The last days of Pompeo (in Jerusalem)?

Some rough back-of-an-envelope math:

The United States has about 40 times Israel’s population.

Israel has suffered nearly 250 COVID-19 fatalities.

At the same rate, the US death toll should be around 40 x 250 =10,000.

But it’s actually going to top 80,000 within a day or two, and the steep climb continues, as Trump and his red-state followers pursue premature “reopening.”

In other words, Trump has accomplished the mission-almost-impossible of making Netanyahu look pretty good.

So maybe it’s not what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells Bibi this week, but what Netanyahu can tell him. If not advice — which Trump, notoriously, ignores — then maybe a ringing public endorsement of the increasingly desperate reelection bid by Israel’s “best friend ever.” But Netanyahu might be well advised to keep, well, social distance from his guest. Since Trump won’t wear a mask, here’s hoping that Pompeo does wear one in his talks here, after his own contacts in the White House. He should, by rights, be eligible like all arrivals from abroad for a two-week quarantine, and he’s actually coming from a hot outbreak scene.

The S-o-S might be delivering an impassioned SOS: Please, don’t try to make good on that “Deal of the Century” thing by annexing the West Bank or parts thereof. You know — because Jared Kushner and David Friedman told you — that we only meant it as an election-season spin for your benefit, not anything to actually do. The Donald, Pompeo might plead, has enough on his plate as is, especially since the plate is served by a valet who has tested positive. And he can’t even ask Stephen Miller what to do, because Miller’s wife, who happens to work for the other Mike (Vice President Pence), has the virus too. And Jared already has moved on to bigger things, such as helping an ex-Israeli con man to bilk New York State of millions for nonexistent ventilators.

Rest easy, Mike — Bibi might tell Pompeo, at a two-meter distance — the Supreme Court has just given me a pass, on condition that I post “kavei yesod” (a program) for my “emergency” coalition with Benny Gantz, and we have clarified that its agenda will be exclusively coronavirus-related for six months. No other major policy positions to be taken till then.

Let’s run another back-of-the envelope calculation: six months? That puts us just past the US election, unless Trump too finds a way around his constitution to stay in power.

How convenient.

Or maybe Netanyahu, like a certain president of Ukraine, may be told that “we’d like you to do us a favor, though”: produce some dirt about Joe Biden. Not that Joe is incapable of messing up on his own — he’s done it before. But it will really have to be a big one this time to disrupt Trump’s reverse coronation.

About the Author
Gideon Remez, formerly head of foreign news at Voice of Israel Radio, is an associate fellow of the Truman Institute, Hebrew University. The views expressed here are his own and not the Institute's.
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