Stephen Oryszczuk

What will Trump do?

For Jews and for Israel, what President Trump does – as opposed to what he says he would do – is the billion-dollar question.

Abroad, he will make a lot of noise about Iran, but he will not tear up the nuclear deal, unless there is a significant military threat to Israel, at which point he would provide all the logistical support he could provide. To assuage critics, who remind him that he swore to ‘dismantle’ the deal, he may introduce new laws making it even more difficult for companies to deal with anything even remotely linked to an Iranian proxy, increasing the nervousness of big U.S. banks doing business in the Middle East.

His friendship with Russia means that, if he does decide to support a two-state push, he may give Vladimir Putin the nod to hold talks in Moscow. Putin and Trump would then share the glory if it came off, which it won’t.

Before 2017 ends, there will be a high-profile presidential visit to the Holy Land, with big smiles all round, as he ‘brings Bibi back in from the cold.’ But if President Trump does decide to move the American embassy to Jerusalem (something his Republican presidential predecessor George W. Bush and three other past presidents all balked at), he will likely do this in the first two years of his first term, or not at all. The odds are that he won’t, but this is no certainty – American Jews will remind him of his promise, and if he is not personally invested in hammering out a peace deal (he isn’t), it does make it easier.

Instead, he is far more likely to support laws linking Palestinian aid to educational reform in the Palestinian territories, insisting on the complete withdrawal of any reference to Palestinian fighters as heroes.

On military aid to Israel, he is unlikely to increase the $38 billion ten-year deal recently signed by Israel and the U.S. (if he were, Israeli negotiators would have held out for a Trump win), but he would be receptive to one-off military funding requests, providing the arms were bought from American companies. An Israeli scrap with Hezbollah would be motive enough.

At home, he may federalise a (so-far) state-by-state approach to ‘boycotting the boycotters,’ denying federal funds to any organisations, such as colleges, who boycott Israel. And, as far as he is constitutionally able, he will tighten race-hate laws, especially over online comments and anti-Israel activity on campus. He will do this by mentioning the word ‘terrorism’ a lot. American universities, once home of the counter-revolution, may therefore find that, under President Trump, supporting Israel Apartheid Week becomes illegal.

About the Author
Stephen Oryszczuk is the Jewish News Foreign Editor
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