From what I gather, Donald Trump feels that the Washington establishment and the American news media have not given him sufficient credit, if any at all, for advancing U.S. policy promoting Israel while he was POTUS. Trump has a point.
The enterprising Mr. Trump took double-talking U.S. policies toward Israel and elevated them from de facto to de jure status. His successor, Joe “I am a Zionist” Biden, has opportunistically piggybacked on what the much-denounced Trump accomplished with his pronunciamentos and a stroke of the pen.
Item. What Trump did was to drop recognition of Tel Aviv as the capital of Zion. Benjamin Netanyahu wanted the U.S. embassy moved to Jerusalem and for the U.S. to officially recognize Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, as the capital of “the Jewish state”. Trump grandstandingly complied.
East Jerusalem had been captured from the Arabs in 1967 and was soon annexed. The Palestinians had hopes that East Jerusalem might be the capital of their future rump state as part of the so-called “two-state” solution. Alas, the “peace process” on this central question ended at the turn of the century when the Camp David summit blew up.
Item. What Trump did was to recognize the Israeli annexation (1981) of the Syrian Golan Heights. Washington now regards it as part of Israel proper. This Syrian territory, like Jerusalem, was captured in the 1967 war. Naturally, Syria wants the Golan back. No one aside from Washington and Tel Aviv considers the Golan Heights to be part of Israel.
Item. What Trump did was to pull the plug (2018) on Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—which deal normalized U.S. and European relations with Iran and purportedly stopped Iran from making a nuclear bomb.
[Please note: Obama conveniently failed to disclose at the time that Iran was not developing nuclear weapons, even through that was the entire premise of the protracted negotiations. Iran’s supreme leaders had outlawed such weapons on religious grounds. There was no actual danger, then or now.]
Nuclear-armed Israel—complete with advanced German U-boats—did not want rapprochement between Iran and the West under any circumstances. It wanted continued demonization and isolation of Iran, because Iran was the only country in the Middle East speaking out on behalf of the vanquished Palestinians.
Netanyahu and his enablers in the U.S. wanted to destabilize and destroy Iran with ongoing U.S. and E.U. economic embargoes. That prescription amounted to warmongering all the time. Why do it, when Iran is not a threat to the U.S. or Europe? To his credit, Obama must have realized this.
Item. Trump did more than just kneecap JCPOA. For good measure, and to earn additional kudos with Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby, Trump next (January 2020) ordered the assassination of the Iranian hero, General Qassem Soleimani, in a drone attack at the Baghdad, Iraq airport where Soleimani had arrived for peace talks with Saudi Arabia. Soleimani had been leading the fight against Sunni Jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
Trump and his Neocon Secretary of State, Mad Mike Pompeo, brazenly lied about Soleimani (“the biggest terrorist in the world”) as justification. They boasted about this extrajudicial execution, believing it to be good for domestic politics. In short, the drone attack was gratuitous and cynical, wild and crazy.
Team Biden has happily adopted all these faits accomplis in service to Israel. Biden gave no credit to the much-despised Trump who was entirely responsible for them. Biden continues to implement Trump’s self-serving, politically-motivated policies.
Contrary to expectations and promises, Biden did not reconstitute Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran which Trump trashed. Instead, Team Biden went through the motions of “renegotiating” JCPOA but with new impossible conditions. Today even that time-wasting charade has been abandoned, with all blame predictably assigned to Iran.
To the best of my knowledge, Obama did not object or criticize Trump and Biden when Obama’s only significant foreign policy accomplishment was thrown to the winds. Moreover, after first expressing dismay, the feckless and hypocritical Europeans sat on their hands.
France, England, Germany and the EU signed JCPOA, and Iran had not breached the agreement in any way when President Trump unilaterally trashed it. The Trump White House then warned European companies not to conduct business with Iran or face U.S. sanctions. The Europeans collapsed like wet noodles.
I recount these recent episodes of Washington’s intervention in the Middle East because of an op-ed in the New York Times of a few days ago entitled Will the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Be Built on Confiscated Palestinian Land? The author is Rashid Khalidi. He is a professor at my alma mater, Columbia University.
Team Biden is doubling down on Trump’s Jerusalem démarche. The piggyback continues unabated. The U.S. State Department, led by Antony Blind Man Blinken, is seeking to build a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on private land stolen from Palestinians, part of it from Khalidi’s own family.
Outlandish, embarrassing, horrible, unseemly and stupefying are some of the words that come to mind when contemplating the record of U.S. Middle East policy. Read Khalidi’s informative article for wider background. The spectacle of the Israel Lobby wagging the dog (Uncle Sam) remains alive and well after decades of practice.
With Benjamin Netanyahu—aka King Bibi—back in power, the true scope and nature of the Tel-Aviv/Washington relationship will become too obvious for even the slippery, mendacious Biden White House to deny.