Two days ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted the following endorsement of Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and the comments have since roiled the American Jewish world, turning leading Jews against Trump.
President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea 🇮🇱🇺🇸
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 28, 2017
Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has posted a series of tweets seeking to explain Netanyahu’s self-destructive intervention. Shapiro notions a possible deal between the two men: Trump squeezed Netanyahu for the tweet in exchange for concessions on settlements, the embassy, the Iran deal:
@netanyahu‘s top aide’s told me a key goal in Trump’s era was keeping bipartisan support for Israel. Now this?
Hard to explain this intervention on a hotly debated issue in domestic US politics. Unless….
his endorsement is Trump’s demand of Netanyahu for something Netanyahu wants, the quid pro quo. But for what?
Canceling the Iran deal? Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem? Supporting building in settlement blocs?
To me, it looks like Trump is already squeezing Netanyahu hard. “The Art of the Deal.”
(Bear in mind, a former Netanyahu aide a year ago referred to Shapiro as “little Jewboy.” Revenge is a dish best served cold.)
Here is some of the American Jewish outrage. Dylan Williams of J Street says the tweet will drive a wedge between American Jews and Israel:
This is Netanyahu telling the huge majority of American Jews horrified by bigoted Trump border policies exactly what he thinks of our values
Lara Friedman of Peace Now wrote:
And in one tweet, Bibi sums up the ugly – and shared – illiberalism at the core of current Israeli and US policies.
Americans for Peace Now released a statement yesterday by Ori Nir telling Trump to bug out or he could break up the pro-Israel lobby:
APN calls on Netanyahu to stay out of America’s heated debate on immigration, and to take into consideration the impact that statements on issues like this have on Israel’s relations with broad, key segments of the American public and with the vast majority of American Jews….
As Israel’s leader, Netanyahu must take into account all aspects of the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s chief national security asset on the international arena. He should avoid alienating broad segments of the American public and the vast majority of American Jews and American Jewish institutions, which view many of Trump’s policies, including his policy on immigration, as a violation of the Jewish values and the American values that American Jews hold dearly, and as a violation of their very identity as Americans and as Jews.
Jewish Insider quotes a number of liberal Zionists who also fear the wedge-driving element to it. Note the panic from Ann Lewis (who has said that an American president must support the Israeli people no matter what they do politically) over the possibility that liberal Dems might fall out of love with Israel.
“The completely unnecessary tweet by the Prime Minister on such a divisive issue that has nothing to do with Israel serves no useful purpose and alienates key constituencies from whom we need support,” Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations, told Jewish Insider. “This tweet also damages our ability to build coalitions to fight against the BDS movement,” he added….
Ann Lewis, former White House Communications Director in the Clinton Administration, told Jewish Insider, “All weekend, I’ve watched and cheered crowds with self-identified young Jews protest against Donald Trump’s appalling executive order. These are the values of the young people we work with to maintain support for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East – the country that provides medical care for wounded Syrians, and has just welcomed a number of Syrian refugees. Those are the shared values that keep the relationship strong. The Prime Minister’s tweet doesn’t help.”
Israel is the dystopian model all Western authoritarians admire and want to emulate. No wonder Netanyahu loves Trump
It is having diplomatic consequences too. Mexico has expressed its anger at Israel. Haaretz’s Barak Ravid:
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry expressed on Saturday night its “dismay and disappointment” over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tweet on the wall that U.S. President Donald Trump is interested in building on the border with Mexico.
“The Mexican Foreign Ministry told the Israeli government, through its ambassador to Mexico, its deepest dismay, rejection and disappointment over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Twitter message regarding the construction of a border wall. Mexico is a friend of Israel, and must be treated as such by its prime minister,” it said in an official announcement.
As they say, good times. Netanyahu is due to visit the White House on February 15.