Next Tuesday, New York Republicans will be asked which candidate they favor for the Republican nomination. Jews – particularly Jews who care about Israel – have only two viable choices: Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Donald Trump ought to be a nonstarter.
He ought to be a nonstarter because not only does he know nothing about Israel, his statements about the Jewish state exude both apathy and arrogance – a devastating combination for an American ally reliant on the president’s recognition of its moral superiority.
Trump has no foreign policy worldview, and he has no baseline level of knowledge. He isn’t teachable; he isn’t malleable. He is, was, and always will be motivated chiefly by self-glorification, and he sees his role in the Middle East as that of Peacemaker.
Israel faced self-appointed peacemakers in Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Such peacemakers quickly come to realize they will find no flexibility from the Jew-hating Palestinian Authority, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas. So, in their quest for continuing relevance, the peacemakers pressure Israel to concede to its enemies, all the while justifying such pressure by blaming Israel for its intransigence.
Trump will do the same. He is convinced of his own unstoppable capacity for cutting a deal between Israel and those who wish to wipe the Jews off the face of the planet.
“That’s probably the toughest deal in the world right now to make,” Trump blathered on MSNBC in February. “It’s possible it’s not makeable because, don’t forget, it has to last. A lot of people say an agreement can’t be made, which is OK, sometimes agreements can’t be made [and they are] not good. I will give it one hell of a shot. I would say if you can do that deal, you can do any deal.”
Asked last month by George Stephanopoulos about negotiating an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Trump dropped the word “deal” no less than 14 times in less than two minutes. Because cutting a “deal” with an entity dedicated to the destruction of its supposed peace partner is impossible, Trump refuses to acknowledge reality. Instead, he’ll ignore the moral component of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict altogether.
He says he wants to remain neutral: “Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I have friends of mine that are tremendous businesspeople, that are really great negotiators, [and] they say it’s not doable. You understand a lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So I don’t want to say whose fault it is – I don’t think that helps.”
Of course, it’s the only thing that helps. Failure to recognize evil means forcing good people into conceding to evil people. Trump’s comments are equivalent to stating that it will be nearly impossible to cut a deal with ISIS, but the only way to do so would be for the West to get off its high horse and stop proclaiming its moral superiority.
That strategy would get a lot of Westerners killed. In fact, it already has. Now Trump wants to try it on Israel, too.
The rest of his Mideast policy is similarly self-centered and principle-free. While Cruz and Kasich abhor the Iran deal, Trump says he’ll leave it in place and simply “enforce” it – nonsensical verbiage, since the deal itself does not contain any serious provisions for consequences snapping into place. Why not just kill the deal outright? Trump put on his dealmaker hat to explain: “I love to buy bad contracts….I will make that agreement so tough and if they break it, they will have hell to pay.”
This is verbal detritus.
But that’s just the start. Trump suggested this week that the way to stop Iran from utilizing its $150 billion windfall to fund terrorism would be to sell the Iranians defective missiles. Yes, really. He has suggested that the United States rely on the Russians to handle ISIS, then reversed himself and said he’d put thousands of troops on the ground, then reversed himself again.
Trump has a Jewish daughter. So what? Barack Obama had a Jewish chief of staff, and he’s the most anti-Israel president in American history.
Meanwhile, Senator Cruz is the most pro-Israel candidate in American history. Cruz has repeatedly stood up for Israel’s moral right to defend itself, has castigated Israel’s enemies as genocidal Jew-haters, has attempted to kill the Iran deal repeatedly, has pledged to move the American embassy to Jerusalem on the first day of his administration, has vowed to cut off all American aid to the Palestinian Authority, and says we should defund the United Nations and withdraw federal funding from any institution boycotting Israel.
Kasich, too, represents a far stronger pro-Israel voice than Trump. Here’s Kasich in February: “Israel has given a lot of stuff back. They gave Gaza back. How is that working out? They have everything launching into Israel. I don’t know how you get a two-state solution when people are walking into your country and stabbing people…. we are not going to bully Israel; it’s their survival.”
Kasich has also defended Israeli settlements: “Why are they building more apartments? Because it’s land; it’s security. I would never, ever, ever jeopardize the security of that country. Never.”
This is not a difficult call for those who are pro-Israel. Trump’s value system revolves around himself. His support for Israel ebbs and flows – but no person who declares himself neutral in a moral battle between Israel and its enemies deserves Jewish votes.