To demonstrate that a new chapter is about to be written in US-Israeli relations – a chapter different from the one written by the Barack Obama administration. President Trump might not feel obliged to deliver on all of his promises towards Israel (see his recent remarks on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem), but he does want to signal to Israel and to the world that the days of friction are over. At least for now.
Time and understanding. No surprises, no taking for granted Trump’s support for every move, no taking advantage of the early days of an administration that doesn’t yet know what it is doing. He also wants to know what’s really important for Israel (and why) and what issues can be negotiated.
The list is long, but it begins with something that both leaders want: a signal that the US and Israel are once again on the same page, and a signal that the US intends to go back to a no-daylight policy towards Israel. That is, to coordinate as many moves as possible and prevent a situation in which differences are aired in public. On principle, Trump is going to agree to this. But his character might be an obstacle to implementing it.
Geostrategic matters, starting with Iran. Israel would like to ensure that Iran does not get an opportunity to strengthen its hand further because of America’s lack of interest, commitment, or understanding of the situation. A delicate matter that needs to be discussed between the two leaders is Russia’s involvement in Syria and what it means for the US and Israel’s wish to see Iran contained. Netanyahu would like to present to Trump the opportunity that exists in bolstering the cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab states (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan) and the importance of this unofficial makeshift coalition for the containment, or even rolling back, of Iran.
Netanyahu is under no illusion that the agreement will be promptly abandoned by the US. So his hope is to see two possible developments: 1. A more robust policy by the US concerning issues that were not covered by the agreement (Iran’s support for terrorism, Iran’s missile program), 2. An intention to see the agreement extended beyond the 15 year period it currently covers, after which Iran is pretty much free to become a military nuclear power.
The peace process – or the relations with the Palestinians – is not high on Netanyahu’s agenda. But it will surely be discussed. Netanyahu is going to argue that a better approach to this issue is looking at it from a regional perspective – namely, as one of the things that a more robust alliance involving Israel and the Arab states, and supported by the US, can deal with. The Palestinians need Arab support, without which they are not likely to make any significant move towards peace. Israel needs to see a benefit in negotiation beyond being nice to the Palestinians. If the Palestinian issue is one item of a broader Middle East peace agenda, that might work.
On settlements, and President and the Prime Minister can easily agree. If one carefully reads Trump’s language on this issue, one realizes that this President is ready to go back to an arrangement similar to the one agreed on in the Bush-Sharon letter. That is: Israel can build and develop the main settlement blocs, but can’t build new settlements. Such an understanding would benefit Netanyahu in two ways: 1. It will give him something tangible with which to demonstrate to Israelis that he achieved something. 2. It will give him a way of demonstrating that his more adult-like approach to dealing with the settlement issue bears more fruit than the confrontational approach advised by his critics on the right, especially by Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennet. For the president, this could be an easy way to demonstrate that 1. Trump is no Obama (whose administration did not accept that Bush-Sharon understanding as valid) and 2. That he takes a middle-of-the-road, pro-peace, and pro-Israel stance on this issue.
Sure. You might remember that the first Obama-Netanyahu meeting was quite contentious. So for Trump to have a positive first meeting with the Prime Minister is the easiest path to showing that things have indeed changed in US-Israel relations. For Netanyahu, it is essential to have a positive first meeting, as one thing is clear: getting on Trump’s wrong side is not a recommended policy.
This is Donald Trump. Surprises are no longer surprising.
Published in the LA Jewish Journal
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.