President Trump
President Trump
Photo: Reuters
Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump

Trump doesn't really care about Israel

Opinion: What seems like unconditioned support for the Jewish state from the U.S. president is primarily a personal political survival mechanism – keep Christian right and Orthodox Jews fully united behind him

Tzipi Shmilovitz |
Published: 12.06.19 , 23:22
U.S. President Donald Trump's political base consists of three main groups: white men without a college education, Evangelist Christians and Orthodox Jews.
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  • That's a peculiar triangular alliance, but this is the audience Trump aims for at almost every one of his decisions on policy.
    פגישת בנימין נתניהו ודונלד טראמפפגישת בנימין נתניהו ודונלד טראמפ
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump
    (Photo: Reuters)
    In return, they give him absolute support, without which he would not have been elected president in 2016 and would not stand a chance of being re-elected next year – and Trump knows that.
    The Americans belonging to this triangle are the only ones Trump is careful not to offend and also the only ones he shows up before.
    Last week, Trump gave a speech in front of supporters from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York and publicly addressed Israel for the first time in weeks.
    He made a bad joke on the political situation in Israel – "they continue to have elections but nobody's getting elected" – and said that he has a "95 percent approval rating" in Israel.
    But the moment that best summarized Trump's mood was when he talked about the security situation in southern Israel as if he were a news reporter covering the subject: "It's crazy, missiles are flying and Israel is firing back.
    תומכי ליכודתומכי ליכוד
    Likud supporters waving a Trump banner
    (Photo: MCT)
    Trump saves his newscaster routine for issues that simply don't interest him and almost any situation that doesn't personally affect him doesn’t interest him, because the only thing Donald Trump cares about is Donald Trump.
    Whatever is going on between Israel and the Palestinians simply has nothing to do with him. He can't make money off of this, it can't help him politically. He'd probably have gotten involved if he thought it'd get him a Nobel Peace Prize, but he knows it won't happen.
    The days where U.S. presidents hurried to send their secretary of state to stop any round of fighting are over, and as the "Ukrainegate" fiasco - which triggered an impeachment inquiry against Trump - shows us, the days where presidents determined their allies according to America's interests, rather than the president's own personal interests, are also over.
    On the surface, what seems as Trump withdrawing from the Middle East falls in line with his separatist "America first" approach that helped him take the Oval Office in the first place.
    In actual fact, he isn't really withdrawing, he's only remobilizing the troops. He sent thousands of U.S. soldiers to Saudi Arabia at the request of his friend Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the decision to pull U.S. forces out of the Kurdish region in Syria was requested by another autocratic ruler, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
    Tukey, Trump, SyriaTukey, Trump, Syria
    Trump and Erdogan
    (Photo: AP)
    On the other hand, Trump's disregard for what is happening in Israel stems mainly from his disinterest. He's got an impeachment inquiry looming over his head, after all.
    Donald Trump doesn't really care about Israel and he certainly doesn't care about what happens the day after he leaves the White House.
    What seems like unconditioned support on Trump's side is primarily a personal political survival mechanism – keep the Christian right and the Orthodox Jews fully united behind him.
    On the instinctive level, on which Trump acts 90 percent of the time, he simply despises Muslims, besides the ones he can do business with.
    קמפיין בחירות של הליכודקמפיין בחירות של הליכוד
    A Netanyahu campaign billboard highlighting his close ties to Trump
    (Photo: EPA)
    That drives much of what looks like an open check he's been giving Israel over the past three years and allows him to sweep another significant part of his supporter base under the rug: anti-Semites.
    Israel is one of the few countries in the world where Donald Trump is popular and maybe moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem justifies this popularity, but along the way, the support Israel had from America's two biggest parties was destroyed.
    First published: 23:22 , 12.06.19
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