Donald Trump and Jerusalem

Yet again: How to grasp Trump

Once again, President Trump has mystified politicians and pundits alike — this time by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, seemingly in defiance of all logic.

'We were here first,' and other dubious logic. (Photo:via Creative Commons/Wikipedia.)

  • A New York Times editorial: “His decision to tip the scales toward Israel on this critical matter . . . almost certainly will make an agreement harder to reach by inflaming doubts about America’s honesty and fairness as a broker in negotiations.”
  • Peter Beinart in the Atlantic: “For Donald Trump, Muslim barbarism is a political strategy. It inspires the fear and hatred that binds him to his base.”
  • Syndicated columnist Dana Milbank: “He's blowing things up by rewarding Israeli hard-liners, empowering Islamist hard-liners and setting back hopes for peace. Doesn't he ever get tired of losing?”
  • Philadelphia  Inquirer foreign affairs columnist Trudy Rubin: “Trump’s Jerusalem speech — far from delivering a new approach — closes the door to negotiations in the near term and possibly the long term. . . . Trump called his speech ‘very fresh thinking.’ That it is not.”

Unconventional wisdom

Something tells me these experts don’t read Broad Street Review. Had they done so, they would have grasped the essence of Donald Trump, as I explained it here barely three months ago:

“In any given situation, Trump will take the action that makes waves or creates headlines, even if it makes no moral, political, or practical sense. How else to explain his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, his decision to exclude transgender citizens from the military, his singular refusal to condemn white racists in Charlottesville, and his current attempt to deport 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants? From a narcissist’s perspective, how can you attract attention if you simply endorse conventional wisdom?”

As Keats put it in his Ode on a Grecian Urn, “That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Intellectual support

Meanwhile, on the op-ed page of the New York Times last week, a prominent Israeli thinker sought to provide intellectual support for Trump’s latest exercise in grandstanding. Shmuel Rosner’s case for international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital boiled down to two arguments: “We were here first” and “Might makes right.” By that dubious logic, just about everybody reading this column would have to pull up stakes and return from whence their ancestors came.

Even Israelis had discarded these outmoded arguments by the time I first visited the nation in 1974. By then, the prevailing Israeli justification was: “We deserve this land because we’ve demonstrated better stewardship than the Arabs have.”

We Jews like to think of ourselves as the “light unto the nations.” Jerusalem’s status aside, can’t we develop a better guiding principle for sovereignty over land — one that embraces universal notions of justice, not to mention the free movement of people? 

















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