, will happily do for you what he did for Steve Bannon! He’ll perform an exercism in futility on this Tillerson Texas longhorn and after that Tillerson will keep his antisemitism strictly to the Muslim and African members of the semitic family. No worries!

    • Danaa on December 13, 2016, 4:13 am

      Did you mean “exercism” as in “too much exercise” (a new word to be added to the lexicon. No problem here) or “exorcism”, as in “extricate victory from the jaws of defeat?

      Sorry, just channeling a Mooser here. Forgetting myself*…..

      * who am I, exactly, in this upside down world? anyone knows?

      • Marnie on December 13, 2016, 12:21 pm

        I meant exercism as in exercise in futility but liked the thought of a exorcism so made up a word.

    • HarryLaw on December 13, 2016, 5:13 am

      Marnie, I like that Texas phrase, but I agree with Annie ‘Bomber Bolton’ will not make it, Rand Paul is dead set against him, I suspect Paul will ‘dry gulch’ him when the committee meet.

      • Marnie on December 13, 2016, 12:24 pm

        I hope they corral his behind.

  6. Citizen on December 13, 2016, 2:17 am

    Love all the comments made here so far, by Annie, HarryLaw, gamal, amigo, Keith! As Keith concludes: “Hold onto your socks, gang, the you-know-what is starting to hit the fan.”

    Putin, Tillerson, Netanyahu, Bolton, Kushner; clearly Mr.Trump is surveying the land (mines?)

    Meanwhile, Ivanka says she’s onboard with bringing jobs back to the states, although her brand of clothing is in an industry profitable only by constantly seeking the country with the cheapest workers and most devoid of laws helping those workers. Is that a metaphor?

    • Danaa on December 13, 2016, 4:17 am

      Last I heard from the “Fake news” revelers – Putin has now been determined to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs and was seen – definitively (By CNN, no less) – at Caesar’s assasination scene wielding a knife. That Putin! cavorted with Attila the Hun surely! no doubt was the very one sending Ildiko, Attila’s last reputed wife, to poison him on his nupitals! thus the world was changed forever. Putin is like – everywhere!

      • HarryLaw on December 13, 2016, 9:53 am

        The sad part is many in the US believe it, [like WMD], H L Mencken once said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people”. Oh, by the way I’m from the UK.

      • amigo on December 13, 2016, 1:58 pm

        Give him a
        break.He is trying to Putin as many appearances as possible.

      • annie on December 13, 2016, 2:00 pm

        ha ha! good joke amigo!

      • RoHa on December 13, 2016, 9:02 pm

        Is it Putin who is making my hairline recede and my waistline advance? I’ve been blaming Mossad.

      • RoHa on December 14, 2016, 4:47 am

        It’s probably Putin who is obstructing the Zionists as they attempt to post their arguments about the right of nations to self-determination.

      • Citizen on December 13, 2016, 3:56 pm

        Insurance companies are not profitable unless the healthy customers pay for the sicker customers. Personally, I’ve had health insurance for many decades but between my premiums and co-pays and deductibles, I’ve never gained anything from having it. I’m sure I’m not alone. Why does Israel have government health care for all, but the US can not manage to do it?

      • Mooser on December 13, 2016, 6:28 pm

        “Why does Israel have government health care for all, but the US can not manage to do it?”

        Why is Trump and the Republicans taking what benefits we do have? Social Security, Medicare and the ACA all on the block next month.

        But anyway “Citizen” since your health insurance doesn’t do you any good, why don’t you drop it, now that you are older and healthier.

  7. Maghlawatan on December 13, 2016, 4:09 am

    I hate when Israeli journos use Jerusalem to mean Israeli govt. “Jerusalem doesn’t like .”

    East Jerusalem is probably delighted ya’ni.
    West Jerusalem is nuts.

  8. Maghlawatan on December 13, 2016, 4:32 am

    Where in the US constitution does it say that Israel must approve all government appointments?

    • Citizen on December 13, 2016, 3:58 pm

      I think George Washington said something about foreign entanglements in his farewell address, didn’t he?

  9. iResistDe4iAm on December 13, 2016, 6:35 am

    “I propose what I call a three-state solution, that’s wildly unpopular as well, giving Gaza to Egypt, dividing the West Bank and returning sovereignty of part of it to Jordan” ~ John Bolton

    You can’t have a three-state solution when you already have at least six. As South Africa once had an Afrikaner imposed 11-state apartheid solution (1 self-proclaimed “white” state and 10 bantustans), Palestine now has an Israeli imposed six-state apartheid status quo (1 self-proclaimed “Jewish State” and 5 de facto bantustans).

    De facto Palestinian Bantustans:
    1. Area A – Palestinian Security & Civil Admin control (18% of West Bank land).
    2. Area B – Israeli Security and Palestinian Civil Admin control (21% of West Bank land).
    3. Area C – Israeli Security & Civil Admin control (61% of West Bank land).
    4. East Jerusalem – Illegally annexed by Israel.
    5. Gaza Strip – Illegally besieged by Israel (via air, land & sea) and Egypt (land).

    As the land under Palestinian habitation continues to shrink in size, the number of de facto Palestinian bantustans is actually increasing. Excluding the 43% of the West Bank that is off-limits to Palestinians (reserved for Jewish-only settlements/councils and roads, closed military bases and zones, Israeli declared nature reserves, areas cut off by separation wall, etc), leaves Palestinians with only 13% of their ancestral homeland. It’s ironic that this is equivalent to the 13% that the other Apartheid regime tried but failed to impose in the form of 10 bantustans.

    Here’s a picture of the proposed but failed South Africa 11-state apartheid solution:

    Here’s a picture of the de facto Israeli imposed six-state apartheid status quo (as at December 2011)

    The two pictures look a lot more similar than they would otherwise appear, particularly in terms of percentage of land allocated to the indigenous population, and the mindless (aka: supremacist) fragmentation of that land. The probability of imposing a three-state solution on the oppressed Palestinians after 68 years of oppression, is the same as the probability of imposing a six-state (or even two-state) solution ==> ZERO.

  10. HarryLaw on December 13, 2016, 9:00 am

    iResistDe4iAm, These bantustans could never be economically viable in any case, they would at best be prisons surrounded by settlements and barbed wire. They would of course be well furnished prisons, funded by EU/US aid money, but only provided the Palestinians did not resist or incite, then they would receive the Gaza treatment, and get their lawns mowed, after all the Israelis ‘have the right to defend themselves’. That is not to say some Palestinians would not acquiesce in some constitutional monstrosity such as bantustans, in this link Ramzy Baroud thinks Fatah, the Palestinian body politic is rotten to the core I think it was Professor Finkelstein who said a few years ago, perhaps uncharitably, that Abbas would settle for a s–t house in the desert so long as he could put a Palestinian flag on it.

  11. AddictionMyth on December 13, 2016, 9:24 am

    Are you kidding me? It’s not that hard to understand. TrumPutin plans to incite violence in the middle east and north africa and then use that as a pretext to lob in the nukies. Tillerson and Netanyahu will be fine – they need each other for instigation purposes. They need Israel, at least for now. (And if you didn’t know that then you weren’t listening.)

  12. ritzl on December 13, 2016, 4:46 pm

    He’s an oil guy. Of course he’s got an anti-Israel bias.

    I remember Rubio or Cruz (was there a difference?) giving a speech at a fundraiser in Houston saying he was vehemently opposed to the Iran Deal. Well, that’s the heart of the oil patch so what he was doing was pitching making it vastly more difficult for his audience to do business in order to please Israel. I don’t even think he knew he was doing it, but he punched a huge Republican benefactor class in smack the face in order to salve his Israeli constituents (who btw donate equally to both parties; aka fair-weather friends).

    Expand that out to Israel’s desire for violent destabilization and perpetual chaos for the entire region and there’s going to be a “bit” of tension between those two world views.

    I hope Tillerman – as a representative of stability/sanity – wins out. (Sorry pab. I wish that wasn’t the choice at hand; perpetual war v. climate change. Maybe it won’t be ever thus…)

  13. Elizabeth Block on December 13, 2016, 7:50 pm

    “Jerusalem [sic, or sick] is bound to be somewhat disappointed with Tillerson’s appointment ” — since when is Jerusalem the capital of Israel?
    As for their disappointment, as we say in Brooklyn, es tut mir leid.

  14. wondering jew on December 13, 2016, 11:26 pm

    I take a back seat to no one in opposing mister trump. But mr. Netanyahu has two issues: 1.anti iran and 2. Keep the west bank status quo. And if mister trump can be helpful on either issue or even on both issues, why would Netanyahu give trump a hard time?
    I hated Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March of 2015, that was a breach of protocol and failed. But Netanyahu focusing on his 2 priorities rather than worrying about David duke and Steve bannon sending love letters to each other over the country’s airwaves makes perfect sense to me. But I have very deep ties to israel and have zero illusions regarding likud and the right wing. Those young American jews who are basically apathetic or ignorant or both about israel, their illusions about likud zionism might not be able to survive the raw hatred of trump that motivates them. But to me Netanyahu’s endorsement of trump makes perfect sense given the two priorities that I mentioned and his natural apathy regarding bannon David duke love letters.

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