Where is Donald Trump on Israel?

In addition, where is he on Jerusalem, Israel? Who knows? With Trump visiting the Jewish state next week and with him not waiting long to dive into the troubled waters of Mideast peacemaking, lots of people want to know.

The 45th president has been all over the place on a lot of issues and has even been prone to contradict or dissent from the talking points of his staff, including his vice-president. We saw this most recently with the chaotic firing of former FBI director James Comey.

And these last few weeks and days, statements from Trump and the White House have been causing some uncomfortable stirring among members of the Israeli government and diaspora Jews, many of whom in the United States supported Trump because they felt he would be a welcome change from the previous administration, and because of worries about Hillary Clinton.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump promised to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, and by the way, it would be West Jerusalem which has never been disputed. He has said it more than once, and made a show of it when he spoke to AIPAC last year.

Presidential candidates have promised this in the past only to change their minds once they enter the Oval Office. Some meant it, some never have. Many thought this time, with this guy, it would happen. I had my doubts. About a lot of things Trump actually.

When Trump was asked in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February if he really would keep his promise and when, he didn’t say yes and even estimate a general, non-specific when. Instead, he said, “I’d love to see that happen. We’re looking at it very, very strongly. We’re looking at it with great care, great care, believe me. And we’ll see what happens. Okay?” Officials in his administration have been following that lead.

Promises made, promises, well, maybe, could be, it’s possible, I have to see, I’m thinking about it, blah, blah, blah.

When Trump met with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, a couple weeks ago, he said, “I know President Abbas has spoken out against ISIS and other terrorist groups, and we must continue to build our partnership with the Palestinian security forces to counter and defeat terrorism.”

Abbas spoke out against ISIS? When? He did say not having peace could cause ISIS to infiltrate the immediate region, but how is that speaking out against ISIS?

And Abbas speaking out about terrorist groups? Are you kidding? Mahmoud Abbas, who has never backed away from his claims that pre-Israel Jewish leaders collaborated with the Nazis to kill Jews (hundreds of thousands to a million, not six million, according to Abbas) for sympathy purposes, has been inciting terror by word and deed. Both he and his Fatah Party henchmen. For years.

Some more recent examples:

– A year and a half back regarding lies about the Temple Mount, Abbas said this: “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, blood spilled for Allah.  Every Martyr will reach Paradise.”

– Not quite a year ago, Abbas brought back blood libel conspiracies by claiming in a speech to the European Union parliament that Israeli Rabbis were calling for the poisoning of Palestinian water.

– Soon after, one of Abbas’ advisers said, “If you ask me my blunt position, I would say — every place you find an Israeli, slit his throat.” Lovely.

– And of course, Abbas uses foreign funds, including US dollars, to pay families of terrorists, that is after he names landmarks after them.

It’s OK and important to be diplomatic, but c’mon, Donald! I wanted to throw up.

In advance of Trump’s trip to Israel, the White House’s social media director used the word “Palestine.” Words matter especially in delicate situations, and both Israel and the US don’t use Palestine except to refer to pre-Israel days when the British controlled Palestine within which resided both Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. There is no Palestine.

This past Sunday in a Meet the Press interview, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used “Palestine” when explaining why Trump was delaying (backing off of?) the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

And the latest faux pas? In a very recent logistics meeting about Trump’s trip to Jerusalem, a senior member of the prep team, in response to a request that Netanyahu join Trump at the Western Wall, nastily said the iconic holy place of the Jews was, “not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.”

What gives? Even Obama and his as-hostile-to-Israel crew knew better to know better.

Is Trump throwing a bone to Abbas ahead of his “dealmaking” negotiations, or does he not know what Abbas really is? And are Trump’s people trying to move in a direction that would make the Palestinians happy ahead of any talks, or are they just plain ignorant and as bumbling as their boss? I believe it’s the latter, but it is small comfort.

Jared Kushner, where are you?

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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