Trump’s fiasco in Helsinki has provided fresh impetus for the story of Russian influence over the White House. Yet again few are commenting on an obvious big winner of the presidential meeting, Israel. Trump repeatedly praised Israel at the press conference, Vladimir Putin vowed to work with Israel in Syria, and Netanyahu pronounced the presidential meeting a great gain for Israel.
CNN is alone in reporting that Israel’s interests were more important to Trump than US interests:
It wasn’t the security of American citizens, however, but rather those of Israel that the US President appeared to have on his mind.
Trump’s praise for Israel was fulsome and unprompted, far more lavish than his praise of Putin. No country has ever been closer than Israel to the US.
We’ve worked with Israel long and hard for many years, many decades. I think we’ve never — never has anyone, any country been closer than we are. President Putin also is helping Israel. And we both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu, and they would like to do certain things with respect to Syria having to do with the safety of Israel. So in that respect, we absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel, and Israel will be working with us. So both countries would work jointly.
…I think that working with Israel is a great thing, and creating safety for Israel is something that both President Putin and I would like to see very much.
And here’s Netanyahu’s video statement praising the Helsinki confab. The US Israel relationship has never been stronger.
I praise the things I heard in the press conference with President Trump and President Putin… I greatly appreciate the deep commitment to the security of Israel that Trump expressed at the press conference, and I can say that the friendship between Israel and the US has never been stronger.
So the Trump Putin meeting goes into the same account as Trump breaking the Iran Deal, the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor– which Russia had worked hard to achieve and that Israel had done everything to nullify. It goes into the same account as moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that Russia has sharply criticized for destroying any peace process (and that has generated rage across Palestine).
And it goes into the same account as the first proven act of Russian-Trump collusion: when Trump transition aide Mike Flynn went to the Russians behind Obama’s back in December 2016 to try to get them to veto the resolution against Israeli settlements in the Security Council, which Obama was about to abstain on. Russia didn’t play ball.
Our transactional president has often acted in Israel’s interests and done so, patently, because one of his largest donors, Sheldon Adelson at $35 million, wants him to toe the Israeli line. Adelson has “gotten much of what he wanted” by backing Trump, Eli Clifton writes. And most of Adelson’s asks on U.S. policy “mirror the wish list” of Netanyahu. (Though he wants a Korea deal so he can open a casino there.)
Netanyahu tried to exercise such influence over President Obama, of course, and succeeded in getting Obama to back away on settlements for eight years by using the levers of the Israel lobby. But he failed to stop the Iran deal, even as he had Democrats Schumer, Cardin and Menendez on his side against their president– all three of whom have been predictably righteous about Russian influence.
Netanyahu lately boasted to members of his rightwing political party that he had convinced Trump to exit the deal.
“We convinced the US president [to exit the deal] and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement… And we didn’t give up.”
The same video includes annihilationist fantasies about Iran from Netanyahu and a colleague.
The prime minister then begins to speak about the Iranian regime… before he is interrupted by an unidentified person off-screen who says, “It will disappear with the help of God.”
“You said it. From your mouth to God,” Netanyahu says in response as the clip ends.
Of course, the wonder of Netanyahu’s influence is that it goes largely undiscussed in the mainstream media. It is always the Koch brothers and dark money and the Russians who are pulling the strings. Though CNN made a breakthrough in Ian Lee’s report on Israel’s interests:
Let’s compare that commitment to Israel’s national interest with Trump’s failure to address US interests on Monday…
Netanyahu has extensively lobbied both Russian and US governments.