Thursday, January 19, 2017

  • Thursday, January 19, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
The right-wing of the pro-Israel community is quite happy with most (not all) of the news stories about the impending Donald Trump presidency.

This happiness should be tempered.

This is not the time to celebrate victory. This is the time to take advantage of the opportunity of a limited amount of time to secure Israel for the next century. After all, Trump will no longer be president in eight years and two days, and very possibly sooner in four years.

His successor is unlikely to be remotely like him. More likely, given that the pendulum of American politics has been swinging higher and higher with each succeeding president since Clinton, Zionists need to plan for this coming four or eight years with the thought in mind that the next president could be a Keith Ellison-type.

This means that the focus shouldn't be only on what President Trump will do over the next few years, but on how White House decisions now can help Israel over the next century or more no matter who succeeds him.

It is a time to think strategically.

The Trump election brings many challenges. One of them is that, in a perverse way, it is a victory for the J-Street raison d'etre - it cements the split in the American Jewish community that J-Street (amd the Obama administration) has championed. The visceral hatred for Trump among liberal Jews could very easily translate into a knee-jerk opposition to all of Trump's policies, including on Israel. After all, most liberal American Jews identify more with liberalism than with Zionism (or Judaism.) While Israel is a cause that liberals can and should rally around, Trump's divisive personality could drive otherwise sympathetic Jews away from supporting Israel because of Trump. It may not be logical but Trump derangement syndrome is just as bizarre as Israel derangement syndrome.

Trump's Jewish advisors should portray Israel in terms that everyone can agree upon. Israel is a strategic asset, an island of democracy and freedom in a sea of dictatorships, a liberal and creative country that can (and wants to) help the entire world in medicine, energy and innovative ways to fight terror. The Trump team must not use Israel to stoke the divisions within American Jewry that threaten the entire community. (It isn't hard to portray Israel in a positive light to both the left and right. I've been doing it for 12 years.)

Helping the US Jewish community come back together is a strategic priority, and whatever differences that American Jews have over specific Israeli policies can be discussed rationally and with the understanding that Israelis are the ones who decide who their leaders are and if you support Israel you should support the democratic decisions of the Israeli people.

The incoming White House can also help achieve peace between Israel and the Arab world in other ways. Out of the box thinking is called for, and a President Trump loves thinking out of the box.

Here' are some Trumpian ideas that could help Israel and peace over the coming decades.

Jibril Rajoub, terror supporter, has brilliantly used sports to demonize Israel. Two can play at that game - especially with US help..

Israel is in Asia, yet it doesn't compete in Asian sports leagues - because the Arab and Muslim world refuses to play against Israel. This is a bias that has been accepted even by Israel, which has been forced to play in European leagues.

A Trump administration could push the idea that Israel is part and parcel of the Middle East, and Jews are indigenous to the region. It is outrageous that Israel cannot be treated geographically like every other nation and the Arab world's hatred is rewarded by allowing Israel to be excluded. From now on, Israel plays against other Asian teams, and any team that refuses to play is automatically expelled from all world sports bodies. (Same for any country that does not adequately protect the Israeli players who visit for matches.)

If Asian nations refuse, Israel has a much better chance of winning Asian championships, and it will represents the continent in all global sporting events, by default, while Arab and Muslim nations fume. (Iran will try to set up an alternative league. It will fail because Sunnis hate Shiites more than they hate Jews.)

 You can imagine the effect that this would have in the Arab world. It would do more to encourage peace with Israel and a thousand "peace" conferences.

It is also something that Democrats and Republicans can easily agree on.

The US can do the same with the UN, where Israel is similarly marginalized. As long as the Jewish state is not eligible for various chairs and leadership positions because of Muslim hate, the countries that object should be the ones to be kicked out of those committees - at the risk of the UN losing US funding.

Another issue that can be tackled, also from the perspective of universal human rights, is to end the Arab League's official discrimination against Palestinians, barring them from becoming citizens if they want. This can be done in tandem with a campaign to weaken and ultimately end UNRWA.

There are some 280,000 Palestinians in Saudi Arabia who cannot become citizens, and another 100,000 in the UAE. In general, Palestinians are more creative and industrious than other Arabs and their presence is an advantage to their host countries outside the areas where UNRWA is. The US can encourage the already warming relations between the Gulf states and Israel by pushing those states to offer citizenship to Palestinians in line with their laws allowing citizenship from every other Arab countries. Tens of thousands of Palestinians would eagerly apply to become citizens (just as they have when limited numbers could become citizens in Egypt and Lebanon) and the myth that Palestinians want to remain stateless would be shattered, providing a way to end the UN's myth that Palestinians do not want to integrate into other countries. The Palestinians, free to raise their families there, would energize the economies of their host countries. The US can in return provide economic incentives to Gulf nations and sponsor "under the table" cooperation with Israelis in areas where there are common interests - Iran, building a non-oil based economy, agriculture, medicine - that would eventually become an open secret.

Similarly, the US can give Egypt economic incentives to allow its Palestinians to become citizens (and to allow some Syrian Palestinians to integrate into Egypt as well.)  For Jordan, the US can phase out its UNRWA contributions and offer it to Jordan to get the Palestinians who are already citizens to move out of camps and into proper communities. (And also to encourage Jordan to integrate the Palestinians from Gaza who have been there for nearly 50 years.) Lebanon could be pressured to naturalize its Palestinian citizens as well, although there would be fierce opposition - if Lebanon is treated like the apartheid state it is, with entertainers boycotting it because of its discriminatory laws against Palestinians, then things could change.

In tandem, the US should also push for a unified, UNCHR definition of "refugee" that covers only real refugees and takes out the Palestinian loophole that justifies keeping them stateless forever.

No real liberal could oppose such plans, and it would do more to help both Palestinian Arabs and Israel move to a new era. If Palestinians don't want to become citizens of their host countries, they of course don't have to, but to bar the many Palestinians who do want to become naturalized is a massive violation of human rights that could be fixed by a Donald Trump.

These are just a couple of ideas, but the point is that if they are implemented correctly, they cannot easily be rolled back. There are probably many others that could help Israel's position, based on simple fairness and equality that everyone can agree on.

Now is not the time to sit back and expect things to be great for Israel from now on. Now is the time to be smart and make the great things happen.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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