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At Christian Zionist gathering in Texas, Trump is God’s Cyrus, and Bill Maher is ‘stupidest Jew in Hollywood’

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The Democratic-leaning American Jewish community is becoming increasingly queasy about a U.S.-Israel relationship in the form of a Trump/Netanyahu alliance.  The U.S. is now unabashedly aligned with the far-right, rabidly militaristic, anti-democratic elements in the Israeli government (as opposed to the more acceptable, Obama-style tut-tutting, which purported to distance itself from the more embarrassing Israeli atrocities).  The American Jewish community was apparently only willing to tolerate fascism at a distance, where orientalist tropes enabled the human rights violations to be justified in the “rough neighborhood” of the Middle East. But Donald Trump has brought home what that looks like domestically, and the American Jewish community can no longer fail to notice who they are in bed with.

Israel’s plan B for shoring up U.S. support is to cultivate a much more natural alliance with the white Christian evangelical Zionist community, who don’t need to be mollified with the fantasy of an eventual two-state solution. San Antonio, Texas, is home to the traditional bastion of white Christian Zionism, Rev. John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church, which runs the organization Christians United for Israel. But new initiatives are appearing.


When the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, a self-described “prayer movement” announced it would be coming to San Antonio, April 11 to 12, several members of the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace decided to attend. The annual event in Jerusalem is hosted by the Israeli government and brings hundreds of evangelicals to the Holy Land. It was founded by the Israeli Knesset in 2017 and spearheaded by Israeli member of Knesset Robert Ilatov with former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. The sister event in Texas that we attended is also co-chaired by Ilatov and Bachmann, and was hosted by the Justice Foundation, a conservative legal action group that files cases aimed at limiting access to abortion and expanding Christian prayer in Texas public schools. A Facebook page for the event was made by a digital marketing consultant for the Trump 2016 campaign, Adam W. Schindler. It was a merger of the conservative to reaching-far-right end of political life in both Israel and the U.S.  We wanted to learn what we could about the group itself, and about Christian Zionism as it continues to gain political traction.

Robert Ilatov, a member of the Israeli Knesset with a far right party.

At the “Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast Texas” we heard a lot of familiar themes from the Christian Zionist playbook at the founders dinner: the use of the Bible as a roadmap for a political agenda.

From the podium Michele Bachmann raised the notion that Trump is an agent of God who will fulfill the apocalyptic prophecies to restore Jerusalem to the Jews as a condition for the return of Christ; evangelical speaker and author Lance Wallnau made comparisons between Trump and Cyrus; the Tea Party’s Louie Gohmert (R-TX) linked CAIR to ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood in a healthy dose of Islamophobia. Texas Republican Congressmen Brian Babin and Ron Wright also gave speeches, along with Israeli lawmakers, the event’s founder Robert Ilatov of the extreme right Yisrael Beiteinu party, and Likud’s Anat Berko, infamous for, among other antics, attempting to outlaw displays of the Palestinian flag within Israel.

The consequence of their brand of political theology, as the participants made quite clear, was an open contempt for democracy.  Our government should not be responsive to the collective wishes of the citizenry – it should follow the Bible. Trump should not listen to expert advisers – he should follow the signals that several speakers suggested he is apparently receiving from God. Israel should not heed international law or any secular peace process; “there is only one peace process,” some of the speakers said, and it involves absolute territorial dominance, because this is what is promised in the Bible.  Their political vision is blatantly theocratic.

When Israel is mentioned in the context of state religion, the religion at issue is generally taken to be Judaism.  This was clearly not the case with the prayer breakfast which, despite describing itself a “Jewish-Christian alliance” had an exclusively Christian theocratic agenda.  This distinguishes it somewhat from Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. One participant said she is from the group One for Israel, a proselytizing organization that describes its mission as “Reaching Israelis with the Gospel message.” She confided to me that she has nothing to do with Hagee because he is too reticent about dictating his agenda to Jews – he fails to evangelize – and has therefore diluted and betrayed the purity of the Christian mission.

For many at the event, Jewish dominance over a Greater Israel is a means to a dispensationalist Christian apocalyptic goal, so there was the appearance of a unified Jewish-Christian front.  The Members of Knesset and rabbis in attendance seemed willing enough to tolerate the crazy theology for the sake of material support.  But I was struck by how close to the surface the antisemitism really was. And I don’t just mean the antisemitism inherent in their apocalyptic theology (Jews will convert or die when Jesus comes again).  I mean literal “Jew joke” antisemitism.

For instance, at one point Lance Wallnau referred to Bill Maher as “the stupidest Jew in Hollywood,” to general laughter.  Another speaker bemoaned the inability of Jews to vote in Israeli elections, without any apparent worries about falling into the “dual loyalty” trope.  Ilatov joked that “Jews only accepted the ten commandments because they got them for free” (a remark that drew appreciative and extended laughter from the audience) before clarifying that “the truth is they are free for everybody.” This is not a reference to an antisemitic joke.  This is actually making an antisemitic joke, to a highly receptive audience.

And then there was breakfast.  Registrants had not been asked about food choice, and we were simply presented a plate of food at the start of the event.  The plate consisted of scrambled eggs, beef brisket hash, and pork sausages, accompanied by a yogurt drink. Nobody seemed perturbed, although several hours later, the director announced, awkwardly, incongruously, and without context, that the sausages had been chicken, not pork.  Not only was this a bald lie (I know what pork tastes like), it hardly made the meal kosher.

The implications were clear enough: Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast Texas has no concern for Jews, except as props.  It makes use of a naive Christian fantasy of what Jews are like, carelessly culled from antisemitic tropes.  This is not an intersectional Zionism, it is exclusively Christian, and openly antisemitic. Of course, as the sausage episode suggests, this group was blithely unaware of this fact.  They only recognized antisemitism in the form of anti-Zionism. We are used to the debate over whether anti-Zionism is antisemitic. This group had a new twist: only anti-Zionism is antisemitic.

However insane and political incoherent this group might be, we need to take them seriously.  They clearly wield significant and increasing political power, and they have found in Trump someone who will defy diplomacy and the traditional political channels to help get them what they want (annexation of the Golan Heights, the embassy in Jerusalem, and as a wish list for the future: war with Iran, annexation of the West Bank, criminalization of BDS, and Israeli control of the Temple Mount).

At the same time, this new shift in political fortunes, as the Israeli right seeks to ally with American Christians rather than American Jews, presents new opportunities for resistance.  Liberal Zionist Jewish communities might not want to call out the Israeli right, but they can surely call out the Christian right; aside from being hosted by the Justice Foundation, the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast Texas included representatives from the NRA.  They have no interest in democracy or even Jews. Their Zionism is antisemitic.

The masks are off – this is a moment of clarity and one we can use to our advantage.

Judith Norman
About Judith Norman

Judith Norman teaches philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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18 Responses

  1. annie
    annie on May 17, 2019, 12:30 pm

    The Democratic-leaning American Jewish community is becoming increasingly queasy about a U.S.-Israel relationship in the form of a Trump/Netanyahu alliance.

    The American Jewish community was apparently only willing to tolerate fascism at a distance,

    the American Jewish community can no longer fail to notice who they are in bed with. Israel’s plan B for shoring up U.S. support is to cultivate a much more natural alliance with the white Christian evangelical Zionist community

    Liberal Zionist Jewish communities might not want to call out the Israeli right, but they can surely call out the Christian right

    there’s no recognition in the article that there’s also a right leaning american jewish community, to the right of liberal zionists. american jews who embrace trump, the gop, the embassy in jerusalem, war with Iran, annexation of the West Bank, criminalization of BDS. all of the people in the article who are on the right are either israelis or christian zionists. why is that?

    certainly there are members of the American Jewish community all too willing to not only tolerate fascism, but embrace it up close. it’s not just “Israel’s plan B” to shore up U.S. support for Israel by cultivating “a much more natural alliance with the white Christian evangelical Zionist community”, that’s a right wing jewish american thing too.

    mostly i mention this because it seems standard for jewish groups to speak for american jews as if they all agreed with each other. and while i know most jews vote with the democratic party, for sure there’s a strong element that doesn’t. all the right wing stuff doesn’t just come from israeli jews. stephen miller, Mnuchin, the david friedman’s of the world, and many more, they do exist within the american jewish community and i don’t get the sense they are uncomfortable with israel’s more exposed lurch to the right. they like it, they made it happen. https://mondoweiss.net/2019/05/relationship-jerusalem-ambassador/

    other than that, great article!

    • DaBakr
      DaBakr on May 17, 2019, 5:15 pm

      I suppose the right leaning jews are considered a given. Anyway, in times of political turmoil it isn’t unusual for groups, be they social, political or simply religious to turn to prophecy and more literal interpretations of their religious doctrine. Elmer Gantry, Father Divine, Falwell, Koresh, and maybe Friedman are just a few on the polarity. Many other great leaders where privately very religious as well but understood it was not to be mixed with public policy.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on May 18, 2019, 8:21 pm

        “I suppose the right leaning jews are considered a given.”

        “As goes the Right wing-nut, so goes the all-rightnik!”

        BTW “Elmer Gantry” is a fictional character.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr on May 26, 2019, 4:40 am

        @mssr

        Often things are written here in terms of truth and fiction. Gantry was a good example…for the older set anyway.

        I guess I could have used jim Jones or the maharishi

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso on May 18, 2019, 11:58 am

      @annie, et. al.

      “Israel” in action:

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-based-campaign-to-spread-disinformation-targeted-nigerian-election-1.7252585

      “Israel-based Campaign to Spread Disinformation Targeted Nigerian Election, Think Tank Says” Associated Press, Haaretz, May 17/19

      “Accusations come day after Facebook banned dozens of accounts, pages and groups peddling fake news aimed at disrupting elections in Africa, Asia and Latin America.”

      “A U.S. think tank that analyzes misinformation online said Friday that an Israel-based influence campaign busted by Facebook had stumped for the winning candidate in the February 2019 Nigerian presidential elections.

      “A new report from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab highlights sample posts removed from Facebook that appeared to praise incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and smear his leading opponent, Atiku Abubakar.

      “Many of the pages and accounts were discovered to be linked to a Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm named Archimedes. On its sparse website of African stock images, the company advertises its deliberate efforts to conduct disinformation campaigns, boasting that it takes ‘every advantage available in order to change reality according to our client’s wishes’ through ‘unlimited online accounts operation.’

      “Facebook banned Archimedes from the platform Thursday for its ‘coordinated and deceptive behavior’ and conducted a sweeping takedown of dozens of accounts and hundreds of pages primarily aimed at disrupting elections in African countries, with some scattered activity in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Overall, the misleading accounts had reached some 2.8 million users, and the pages had engaged over 5,000 followers, according to Facebook’s estimates.

      “One of the pages that Facebook cancelled appeared filled with viral misinformation attacking Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria. The page’s banner image showed Abubakar as Darth Vader, the Star Wars villain, holding up a sign reading, ‘Make Nigeria Worse Again.’

      “Another page with almost identical visuals, although significantly excluding the Darth Vader mask, purported to support Abubakar, with the slogan ‘Team Atiku For President.’ The report identified the page as a covert attempt to infiltrate Abubakar’s audience of potential voters and manipulate their views, gradually spamming them with antithetical content and diverting them to the ‘Make Nigeria Worse’ page.

      “The report also featured a page that explicitly lionized and boosted Buhari, with amateur videos eulogizing the accomplishments of his presidency as though he were not locked in a tight battle for re-election.

      “Yet another series of pages targeted the local Rivers state elections in Nigeria’s turbulent south, which was marred by widespread violence. Several of the removed pages attempted to defame a candidate from Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party and boost his opponent. One page with artificially amplified audience engagement, called ‘Rivers Violence Watch,’ pumped out political propaganda while posing as a neutral monitor of election violence, using the page description to mask its efforts.

      “Most of the pages claimed to be run by local Nigerian users, but in fact were managed from
      Israel.

      “Fake news flooded Nigerians and played a central role in the recent national election. Rumors, spreading like wildfire in Africa’s most populous country, became so outlandish and fevered that Buhari last year was compelled to declare publicly that he had not died and been replaced by a clone. More than a dozen media outlets joined forces before the election for a fact-checking initiative, while government officials acknowledged that fake news could be deadly in a country with multiple ethnic and religious fault lines.

      “The incumbent Buhari, who ran on promises to clean up government corruption, and his challenger Abubakar, who campaigned more on pocketbook issues, were in a dead heat as the election approached. The vote vaulted Buhari to a resounding victory, but remained clouded in controversy, with each side accusing the other of vote-rigging and Election Day violence halting ballot-counting and sparking dangerous rumors.

      “Despite the overt political messaging of these inauthentic pages, the Digital Forensics lab could not assign a particular ideological motive to Archimedes’ campaigns, given the diversity and scope of its general operations. Rather, the company, which poured over $800,000 into deceptive content over the past several years, appeared profit-driven. The report did not probe the origins of its cash flow, and it was not clear whether political actors in Nigeria or other countries where the campaigns took off had paid for the company’s ‘strategic consulting.’

      “‘The fact the pages were operated by a for-profit company is a troubling sign that highly partisan disinformation is turning into a capital enterprise,’ the report said.”

      • annie
        annie on May 18, 2019, 7:01 pm

        thanks misterioso, i read (and tweeted) about this this group the other day as it was reported widely, but it didn’t include the same detail as your report.

      • just
        just on May 18, 2019, 7:11 pm

        No mention of them targeting US/UK, etc. elections….. funny, eh? Glad this came out anyway. Could it be because the pols in the US/UK, etc. openly court their (Israeli) participation? Perhaps now the electorates can begin to think critically (for once!).

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on May 19, 2019, 2:29 am

        Misterioso,

        So what?

        ” Interfering” in any place’s elections by any kind of speech (and as long as it is limited to speech in its 1st A sense, without physical deeds, be it correct information or propaganda skullduggery according to the beholder) is, and has been, the most basic right of anyone. Anyone includes your enemies, contrary to the practice of “Democrats”, liberal and non, who now openly joined the CIA, the FBI, the EU and other murderous despots in suppressing any speech they don’t like.

        If we don’t defend the right of even Zionists to free speech (no matter that they sure are the worst of criminals on earth), we’ll lose ours next time we meet the business end of the same knife.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on May 19, 2019, 10:48 am

        A new report from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab…
        ————————————————————————————

        The pro-Empire, pro-war, pro-censorship Atlantic Council’s nefarious disinformation unit.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson on May 17, 2019, 12:47 pm

    RE: “From the podium Michele Bachmann raised the notion that Trump is an agent of God who will fulfill the apocalyptic prophecies to restore Jerusalem to the Jews as a condition for the return of Christ . . .” ~ Judith Norman

    MY COMMENT: According to The Nazi Conscience by Claudia Koonz, some Germans believed Hitler had been sent by God to “save” the German Volk.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    RE: “[E]vangelical speaker and author Lance Wallnau made comparisons between Trump and Cyrus . . .” ~ Judith Norman

    SEE: “Televangelist’s show sells $45 Trump coin as ‘point of contact’ to God” | By Aris Folley | thehill.com | May 16, 2019

    “The Jim Bakker Show” recently promoted a coin decorated with President Trump’s face as a “point of contact” with God.

    In a viral clip of the promotion, evangelical author Lance Wallnau described the $45 coin as a means for believers to establish a “point of contact” with God.

    “When I asked the Lord ‘Why the coin?’ he said ‘Because when you take the coin, it’s a point of contact,’” Wallnau said in the clip*, which was shared on Twitter by Right Wing Watch, which “monitors and exposes the activities of Radical Right political organizations.” . . .

    CONTINUED AT – https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/443997-televangelist-sells-45-trump-coin-being-peddled-to-believers-as

    * P.S. For $45, Lance Wallnau and Jim Bakker will sell you a Trump/Cyrus coin that you can use as a “point of contact” between you and God as you pray for Trump’s re-election in 2020.
    ■ CLIP – https://twitter.com/RightWingWatch/status/1128366601445810177

  3. MHughes976
    MHughes976 on May 17, 2019, 1:36 pm

    The ‘supersessionist’ theology – Christianity will take the place of Judaism in the divine scheme of things – might not be so offensive to Jewish theology in a version where the result is not to be achieved until the end of the world. This is an implicit admission that not enough has yet happened to convince Jewish people that Jesus came from God is far less unpleasant than the idea that Jesus made his mission manifest in ancient times and that the Jews ought to have accepted this long since. Jesus’ return is now conceived as the delayed fulfilment of God’s promise to the Jews and the duty of Christians conceived as service to Jewish political power. That’s worth a few pork sausages.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on May 18, 2019, 8:25 pm

      “The ‘supersessionist’ theology…”

      Very short-lived, and produced only one decent album as I remember.

  4. echinococcus
    echinococcus on May 17, 2019, 8:57 pm

    “This is not a reference to an antisemitic joke. This is actually making an antisemitic joke”

    Which is the only thing the prayer-breakfast [email protected] should be approved and commended for. No joke can be funny if it’s PC-compliant.

    To quote the article title, “Trump is God’s Cyrus”, and Ms Bachmann is his twerking Miley.

  5. Misterioso
    Misterioso on May 18, 2019, 9:35 am

    To be brief:

    Zionism, a 19th century fascistic settler/colonialist ideology, is in free fall. It’s only a matter of time.

  6. just
    just on May 18, 2019, 10:14 am

    wrt CUFI, in case someone here did not read Ben Norton’s chilling and comprehensive account of their conference/antics/dangerous exhortations, go here:

    “Inside a CUFI Summit: Christian Zionists dance the hora and prepare for end times in Washington DC

    There is a long history of journalists venturing into the depths of a mysterious unknown, in hopes of illuminating dark secrets and elucidating murky waters, of communicating to curious outsiders what exactly goes on in the belly of a bizarre beast.

    I can think of few bellies as beastly (and as bizarre) as that of Christian Zionism—a movement consisting primarily of far-right Christian fundamentalists whose pro-Israel fanaticism is only matched by their deep-seated eschatological anti-Semitic belief that, upon the impending apocalypse (which they have no doubt will happen in their lifetime), Jesus will return, and ruthlessly spill the blood of all of the Jews who refuse to accept him as their savior, before damning them to the fiery depths of Hell for all eternity.

    A year ago this week, Christians United for Israel (CUFI)—the largest pro-Israel organization in the US, with over two million members—held its ninth annual summit. Close to 5,000 people, mostly Christians, along with some Jews, gathered in Washington, DC to celebrate Israel just two weeks into the nation’s 51-day attack on Gaza, code-named Operation Protective Edge, mere days after the beginning of the Israeli military’s ground invasion. Almost 500 Palestinians had already been killed when the summit took place, and 1,700 more were to lose their lives in the coming weeks.

    I attended the event with the intention of gaining a deeper understanding of the Christian Zionist movement, but to be frank, I left the conference even more befuddled than I had been before I entered. …”

    https://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/christian-zionists-washington/

  7. Ossinev
    Ossinev on May 18, 2019, 12:37 pm

    Fascinating to obseve the absurdity of Zioland`s links with the crackpot US Evangelical zealots who were in “raptures” over the US Embassy move to Jerusalem – no doubting seeing it as the first step in the process of mass conversion of Jews or sending them to hell as non believers if they decline.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/world/middleeast/robert-jeffress-embassy-jerusalem-us.html

    Interesting to note also that Hagee was of the opinion that Hurricane Katrina was God`s judgement against New Orleans for it`s “sinful” ways including the hosting of a gay festival.
    Now I wonder what Hagee has to say about Israel`s pinkwashed pride(sic) and joy,Tel Aviv, and what he would say if some sort of disaster struck that particular city.

    • Bumblebye
      Bumblebye on May 18, 2019, 6:08 pm

      I found out only days ago that we have a CUFI UK. Didn’t explore it much, but odds are that it’s also aligned with the rising far right.

  8. Misterioso
    Misterioso on May 18, 2019, 3:51 pm

    Trump the blunderer at America’s helm:

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/17/trump-and-the-middle-east-a-long-record-of-personal-failure/

    “Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure” by Melvin Goodman, counterpunch, May 17/19

    “Many American presidents have blundered in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the region has been particularly disastrous. President Eisenhower introduced the CIA to the world of covert action, when he ordered the overthrow of the legitimate government of Iran in 1953. President Reagan endorsed a U.S. troop presence in Lebanon in 1982 in order to pull Israeli chestnuts out of the fire there due to their war crimes in Beirut, offering proof to the Arab nations of Washington’s one-sided support for Israel. President George H.W. Bush went ahead with Desert Storm in 1991 although Soviet President Gorbachev had gained a commitment from Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. Worst of all, President George W. Bush used phony intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003 that has created sixteen years of disarray throughout the region.

    “But Trump has made numerous decisions that have compromised U.S. interests in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. In doing so, he rarely consulted any members of his national security team or offered any explanation for his policies. The past two years have produced a random pattern of actions that have unnecessarily rewarded the bellicose behavior of Israel and Saudi Arabia; decertified a seminal arms control treaty with Iran and then threatened war with Iran; prolonged an unwinnable military engagement in Afghanistan; and worsened an intense multi-national struggle among non-Arabs in Syria. Trump now heads a long list of American presidents who believed that U.S. problems in the region were susceptible to a military solution.

    “Trump is the first president since the Six-Day War to have no interest in promoting peacemaking between the Arab nations and Israel and particularly between Palestinians and Israelis. Ignoring the advice of an early national security team (Secretary of State Tillerson; Secretary of Defense Mattis; and national security adviser McMaster), Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; closed the American consulate in East Jerusalem; stopped aid to the Palestinians; closed the office of the Palestinian Authority in the United States; recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel; and seemingly endorsed Israel’s permanent grip on the West Bank. In making one of his bankruptcy lawyers the U.S. ambassador to Israel and assigning the so-called peace process to his inexperienced son-in-law, Trump demonstrated total support for Israel’s authoritarian president, Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave up nothing in return for numerous U.S. political and diplomatic “gifts.”

    “Trump’s support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s criminal behavior in the Yemeni civil war and MbS’s authorization of the sadistic killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at least drew some opposition from a Republican-led Senate that has largely ignored the president’s aberrant behavior elsewhere. In December 2018, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution that censored the Saudi killing of Khashoggi, and in April 2019, a bipartisan bill cited the War Powers Act of 1973 to call for an end to U.S. military support for the Saudi air campaign in Yemen. There have been decades of one-sided U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, but Trump has gone overboard in ignoring the Kingdom’s unconscionable actions.

    “Trump made an unusual roll of the diplomatic dice in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in December 2018, when he abruptly offered to withdraw 2,200 U.S. troops from Syria (as well as 7,000 troops from Afghanistan that would halve the U.S. presence there). This maneuver not only shocked various capitals in Europe as well as in the affected region, but it created great turbulence in Washington where there had been no warning given whatsoever. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, considered the only adult left in the national security arena, quickly resigned, although Trump told a cabinet meeting two weeks later that he ‘fired’ Mattis. Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, also resigned in protest. Five months later, the U.S. troops remain in place as the new ‘war cabinet,’ led by national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo simply ignored the presidential directive.

    “Trump’s proposal to designate the Moslem Brotherhood as a terrorist organization also drew the ire of U.S. allies in the Middle East as well as from his entire national security team. The Moslem Brotherhood, an Islamist political organization that was founded in 1928, is actively linked to numerous political parties in Moslem states aligned with the United States, including Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Kuwait, Tunisia, and Bahrain, the home of a huge American naval base. Turkey and Qatar, also home to U.S. military facilities, have also aligned themselves with the Moslem Brotherhood. Trump’s branding of the Brotherhood as terrorists, in response to the importuning of authoritarian Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, would create disarray in all of these allied states. The Moslem Brotherhood has never targeted U.S. interests, and for that reason Middle Eastern experts in the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the Department of State have argued against Trump’s proposal.

    “In addition to the personal and political whims of a president who has no experience in the central matters of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, we are now facing the possibility of a military altercation with Iran. Trump’s actions over the past year point to the possibility of the use of military force again Iran in the wake of the U.S. decertification of the Iran nuclear accord. The accord had transformed a potentially violent situation in the Persian Gulf into an arena for possible political and diplomatic compromise.

    “Trump’s war cabinet has openly discussed support for regime change in Iran as well as the use of military force against Iran. Last week, an unusual meeting of the national security team discussed the Pentagon’s option for deploying 120,000 troops in the Gulf region. Meanwhile, the intelligence community has no evidence of Iran’s plans to threaten U.S. interests in the greater Middle East, let alone provoke a conflict. Ever since John Bolton was named national security adviser a year ago, the Trump administration has gone overboard with sanctions and propaganda to provoke the government in Tehran.

    “Trump’s efforts to reshape U.S. foreign policy over the past two years have compromised most U.S. foreign policies, including those with traditional U.S. allies and alliances supportive of U.S. efforts regarding arms control and disarmament as well as conflict resolution. Since the revolution in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 40 years ago, moreover, the United States has relied on its military resources to assert influence in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Trump’s discussions of supporting the formation of an ‘Arab NATO,’ and his provocative discussion of a possible military conflict with Iran have isolated the United States throughout the region. His successors will have a difficult time reshaping policy in the Middle East and repairing the damage that Trump and his national security team have wrought.”

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