Tag Archives: Palestine

Trump defies description of low-down policies

There is almost no way any longer to measure the depths of how low Donald Trump can take his assorted presidential pronouncements.

The president’s recent tirade against two members of Congress — both of them outspoken Democrats who happen to be Muslim — simply lowers the bar to a level I cannot define.

Trump urged Israeli government officials to deny entry into Israel of Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. They are members of Congress, duly elected to represent their districts. They intended to go Israel on “factfinding” missions. Trump said they “hate” Israel and “hate all Jews,” which of course might qualify as the mother of ad hominem attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to his utter disgrace, approved blocking their entry into Israel. The Israelis then relented on Tlaib, allowing her into the West Bank to visit her grandmother; Tlaib, though, canceled her visit because of the pall this disgraceful conduct has cast on her visit.

For the president of the United States to interfere with two federal lawmakers doing their jobs is reprehensible in the extreme. Moreover, for a foreign head of government to kowtow to this presidential idiocy is a sign of amazing weakness from a man, and a government, that purport to stand for strength in the face of hostility.

I have had a bit of exposure to Israel. I toured the country for a month in 2009 and was told time and again the same thing about that marvelous place: It is a secular state governed by the laws of humanity; and it welcomes all points of view, all forms of peaceful dissent.

Netanyahu tossed all of that aside by adhering initially to the president’s ridiculous admonition. They both should be ashamed of themselves.

I cannot speak for Netanyahu, but I am pretty sure the shameless U.S. president will feel not one bit of regret over seeking to bar two American citizens their right to travel abroad on behalf of their congressional constituents.

Speak carefully … always

Secretary of State John Kerry is the latest victim of the urge to record everything everyone says every time they say it.

That does not for a moment excuse what he said the other day in what was supposed to be a closed-door meeting, which is that Israel may be turning into an “apartheid state” if it doesn’t hammer out a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.


The term “apartheid” is poison in polite international policy company. South Africa implemented that disgraceful policy for many decades in which it denied the black majority living there the rights of citizenship. Whites and blacks couldn’t interact with each other. The policy ended with the release from prison in the early 1990s of the late Nelson Mandela. The rest is history.

Kerry’s use of the term at the very least was careless. It well may have damaged U.S.-Israel relations beyond repair.

Why wasn’t he smarter than to make his point another way? Didn’t he learn from recent history, such as the time Mitt Romney was caught on an audio recording at a fundraising dinner making his infamous “47 percent” remarks about how nearly half of Americans are going to vote Democratic because they depend on government subsidies and handouts? Didn’t he learn from the video recording of Congressman Vance McAllister making out with his staffer? There are countless other instances of people in high places being caught saying and doing things they regret because someone had a recording device hidden somewhere.

A Daily Beast reporter recorded Kerry’s statements the other day, getting past detection and apparently not heeding ground rules stipulating the meeting wasn’t open to the public.

In this world of instant communication where everyone has a set of electronic eyes and ears, the only response simply is: Too bad.

Ariel Sharon, the warrior’s warrior

Ariel Sharon was fearless in his belief in Israel.

He fought valiantly for its creation and fought against its enemies when they attacked it. Sharon, who died this week after lying in a coma for years, made no apologies for anything he ever said or did on behalf of his country.

As New York Times essayist Ronen Bergman notes, Sharon could have been the one to make peace with the Palestinians. Somehow he fell short of that noble goal.

I’m kind of reminded of the axiom of how “only Nixon could go to China,” referring to the notable cold warrior President Richard Nixon opening the diplomatic door to the People’s Republic of China, governed by the hated communists. President Nixon made the correct overture in the early 1970s and it changed the geopolitical landscape forever.

Sharon, who served as Israel’s prime minister, also had that kind of credibility is it related to the Palestinians, with whom he fought on the battlefield. He could have been the one to broker a deal with the hated neighbors who have been committed to the destruction of Israel.

As it turned out, it fell to another battle-hardened warrior, Israelis Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to reach a peace accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization and its leader Yasser Arafat. The two men shook hands at the White House in a ceremony moderated by President Bill Clinton.

Two years later, Rabin would die at the hand of a rabid Israeli nationalist assassin who hated him for the deal he reached with Arafat.

Would such a fate have befallen Ariel Sharon? He could have shown additional courage by striking a peace deal. Sadly, he didn’t take fullest advantage of his own Nixon moment.