The situation in Israel can be confusing as hell for the majority of Americans who gain their information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict largely from online headlines, and where our educational system is either bereft or misleading on the topic. I learned about Israel for the first time from deeply Christian high school teachers, who had their own perspective, and where it concerns Israel, religion and politics gets all mixed up.
That is particularly so where it concerns Donald Trump. Most of my Jewish friends and family members are liberal. They do not like Donald Trump (in fact, 77 percent of American Jews disapprove of Donald Trump). However, it’s the inverse in Israel, where Donald Trump is more popular than Barack Obama was, and that might be confusing for some people who confuse progressive Jewish values in America with the more conservative Jews in Israel who — for obvious reasons — prioritize the Jewish state.
I’m not going to get into the long history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I support the Jewish state while conceding that both sides have compelling claims to the land. If you’re interested, I think this piece is incredibly instructive. It’s written by a Jew, but he really tries to piece together the narrative from both sides.
What I want to focus on is the issue that I feel far more comfortable discussing: Donald Trump’s role in Israel. Most Israelis obviously support the move of the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, according to one poll, only 16 percent of American Jews supported the move, because most Americans Jews — like the Presidents before Trump (both Democrat and Republican) — prioritize the peace and safety of the region over what is essentially a symbolic move.
Trump didn’t move the embassy to make American Jews happy. He didn’t do this to help the peace process, either — in fact, it will do the opposite. He did it for his evangelical base — did you note who was in attendance representing American’s interest? A Chabad Rabbi — who represents a tiny fraction of American Jews — and two evangelical pastors who literally believe that making Jerusalem the capital of Israel brings us closer to the End Times, to Armageddon.
“Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base,” the Jerusalem declaration “is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days. They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this,” she wrote. “They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies. For certain evangelicals, this is the climax of history. And Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire.”
In addition to the evangelical pastors, only Republicans were in attendance — there were zero Democrats, who represent most American Jews. This was never about them, anyway.
He also did it for the billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul who invested $30 million in Trump’s election, and who invested $70 million into the Birthright program. For spending millions and millions of dollars to get Trump elected, Adelson got a front row seat at the declaration while Israeli ministers sat in the third row. This was about settling up with Adelson, and for Adelson, it was about establishing a legacy.
Trump also did it to poke a stick in the eye of the Arab world, which his base hates. It’s the same reason he tore up the Iran Nuclear Deal in cahoots with Netanyahu — because they hate Iran. Because they want to go to war against the rest of the Middle East.
I am not saying that the Arab world and Iran is innocent here. It’s not like the leaders of some of the surrounding countries are great people. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by much the world; there are theocrats and fascists all over the place; the President of Turkey is a dictatorial son of a bitch; human rights are lousy in Iran; and the Middle East is a breeding ground for some militia groups. But it would be incredibly disingenuous for anyone to believe that moving the embassy had anything do to with advancing peace in that region. Donald Trump doesn’t give a shit about the peace process or the Palestinians (or Jews in America). This is about one thing for Donald Trump: Stoking and solidifying a base of evangelicals who are hostile to brown people.