Barbara Diamond

Presidential thinking — outside the box

Observing President Trump could become a full-time profession.  For journalists who write daily, he is the inspiration for tomes of articles.  Not having to produce daily columns allows one the luxury of sitting back and taking the “long view.”

Immediately after the presidential inauguration, a close friend in a major Jewish organization confided that they had not yet found a liaison from the president’s inner circle to the Jewish community.  Apparently, as of two days ago, the situation remains the same.  Clearly, there needs to be a conduit for the benefit of both the administration and Jewish concerns.

In years gone by, as vice-president of WAIPAC, the Los Angeles based  “Women’s Alliance for Israel — Political Action Committee,” I had the opportunity to go to the White House and to lobby Congress for support of various Israeli concerns. It was far more difficult than I had anticipated. Frequently the response from a Congressman was: “50 percent of Israelis don’t support your argument.”  Those were the days when the Israeli electorate was split down the middle and it was so difficult for Israel to form a coalition government, that Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres took turns being prime minister.  My clearest memory of that quagmire was the different attitudes of the two leaders. When Shamir was prime minister, October 1983 – September 1984, Peres constantly appeared publicly expressing opinions which undermined Prime Minister Shamir’s authority. When Peres was prime minister, from September 1984 to October 1986, Shamir was silent and respected his coalition partner.  Little surprise that mere members of the US Congress did not know which side to support.  Diaspora Jews and Israelis were split down the middle on many issues.

In more recent years, there was an even more difficult period. Under President Obama, the only representatives of the Jewish community which had the ear of the administration were members of George Soros’ “JStreet.” This cleverly constructed organization was invited into the White House as proof that Obama had the concerns of the Jewish people at the forefront of his decisions. The problem of course was simply that JStreet and its’ ilk were not supportive of the survival of the State of Israel and cared more about their liberal agendas which supported Obama’s goals.

Having inherited this dichotomy in the Jewish world, it may well be that President Trump has decided to stand back from engaging the disparate factions inside the US Jewish community, which is itself constantly in disarray.  Instead he has embraced some very basic concepts;

  1. That the State of Israel is a vibrant democracy which deserves his support.
  2. That the State of Israel is the only Jewish state and that it is surrounded and opposed by 21 Arab nations intent on her demise.
  3. That the United Nations war against Jewish rights to their land, and their history proves it is not an honorable institution which lacks legitimacy on many levels.
  4. That the State of Israel is definitely not an apartheid state.
  5. That 1.5 million Muslims live in peace in security in the Middle East, and they all live within the State of Israel.
  6. That previous classic channels of communication with the American Jewish community may need re-evaluating before Individuals are put into place to hear their concerns.
  7. That growing visible anti-Semitism worldwide cannot be ignored.
  8. That Israel is an essential partner in the critical battle to defeat ISIS and those who wish to impose fundamentalist Islam on the free world,

In classic Trump fashion, he does not reward those who disparage him. The media is a perfect example. They want to destroy the president, and thus he keeps them at a distance.  The American Jewish voters as a whole deserted the Trump campaign.  He is not likely to rush to facilitate their access to him.  By contrast, the Americans living in Israel, through the campaign managed by newly selected Ambassador David Friedman, did overwhelmingly support the Trump presidency.  Those who did, have been rewarded mightily through his visit to the Middle East, his support of the State of Israel, the appointment of Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations and the appointment of David Friedman as the US Ambassador to Israel. American Jews should be heartened by the support their religious homeland has received thus far.

Trump’s decision to put the moving of the American Embassy on the back burner was not a desertion of Israel or the Jewish people, but a savvy political maneuver. Postponement of this decision was required so it could not be used as an excuse to refuse to move forward in the effort to find a solution to the current impasse in the so-called peace negotiations.   I predict that Trump will in fact come to the conclusion that Abbas has no intention to ever make any kind of peace treaty with Israel and that will be the day of the formal announcement of the movement of the American Embassy to Jerusalem.  It is reasonable to resist putting stumbling blocks in the way of a hoped-for peace negotiation.  But this president is unlike others. A time will come when his patience will run out and action will be taken.

Thinking out of “the box” is what makes Trump so interesting.  Anyone who thinks that the basketball star Dennis Rodman made five trips to North Korea just to have some delicious meals with Kim Jong-Un was born under the proverbial cabbage patch.  No one goes to North Korea without a very good reason. The reported “fact” that Rodman is the only individual who is actually friends with both leaders, is hardly an irrelevant issue.  Trump saw a crevice which could be opened as an entry into a most difficult situation. Of course, he knew why Rodman was going to Korea. Rodman alluded to this in a television interview himself. This brilliant move towards opening a line of communication between two totally opposing powers is the stuff that changes the futures of nations.  Any communication with North Korea which is not saber-rattling is of value. The return of a politically irrelevant imprisoned college student to his family was a minuscule concession but a back-channel opening, nonetheless.

President Trump is clearly focusing on the areas he finds most crucial at the moment.  His priorities may not be yours or mine.  Much is being demanded of him at a most difficult time in history.  I for one, am prepared to give him time to evaluate, learn and move forward.  His detractors have plenty to keep them busy for days on end.  The news frenzy will continue to entertain us all. Being a world leader requires “a strong back” and very “thick skin”!

About the Author
Born in the Washington DC area, Barbara has been a pro Israel activist for over four decades, having had a radio show in Jerusalem called "Barbara Diamond One on One" , doing in depth interviews which aired in Israel and in the UK. She participated in missions to the USSR to meet with Refuseniks, to Ethiopia with a medical team to help the Jewish villages and to China to open up relations prior to China recognizing the State of Israel, She has been pro-active lobbying congress and helping to start a Pro Israel PAC in Los Angeles. She stays involved through the Jerusalem Press Club attending up to the moment briefings which she would like to share with the readers. Ms. Diamond is the author of the new website - and is the 2018 recipient of the "StandWithUs"-Israel leadership award.