The big news from Donald Trump’s town hall on MSNBC last night was his pronouncement that he had to be “neutral” about the Israel/Palestine conflict because it was the toughest agreement in the world to pull off, he’s seen smart negotiators go down in flames over this issue, and therefore he doesn’t want to damage his own potential standing as a mediator by taking sides in public now. Vanity Fair covered it. So did the Hill.
And the moment is being hailed for political bravery. As a commenter at the Hill points out: “Can a Republican candidate that says ‘I will not stand with Israel’ win the nomination? I don’t see how.”
Though having watched Trump’s answer in the moment, I can tell you that he is utterly full of shit. Declaring that he would take no side, he DID take a side. He twice repeated an Israeli talking point about Palestinians. The second time he even said that an Israeli had told him as much.
You have both sides but you have one side in particular growing up and learning that ‘these are the worst people, these are the worst people, etc., etc… I was with a very prominent Israeli the other day and he said it’s impossible because the other side has been trained from the time they’re children to hate Jewish people. But I will give it one hell of a shot, I will tell you.
So having declared that he would take no side, Trump goes off on Palestinian political culture as being anti-Semitic. Without a consideration that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their lands– without any writ of eminent domain–and never compensated for their loss of property. Trump would hate the Israelis too if that happened to his house. And of course not considering the deep racism inside Israeli culture. No doubt this conflict is envenomed, but Israeli children grow up with a lot of racist indoctrination.
I think the correct translation of Trump’s comments are: I can’t say anything against the Israelis because it will piss them off too much. And a lot of people in U.S. business and media will get het up about the remarks too, so I won’t be able to get to square one when the time comes.
That’s an actual reflection of Trump’s gameboard. Like Hillary Clinton’s daughter, his married a Jew; so he has Jewish grandchildren. In fact, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who campaigns at times with Trump, had me fired at the NY Observer in 2007, because he’s an ardent Zionist who had teamed up with Dershowitz at Harvard. That’s the Zionist gameboard folks. (My editor my late great friend Peter Kaplan was also a Zionist, so Kushner was pushing on an open door. Our publisher Brian Kempner, who now works for Kushner’s real estate company, had worked at AIPAC, the Israel lobby. Kempner once explained to me that the Palestinians were angry because “we had pushed them out of their homes” — something I didn’t know till then, and resolved right then that that was not a “we” I wanted to be a member of.)