Photo: EPA
Netanyahu and Trump
Photo: EPA
Orly Azoulay

Netanyahu is playing with fire

Opinion: Netanyahu got Israel into a hot mess when he followed Trump's lead and banned Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country; he brags about how he has endless American support, but he is the one that made Israel lose its bipartisan status with the Congress

The damage that Israel would have suffered had it allowed congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to visit the West Bank, would have been miniscule in comparison to the colossal catastrophe that it suffered when it declined their visit — which was entirely due to Trump's meddling.



It was 140 characters on Twitter that reversed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision, after having already decided to allow the two women in, to then reverse his decision. That's how this ridiculous story started.


Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar (Photo: EPA)
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar (Photo: EPA)


Let's assume that the two would have gone date-picking in Rashida's grandmother's village, and then have a press conference in Ramallah in order to expose the wrongs of the occupation. They would have talked about the poor conditions, the fear, the lack of hope. About life under an occupying force.


The truth is, that the world doesn't need Tlaib and Omar in order to learn about the horrors of the occupation. Reading foreign media is enough.


Israel could have gently prevented the storm of this visit if it had offered the two a meeting with the other side and organized a meeting with people who can widen their knowledge about the conflict. They could have showed the congresswomen all the beautiful things that we still have here.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


If they would have declined, Israel would have looked democratic and generous, and would have prevented the colossal damage of the Jewish state becoming a one-party agenda. Israel enjoyed bipartisan support but has now lost its special status as an entity the exists beyond American politics.


The only winner in this saga is U.S. President Donald Trump. He got exactly what he wanted from his good friend Netanyahu: the two women were humiliated, and he was able to present the entire Democratic party as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. A good one for his populaity among his base of supporters.


The big loser is the State of Israel. Trump gave Netanyahu the recognition of Jerusalem as capital and the annexation of the Golan Heights, the transfer of the embassy. But there are no free meals in Washington, and it's pay day.


And it gets worse: this incident dragged into the American discourse issues that Israel doesn't want to be flaunted, like, whether it is worthy of the massive financial support it receives if it prevents American lawmakers from entering its territory.


And when this is what the discourse is about, anti-Semitism is quickly sparked. Liberal politicians, who might have wondered, mostly amongst themselves, if the occupation is moral and how far has the deterioration of democracy in Israel gone, now speak openly about it.


The word Apartheid is back in the political discourse. The Democratic Party, that was careful not to disrespect Netanyahu, has stopped hiding its contempt of him. The harsh criticism is now on the table rather than under it.


Trump is good for Netanyahu. The symbiosis between them aids both of them politically. But Trump is bad for Israel, and the way in which he got Netanyahu to change his mind about the visit, put us in the position of a protégé country.


U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)
U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)


On the day after Trump, Israel will have to face disastrous consequences. The Democrats won't forget how Netanyahu treated them. Netanyahu, who bragged about how he has endless American support, has become the person who lost Israel's favor with the U.S. Congress.


That's called playing with fire.


פרסום ראשון: 08.18.19, 20:57
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