It is hard to overstate the appalling-ness of Donald Trump’s most recent statement regarding the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. To turn the literal butchering of a human being into an opportunity to chastise Iran and brag about jobs and low oil prices doesn’t just illustrate this president’s moral decrepitude; it highlights his rank sociopathy. There is nothing there. Just a vessel to fill with money and flattery. The rest of him is dead.
To think that he represents the nation I call home, the one in which my children were born, the one to which my father, z’l, turned as a Holocaust survivor, displaced person, and ultimately immigrant/refugee, lays my soul to waste. It makes me want to weep, to scream, to cry to heaven about how we’ve allowed ourselves as a nation to place this malignancy atop our government, to give him the power to remake our nation and our world in his craven, loathsome image.
What he has done to America–with the help of so many other Americans and with the support or silent acquiescence of every single Republican in Congress–is tragic and infuriating. But the recent midterm elections suggest that those of us who did not sell our souls for Supreme Court seats, for an embassy in Jerusalem, or for other “goodies” promised by the malignancy in the White House, are clawing back our democracy, vote by vote, state by state, locality by locality. But the damage already done is deep and will be hard to undo. And that is the point, isn’t it? To dig us into a national hole of shame and disgrace so deep, so scarring, that we may never reclaim what was best and brightest about us. The breathtaking cynicism and corruption undergirding all of this is just mind-numbing. But it is also real.
And what makes it even worse for me personally, is that the malignancy in the White House has an eager partner in a corrupt, self-centered, arrogant twin in Israel, in the person of Benjamin Netanyahu. A man who claims to be a defender of the Jewish people sold us out to a man who gleefully invoked anti-Semitic tropes, who referred to neo-Nazis marching with torches and declaring “Jews will not replace us” as “very fine people too” and who–whoops–even left Jews out of his barely there acknowledgement of Holocaust Remembrance Day. And those are just the things that jump immediately to mind. But Bibi has never missed a chance to bet on the wrong American horse (intentional echoes here of Abba Eban’s famous critique of the Palestinians). He was all in on the American invasion of Iraq, an immoral, tragic, and unjustified war that gave Iran–his declared uber-nemesis–a platinum opportunity to pursue nuclear weapons while we were bogged down in an unwinable, unending war. He doubled-down on his genius insights about American politics by going all in for Mitt Romney and openly disrespecting Barack Obama, a twice-elected President and a man who, coincidentally, signed off on the largest military aid package ever awarded to Israel by an American President, and organized a punishing international sanctions regimen against Iran. But never mind. Bibi needed a prop, a fool, a tool to manipulate at will to implement his vision of how things should line up in the Middle East. And he got exactly what he wanted–never mind Trump’s primary loyalty to himself and to Mother Russia
So we get the truly unholy trinity of the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The latter gave us a gift-wrapped package of mass murderers on 9/11, has hopscotched the globe funding radical Islam everywhere and anywhere, and is now run by a spoiled, narcissistic princeling who thinks lives are toys for him to throw around or out at will. His rank incompetence and brutality–to which the United States is an active accomplice in Yemen–is a stain on the American soul, since it is our bombs he is dropping on women and children. If there is a greater desecration of God’s name in this world, I’m not sure I know what it is.
So we come back to a statement about the butchering of Jamal Khashoggi which might as well have been co-written by Netanyahu, given its brazen and shocking focus on Iran, and its avoidance of the horrific FACTS regarding this journalist’s murder.
America has woken up and acknowledged its buyers’ remorse. Israel might or might not do the same with Netanyahu. But one thing is clear: bi-partisan support for Israel in the United States is dead. And Trump and Netanyahu killed it. Just as surely as MBS ordered the gruesome killing of a dissident Saudi journalist.