By Josh Skinner
In a shocking turn of events, on January 20th, 2017, twitter-fingers will turn to trigger fingers. This will form into policies on behalf of the Donald and his cabinet, a cabinet that makes progressives long for the days when they were outraged over “binders full of women”. As politics is wont to do, the topic of Israel has arisen, and people are having distinct difficulty finding consensus on the issue.
The Obama administration has given its two weeks notice and is letting the office know exactly how it feels: fuck the Israeli settlements. In a radical move that will bare next to no real consequences, the United Nations Security Council has passed a motion to let Israel know that it does not approve of their settlements in the West Bank. This controversially inconsequential move can only be made by someone who is just about to walk out the door, a move that has been criticized by Donald Trump.
For those who find the settlements at the very least distasteful, the settlements represent a transgression of international law, and are symbolic of the leniency afforded to Israel as a result of its relationship with the United States. For those who find the settlements at the very least necessary, they are seen as a method of ensuring security and survival for the only home that Jewish people have in the world.
In a barn-burner of a tweet, Donald Trump stated that Israel needs to “hold strong” until the 20th of January, the day that he takes over office. In an increasingly hopeless campaign to tame the twitter-fingers of the President-elect, the Obama administration asked that Trump use “more conventional means” of communication on international relations.
For those anxious about the effect of Trump’s ascendance into the White House on America’s relationship to Israel, consider that this stance was inevitable. Hillary Rodham Clinton is not a revolutionary Bern-Dawg, neither is she a pragmatist like the outgoing B-Obeezy. She is at her core, a candidate of stability that believed in the primacy of America and it’s necessary role in promoting democracy and its values abroad.
This American Triumphalism, a central plank in her campaign, is why she supported a no-fly zone in Syria, it’s why she campaigned to intervene in Libya, and voted to remove Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It’s also why after Bernie Sanders released his foreign policy package in the democratic primary, she pledged allegiance to Israel in front of the largest Jewish lobby group in New York.
In this speech she criticized the Iran deal, and how Obama treated Israel. She advocated for a strong partnership between Israel and America, describing it as”non-negotiable”. Under her presidency, the battle to delegitimize Israel on the world stage would face steadfast opposition from America. Furthermore, she was wildly critical of Palestinian leadership and condemned them for celebrating terrorism and blocking peace.
These are all good indicators that she would be a staunch supporter of Israel or at the very least challenge the narrative that her role in the Obama administration precludes her from being pro-Israel. Most of the criticism that she has received from members of the pro-Israel lobby have been regarding her negative disposition towards settlements; she sees them as “illegitimate”. However, despite opposing settlements, she detested outside intervention, stating that she would “vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including the United Nations Security Council”.
Of course this is exactly what Donald Trump did. Hillary Clinton, if she had stuck to her campaign promises, would have done exactly the same, albeit through “more conventional means”.
Whether this was what she truly believed and intended to do is always a rabbit hole with Hillary Clinton. The result of this stance on Israel was that she separated herself from Bernie Sanders who was outright in his opposition to settlements in the West Bank, and stated that he would not allow Israel to violate international law. This focus on international law indicates that international institutions would be his mode of recourse for Israeli settlements.
Clinton did not share that sentiment in her speech. She believed at the time that a healthy and safe Israel should be of chief concern to American foreign policy in the Middle East, and so does Donald Trump. For supporters of Israel, this should come as breath of sanity to a chaotic world, knowing that regardless of the outcome of the election, the homeland for Jewish people would return to being a chief concern for the US. For Israel’s critics, it is a sad regression in easing the pain for all those living in Israel, a regression that they will continue to fight against as they always have.
If you don’t have a vested in interest Israel, it is confusing. Israel is a uniquely confusing state that simultaneously allows members of the LGBT community to flourish while restricting cement shipments intended to rebuild hospitals and homes in Gaza. In this moment, those who are dismayed at Donald Trump have to understand that nothing about offering unflinching support for Israel is a regression in the broader scheme of American politics, and that this is very much a return to the norm.
For those who supported Donald Trump because they believed he would shake up the system, this is an act of orthodoxy in lockstep with the Republican establishment. In this latest Donald Trump scandal the world gets to see that America is not as divided as previously thought. Over 200 million people, both Democrats and Republicans in America voted for unconditional support of Israel.