The Trump visit: A humiliation this Israeli would rather forget

It’s hard to say that I have any fondness for the current Israeli government, or that I’m even proud of its accomplishments, but the events following the arrival of President Donald Trump have me feeling a disgrace that would be challenging to ever match.

It’s not only disgrace, it’s also shame. Shame for the people who are the policy makers in this country and the way they behave during such a highly covered event. As if crowning Trump as the Messiah of Israel wasn’t enough, treating him as if he is the sole person who can bring change to this country is worse.

It all started with Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, who, while shaking Trump’s hand after the President got off Air Force One, implored him to “recognize Jerusalem”. It’s a good thing that Bennet didn’t go down on his knees, kissing Trump’s feet while doing so, as it was already bad enough. But really, does Bennett think that after Israel annexed East Jerusalem, an act that no country recognizes to this day, Trump’s “words” might make everything better? A small reminder: During his campaign Trump repeatedly promised to move the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. After he was elected, the entire issue came to a grinding halt and somehow everyone seemed to have forgotten about it while talking to Trump, or while shaking his hand. So, a word of advice to Minister Bennett – if the guy isn’t moving the embassy, it must be for a reason. Also, you should probably know by now that even though Trump is very strong on talking the talk, when it comes to walking the walk, he’s, well… he’ll take the limo, or the helicopter.

Soon after that came the turn of Minister for Public Security, Gilad Erdan, who also used the opportunity of shaking Trump’s hand to “inform” him of a suspected terror attack in Tel-Aviv that claimed the lives of two people. Not only was that a false report (“fake news” in Trump’s parlance) of a terror attack by the time the words had left Erdan’s mouth, the fact that he “had” to even mention it was embarrassing. Using kindergarten tactics, Erdan came running to the teacher, with a false accusation, just to show him how Israel is such a poor soul, always harassed and picked on by others, and how the Palestinians won’t let them play peacefully with others. All as if he needs the teacher’s interference to make it through the day with no harm. Erdan later said that he didn’t have his phone, because of the tight security, so there was no way for him to know that the incident in Tel-Aviv was “certainly” no terror attack. Boy, oh boy, got to love the reasoning here…

Third, came the turn of the brightest of stars in Israeli politics – Member of Knesset Oren Hazan, who not gatecrashed the reception, but went as far as to grab the President for a quick “selfie” picture. While Hazan does this, Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands helpless from the side, torn between stopping this travesty and some other consideration that remains a mystery to me. Hazan’s “selfie” incident spread like wildfire not only on Israeli social media, bringing a wave of memes and jokes about the entire incident, but on international media as well, and they were not as comic about it as your typical social media jokers. I’d dare say that this will be carefully examined and studied in diplomacy classes for years to come on “how to avoid incidents with foreign dignitaries”. Hazan himself tried to justify his action by stating later that Trump was “OK” with it and was patient enough to wait until the phone was kind enough to work and take a picture of the two, adding that Trump is a “great guy” guy who is “cool” with informalities. Well, I’d like to hope that Trump now knows what being grabbed without consent feels like…

Last but not least was, with maybe the worst quote I managed to hear, none other than Prime Minister Netanyahu himself. During trump’s visit and dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence, Netanyahu told the President that “thanks to you (referring to Trump’s visit) we got the budget to paint the walls (of the Prime Minister’s Residence).” Are we the most remote, provincial, third world country around, that has no economy or even its own currency, or are we talking about the continuously acclaimed “start-up nation”? If you haven’t been around in Israel — there is no lack of funding for the Prime Ministers’ residence. He and his dear wife and family are not living on leftover food they get from kind-hearted donors, and their living conditions are probably better than those of the majority of this country’s citizens. I have no idea why Trump would even care about such a thing, but you kind of have to wonder what’s going on in that residence that would require mentioning the paint-job, perhaps bottles or shoes were flying around, smashing on the walls?

The Not-Being-Obama Prize

This farce, played by four key personas of the Israeli political sphere, is no less than an utter humiliation. I’m disgraced to say after it that I’m Israeli. Seeing these people treat the president of the United States as their savior and hero, as if he’s the one that passes laws here, or who could tell the Palestinians “that’s it! You’re not getting a state,” to the cheers of the Israeli right-wing. Some of them treat him like a divine rock-star, just for his words. Keep in mind that Trump plays for personal gain that in most cases, has to do with his making money. Since he has no serious ventures in Israel, unlike some Gulf countries, you should be quite assured he’s not going to do a thing to seriously jeopardize those – including saying things you want so badly to hear.

And the problem is that they forget we’re talking about his copious, but mostly inconsistent words. There was widespread and justified criticism when Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just after he got elected, perhaps just for not being George W. Bush. Here, in Israel, Trump is now getting the analogous honors, just for not being Obama, who was despised by the right-wing. But at least when Obama came to visit, even with all the bad-blood between him and Netanyahu, although the way politicians carried on was somewhat pathetic, it wasn’t half as bad as what we witnessed on Monday.

About the Author
Reuven Remez is a Graduate of the Hebrew University in international relations an history now pursuing a master’s degree in European studies.
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