What do Jewish Americans think of Netanyahu?
USA and Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu has led his country to a dead end
It is probably not an exaggeration: what Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Thursday may well damage the special relationship between the US and Israel for a long time to come. As is so often the case, under considerable pressure Netanyahu has taken an absurd zigzag course by simply reversing a decision that has already been made and then ordering the opposite.
What happened? Some time ago, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib announced that they would travel to Israel and visit the Palestinian territories. The two women are the first Muslim congressmen in US history, they belong to the Democratic Party, they are young and - alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - have been the focus of media attention since the recent congressional elections. Ilhan Omar attracted attention several times with anti-Semitic remarks and repeatedly had to apologize for them. You and Rashida Tlaib advocate the BDS movement, so they are supporters of the boycott movement against Israel, which in large parts uses deeply anti-Semitic arguments against the Jewish state. Rashida Tlaib also calls for a single state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, which would mean nothing other than the end of the Jewish state. When the two women announced that they wanted to travel to the region, it was clear that Israel had good reasons to be more than skeptical and to consider whether it would let Omar and Tlaib into the country. But it was quickly decided that she could not be turned away. For democratic reasons, but also so as not to strain relations between the USA and Israel. What would it have been like if the Jewish state had rejected two elected US Congressmen?
Netanyahu, the political professional, knew all of this, and so the okay from Jerusalem was purely a matter of form. On Thursday, however, came the U-turn. The reason: US President Donald Trump wanted it that way. It had been simmering behind the scenes for a long time. And then that afternoon came a tweet from Trump: "It would express great weakness if Israel allowed Omar and Tlaib to visit the country. They hate Israel and all of the Jewish people, and nothing can be said or done to their opinion to change."
Netanyahu is putting secure US support at risk
What was Netanyahu's choice but to obey the White House's "wish"? The Israeli prime minister's long-standing policy of seeking only the support of the Republicans and opposing the Democrats now put him under pressure.
The relationship between him and the Democratic President Barack Obama, whom he betrayed, demonstrated and reprimanded in public on several occasions, was shattered. Since then, the relationship between the Democrats and Netanyahu's Israel had cooled noticeably. In their eyes, Netanyahu's unequivocal support for Donald Trump made him the stooge of a president who not only divides the American nation but tramples on the rules of the democratic-liberal basic order. Israel threatened its status under Netanyahu bi-partisan issue, as an important and unquestionable issue for both American parties. With Thursday's decision, however, Netanyahu could have damaged relations not only with the Democrats but with the majority of the American nation for years, and the Jewish state may no longer automatically rely on the secure support of the USA in the future.
Because even if there is currently an "old white man" sitting in the White House, America of the future is in the majority of color, so: colorful. Young blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others will soon determine the image and politics of the US, and most of them are closer to the Palestinians than Israel. For young American citizens, the Holocaust and Israel's wars, in which the young state struggled to survive, are history. Incidentally, this also applies to the majority of young American Jews who have long been unable to identify with Israeli politics. Even the powerful Israeli lobby Aipac, which is close to Netanyahu, criticized the prime minister's decision not to let Omar and Tlaib into the country on Thursday.
Template for the enemies of the Jewish state
But Netanyahu had no choice. His political survival in the current Israeli election campaign depends on Trump's goodwill. And he has been shooting at the young, female Democratic congressmen for a long time: Recently, he has caused scandals because of racist statements against them. While Israel will vote on September 17th, the US will vote next year. But Trump is already mobilizing his following. And these are mostly whites and evangelicals. Racist remarks against Muslim MPs go down well with them. To brand them as anti-Semites as well - not without reason - is less an attempt to win over the American Jews, who mostly vote for the Democrats, than to win the influence of more than 50 million Evangelicals against the Democrats who are clearly on the side of Israel and Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is not only gambling away the goodwill of a large part of the United States. He plays into the hands of the enemies of Israel and thus also Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. You can use the rejection from Jerusalem for propaganda purposes. Last week, 41 MPs (Republicans and Democrats) visited Israel, now two Muslim MPs are allowed of color do not come. Israel will be scourged as a racist, illiberal state by the anti-Zionist lobby in the US - and many Americans may see it that way for the first time.
But Netanyahu does not challenge any of this. He needs Trump for his political plans, he knows that he would only get into trouble with a Democratic president, so he relies on the only horse he has left. But even if Netanyahu and Trump win their elections, this would still not guarantee a "happy future" for the Israeli prime minister. Trump is known for his volts, basically he doesn't care about Israel or the entire Middle East. What would happen if one day Trump suddenly started a policy against Israel? Then Netanyahu would certainly no longer be able to turn to Congress, as he did in Barack Obama's time. No, Netanyahu has led himself and his country to a dead end. The future will show whether and how a potential successor to Netanyahu will someday be able to mend the relationship between Israel and the USA.
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