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Trump’s plan is a calculated effort to strip pro-Israel Jews from Democrats

Opinion
on 23 Comments

The impeachment trial has offered bald proof that Trump looks on foreign policy as a means to advance his political interests at home, and some critics of Trump’s annexation plan for Palestine have pointed out that it also has a domestic political motivation.

Joe Biden said that the plan is a “political stunt.” While Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, fills that in: “To launch it in front of what we would call a partisan crowd at the White House with the prime minister of Israel standing next to the president did the plan no favors. It immediately gave it the sense of one-sidedness and gave it a political overlay that I would argue in some ways works against the interests of those who want this to succeed.”

By one-sidedness, Haass was referring to an East Room crowded with rightwing Zionists: including Trump’s largest donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Ron Lauder, Malcolm Hoenlein, Jason Greenblatt, and Alan Dershowitz, as well as Christian Zionists Ralph Reed and John Hagee.

No Palestinians were in sight, and Trump surely was pleased by those optics. After all, the Adelsons, who have given upwards of $100 million to Republican causes, have been very close to Netanyahu.

Trump alluded to the political power of those in the room, as he blurted that he had moved the Jerusalem embassy “for you.”

And, Bibi, we have a lot of powerful people in this room — a lot of the people that can help make it work…

Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided… capital.  (Applause.)  But that’s no big deal, because I’ve already done that for you, right?…  As everyone knows, I have done a lot for Israel: moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing — (applause) –- recognizing the Golan Heights — (applause) — and, frankly, perhaps most importantly, getting out of the terrible Iran nuclear deal.   There’s a lot of spirit in this room.

Leaving aside Christian evangelicals for a moment, Trump’s calculation appears to be that he can do what Ronald Reagan did in 1980, and take a sizeable chunk of the Jewish vote, and also Jewish donors from the Democratic Party. Reagan doubled the usual Republican haul, getting 40 percent of Jews. Israel-related factors likely contributed to Jimmy Carter’s defeat.

There are many signs that this is Trump’s game– and he has some traction. Twice last year Trump said that Democratic Party Jews are being “disloyal” to Israel, and he doesn’t understand how Jews can vote for Democrats.

Haim Saban, one of the largest donors to the Democratic Party whose only issue is Israel, announced that he supports Trump’s plan as a “blueprint” for a two-state solution. He also said that he maintains close ties to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who is a tireless supporter of Israel.

Joe Biden was very careful in his criticism of the plan to remind people how much he loves Israel: “I’ve spent a lifetime working to advance the security & survival of a Jewish and democratic Israel. This is not the way.”

Biden has to know that many Israel-supporting Jews are “Trump-curious,” as Bari Weiss of the New York Times says, including her own father, a stalwart of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. A new Democratic lobbying organization that includes many AIPAC members — Democratic Majority 4 Israel– has been careful not to say a critical word about the plan. Nor a supportive word.

Pete Buttigieg also appears to fear these dynamics. Two days ago he walked back his promise of last fall to condition aid to Israel if it takes steps to annex the West Bank. He was quizzed about whether such a step is now necessary given Trump’s greenlight to annexation, by a member of the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow, and responded:

The US cannot be promoting annexation like it is under this president. By the way, I’m not talking about withdrawing aid or withdrawing our support to Israel…

If you’re asking me to commit to withdrawing aid to Israel, the answer is No…

The Israeli government will get the message that we are not going to support those kinds of steps. In my view they’re bad for Isrel, they’re bad for Palestinians, and bad for America.

Buttigieg is backed by among others the financier Seth Klarman, who is a strong supporter of Israel.

Buttigieg and Biden are between a rock and a hard place and Trump knows it. The progressive base of the Democratic Party is very favorable to the idea of sanctions. The party leadership is deadset against it. The party’s recently-announced list of platform committee nominees is loaded with vociferous Israel supporters, notably Ilyse Hogue, Randi Weingarten, Bakari Sellers and Dan Shapiro.

One Democratic congressman, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, praised the Trump plan. It is not just a coincidence that Gottheimer is considered a fundraising “machine”; and has outraised all other New Jersey House candidates historically. Gottheimer has raised $7.1 million and has raised $1.8 million for other Democratic candidates.

Trump is trying to drive a wedge between the progressive base and the leadership of the Democratic Party by portraying the Democrats as the party of BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions, which he calls a “disaster” for Israel. At a rally early this month Trump mentioned Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as supporters of BDS (though AOC has not gone that far) and smeared them as antisemites:

We have people in Congress. I don’t know where they come from. Five years ago, seven years ago, eight years ago, this is unthinkable what’s happening in Congress, but these people hate Israel, they hate Jewish people…Ten years ago if you think back there was a great love and today it’s the opposite. But I have made clear my administration strongly and forcefully condemns this dangerous campaign to inflict pain and turmoil on the state of Israel.

That was at a rally for evangelicals in Miami. Trump was working the issue with Christians, and got a lot of applause for the embassy move to Jerusalem, but no applause on recognizing the Golan.

I would argue that even that rally was pitched toward Florida Jewish voters reading his remarks. PBS News Hour had an eight-minute segment with two evangelical leaders, Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of “The Christian Post,” and Collin Hansen, the editorial director for The Gospel Coalition, a network of evangelical churches. Israel was never mentioned. The two spoke of the need for conservative judges, the freedom to pray, and abortion over and over. Never Jerusalem.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. JoeSmack on January 31, 2020, 1:28 pm

    Good

  2. JLewisDickerson on January 31, 2020, 2:06 pm

    RE: “At a rally early this month Trump mentioned Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as supporters of BDS (though AOC has not gone that far) and smeared them as antisemites . . . That was at a rally for evangelicals in Miami.” ~ Weiss

    ■ VIDEO (5:57) – Christian Leaders Pray Over Trump During Launch Of Evangelicals For Trump Coalition | NBC News
    LINK ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrBvMFJ_drs

  3. just on January 31, 2020, 6:10 pm

    Well, there goes a huge chunk of the US Constitution. *poof* What next? They gave away their power to declare war too long ago as well.

    The Republicans, minus Romney and Collins, should be booted. These Senators should be ashamed … I hope their constituents give them nothing but unending derision.

    • Maghlawatan on February 6, 2020, 9:33 pm

      God will.smite the GOP in November
      Zionism bet the house on them. Tsk tsk

      https://www.ft.com/content/c5bdccda-42f6-11ea-a43a-c4b328d9061c

      “The latest survey shows 2/3 of likely voters believe their finances have not improved since Mr Trump took office, despite a 7 per cent rally in the S&P 500 and 2.1 per cent economic growth in the 4th quarter.”

      “All other groups are significantly more dissatisfied — including white women, illustrating Mr Trump’s persistent gap with female voters. Only 33 % of white women believe they are better off financially now than they were in 2016”

      • echinococcus on February 6, 2020, 11:46 pm

        The Zionists (and God, too, by extension) have bet the farm on the US. Not one or the other aisle of the single War party but the whole system.

        Zionists are keeping alive only by their ability to maintain the “two-party” theater for the retarded and the people who need a credible pretext for pretending not to see what’s going on and so continue to cash in on their petty little war-profit privileges. Who the f*k do you think the Obamas and Clintons made all their wars for, if not the Zionists?

      • Maghlawatan on February 7, 2020, 11:05 am

        Zionism is Tammany Hall 2.0

        Stein,’s Law says if something cannot go on forever it will stop.
        In the handover from Labor to Capital post 1980 the loss allocation was brutal Zionism never helped Labor in the meantime.

        Watch out
        They’ll tear your insides out

        https://youtu.be/ainyK6fXku0

  4. JWalters on January 31, 2020, 8:13 pm

    Thanks for this overview of the US political dimensions of Trump’s total sellout to the criminals of Israel. Israel’s grip on American politicians and press is breathtaking. Pulitzer prizewinning war correspondent Chris Hedges has well summarized it here.
    “Israel’s Stranglehold on American Politics”
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/israels-stranglehold-on-american-politics/

    • Maghlawatan on February 7, 2020, 11:17 am

      It is not sustainable. US life expectancy is falling.
      Israel is a parasite and Zionists don’t give a flying fuck about Main Street Americans.

      The name of the game is power.

      Tammany collapsed
      Lehman collapsed
      Dixie collapsed
      Zionism will collapse.

      https://youtu.be/6dDbnwQlCek

  5. wondering jew on January 31, 2020, 11:18 pm

    If Sanders or Warren is the democratic candidate, Trump will do better against him/her than he did against Hillary for a variety of reasons primarily Israel but socio economic reasons as well. Biden will do fine against Trump among the Jewish voters and Trump will win over very few by this “peace plan” against Biden. And even without this peace plan he would have had an advantage among 3 – 8% of Jewish democrats in a contest with Bernie compared to running against Hillary.

    • Maghlawatan on February 7, 2020, 11:23 am

      Trump has 33% support amongst women.
      The economic situation in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio is not good. Factories have been closing.

      Trump will campaign on an everything is great basis. He needs women and the swing states.

      He is a beaten docket already.

  6. brent on February 1, 2020, 2:49 am

    Excellent overview of the big politics, and the benjamins at play.

    Trump was close to laying down his plan nearly two years ago. Abbas’ cut him off over the embassy move which forced a delay and limited his input. Then the Trump investigations continued after Mueller. His political survival became the issue with impeachment so he now needs powerful allies at his side. Survival.

    It is possible Trump anticipates his “vision” will effectively bury the two-state concept and put back on the big table the secular state he’d placed there a couple of years back with his “one state or two” comment. He’s bringing matters to a head…. a disrupter. If there is anything to this theory, it may be tragic if Abbas refuses or is unable to make the counter offer Trump is asking for. It will also be very healthy to have negotiations in public view. A counter would also limit Netanyahu’s ability to exploit Trump’s open vision.

  7. echinococcus on February 1, 2020, 7:42 am

    “To launch it in front of what we would call a partisan crowd at the White House with the prime minister of Israel standing next to the president did the plan no favors. It immediately gave it the sense of one-sidedness and gave it a political overlay that I would argue in some ways works against the interests of those who want this to succeed.”

    There you are. Conclusion #1: the Democratic “Party” objects to the way the last version of the attack on the Palestinians was presented, and it objects because the presentation is bad for its implementation, which the DP wants to succeed!

    “Trump’s calculation appears to be that he can do what Ronald Reagan did in 1980, and take a sizeable chunk of the Jewish vote, and also Jewish donors from the Democratic Party. Reagan doubled the usual Republican haul, getting 40 percent of Jews. Israel-related factors likely contributed to Jimmy Carter’s defeat.”

    Conclusion #2: unmistakable regarding what it says about the mass of Jewish voters, rather than what it says about this or that wing of the single party. In the aggregate, they don’t care about which aisle of the War Party they support — they care about implementing the Zionist criminal insanity, period.

    “The progressive base of the Democratic Party is very favorable to the idea of sanctions. The party leadership is deadset against it. The party’s recently-announced list of platform committee nominees is loaded with vociferous Israel supporters…”

    Conclusion #3: the “progressive base of the Democratic Party” looks like either a bunch of deluded ninnies or snake-oil salesmen, or rather the former led by the latter. Inescapable conclusion in the total absence of any signs to even suggest that such “progressive base” never had a say in anything that the DP does — nevermind what it says. Instead of gathering its force to destroy the Democratic Party and the “2-party” charade it reinforces it and regularly defeats its own wishes. Good job, sheepdogs of the day, Jackson and Kucinich and Sanders.

    #3 1/2: It’s even worse when the one hailed as “progressive” wins. The last of the line was a certain Obama and you did vote — remind me, how did that work out?

    • catalan on February 1, 2020, 8:27 am

      “It’s even worse when the one hailed as “progressive” wins. The last of the line was a certain Obama and you did vote — remind me, how did that work out?”
      I am also not a fan of the progressive wing.

      • Keith on February 1, 2020, 11:59 am

        CATALAN- “I am also not a fan of the progressive wing.”

        Shouldn’t that read “progressive” wing?

      • echinococcus on February 1, 2020, 1:06 pm

        Keith,

        English usage is under the control of the mob. You or I don’t control social consensus: as “nice” once used to mean “dolt”, “progressive” went the way of “liberal”, and even the CIA does “revolution” nowadays. Quotemarks are not helpful.

        Besides, you can’t ask a guy like this Catalan to make the distinction: he can’t stand progressives even if there existed any; he doesn’t like “progressive”- reactionaries either.

        Anyway, by specifying his personal dislikes he answered the all-pervading question that kept me awake many a night, wondering: “but what does Catalan think of this?”

      • catalan on February 1, 2020, 3:53 pm

        “Anyway, by specifying his personal dislikes he answered the all-pervading question that kept me awake many a night, wondering: “but what does Catalan think of this?”” echinococcus
        I am glad to have been of service :)

      • RoHa on February 2, 2020, 12:13 am

        “English usage is under the control of the mob.”

        This situation should be rectified as soon as possible.

      • Mooser on February 2, 2020, 2:07 pm

        “English usage is under the control of the mob.”

        If you spoke, as I do, “RoHa”, instead of the way you do, why, you might be selling flowers too!

      • Mooser on February 2, 2020, 2:08 pm

        “This situation should be rectified as soon as possible.”

        No doubt you’ve heard them down in Soho Square, dropping ‘aitches’ everywhere, speaking English any way they like!

      • RoHa on February 3, 2020, 12:12 am

        Mooser, repeat after me.

        “In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes …

      • Mooser on February 3, 2020, 1:43 pm

        “Mooser, repeat after me.”

        Aw c’mon, woodja, “RoHa”? Dis voibal cless distincti’n by now should be old-het, already.

  8. echinococcus on February 2, 2020, 10:58 am

    RoHa,

    Couldn’t agree more fervently. It must be done.
    Tell me how to lop off all unruly heads. Half-measures won’t achieve any results.

  9. CHUCKMAN on February 4, 2020, 3:32 am

    I’m sure that is an accurate assessment. Nothing done in Washington concerning Israel is without a deep political calculation.

    I’m sure Jewish voters are welcome, but the Jewish community in America only represents around two percent of total population. It might be important in key swing locations but, overall, it is quite a small. Just compare the roughly thirteen percent of population blacks represent in America, yet we do not see serious efforts to attract them away from the Democrats.

    However, Jewish votes undoubtedly come with campaign funds, and, in view of the relatively small number of Jewish voters, it is the campaign funds and ancillary supports that are certainly the main target.

    The remarkable success of American Jews in business, the professions, science, and the arts has made them a group of extremely important donors, whether in politics or other matters.

    So, the political calculation always involves money, which in American politics is “the mother’s milk.”

    The American political system itself has given money its central role in elections. It represents a self-inflicted wound.

    Congress never placed serious limits on campaign donations or serious limits on the activities of lobbyists, despite various debates and limited efforts over time.

    All establishment politicians, of both parties, benefit from the situation and have little motive to change it.

    That approach was then backed up and cemented into place by a Supreme Court ruling, about as bizarre as the old Dred Scott slave-era decision, that “money is free speech.”

    The Supreme Court justices, of course, all represent appointments made over the years from the same pool of establishment politicians who have never acted seriously to limit money’s role in elections.

    The system has many pernicious effects, but perhaps the most serious of all has been American foreign policy in the Middle East being put up for sale.

    Trump’s series of imperial diktats concerning Israel and matters he truly has no legal authority over have been a glaring example.

    America is in the position to issue effective diktats because of its imperial, military situation in the world, making it inclined to flaunt the authority of international organizations such as the UN, an organization much hated in Israel owing to its longstanding efforts to limit Israel to its original boundaries and to support many just claims by Palestinians.

    With a man like Trump, flaunting international organizations has its own, separate appeal. He has a huge streak of American nativism and xenophobia in him, and same characteristics define the nature of much of his base constituency.

    America has always had that ugly streak in its make-up. It may have either grown or diminished at times, and its targets have altered with changing circumstances, but it remains a constant presence. Up through the 1940s, American Jews themselves were included as targets. Everything from exclusive clubs refusing membership and Ivy League colleges sharply limiting acceptances to the Klu Klux Klan adding them to its list of hatreds.

    But that has changed, and I think there can be little doubt that it reflects the large role of Jewish money in American politics but also the emergence of re-created Israel as a focal point. American Evangelicals, as one large group who were not historically very friendly to Jews (remember, the KKK burned crosses as a threat), were much won over by all the Biblical associations and mumbo-jumbo of Israel.

    Truman’s experience in 1948, with immensely powerful lobbying for the recognition of Israel, headache-inducing delegation after delegation (read Truman’s memoirs), and then the miracle of winning an election he had been consigned previously to lose by virtue of new massive support given him, established the pattern we have to this day in Washington concerning all serious politicians and support and aid and favor for Israel. It literally has been woven into the country’s political fabric.

    Trump’s excesses on the topic of Israel are perhaps only slightly greater than Lyndon Johnson’s were, who, among other egregious bids for support, overlooked completely Israel’s vicious attack on the American spy ship, USS Liberty, during the Six Day War in 1967, the war that conquered the very territories Israel still occupies and Trump’s “peace plan” toys with.

    America has become trapped by its relationship with Israel, almost like some prehistoric animal that stepped into a tar trap ten thousand years ago in California.

    The endless, unwarranted hostility towards Iran (which Israel hates for its size and influence in the region, not for its threat to a nuclear power), the immense public subsidy given to Israel (about five hundred dollars per year per Jewish citizen of Israel), immense benefits granted in many contracts with Washington and in free trade and in the recognition of dual citizenship (something Washington did not do historically), plus still other matters, including ready access to the highest American officials and to America’s military-security establishment, access probably not equaled by even the best traditional American allies.

    And there is the whole matter of conspiring to keep Israel’s nuclear arsenal hidden and never questioning it. No one ever even asks whether Israel’s arsenal should be regarded in the same light as North Korea’s, and it is very much an appropriate question.

    Finally, we have the series of horrors called the Neocon Wars, which, on the whole have been an effort to destroy nations not compliant with American policy in the Middle East and, more or less, pave them over, almost resembling a vast 1960s urban renewal project, one which has cost maybe two million lives, the creation of tens of millions of refugees, some of whom almost destabilized Europe, and trillions of dollars. It has been organized vicious insanity, and Trump, in his original campaign, questioned it just a bit, while afterwards behaving as though he had never uttered the words.

    I don’t think it unfair to summarize the effects of Truman’s 1948 precedent plus America’s terrible laws about campaign funds and lobbying upon American politics and policy in that fashion. They have been deadly and represent a set of developments about which few ordinary Americans can be aware because they do not closely look at foreign affairs.

    Indeed, ordinary Americans’ total lack of interest in foreign affairs serves the Washington-Israeli axis well. Remember in the first campaign of George Bush, the President who launched the Neocon Wars, one of his campaign stunts in selected locations was laughingly talking about the way he ignored the “international section” when reading the newspaper. The people receptive to that kind of appeal are in Trump’s base, and they are blithely unaware of just how much America has invested in those very “international affairs.”

    Trump with his various initiatives concerning Israel has quite literally run a kind of giant public auction for large campaign contributions and the kind of persuasive support that often accompanies them, as in high-end news outlets, all of which tend to support Israel and those deemed to be working on Israel’s behalf.

    The auction has had a series of pieces “under the hammer,” from Jerusalem to the Golan and to membership in UNESCO and cutting aid to Palestinians, and now to the “peace plan.”

    Jokes are made about America’s having the “finest government money can buy,” but the situation hardly represents humor with millions of lives in the Middle East being directly affected by its workings.

    Trump’s effort I believe it also accurate to say, represents direct interference in the next Israeli election on behalf of Netanyahu, a close friend of son-in-law Jared Kushner and his family.

    It is all at least as unfair and underhanded as “the Washington political swamp” Trump supporters still love to naively attack.

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