Trump’s Heresy on Israel

The appeal of Donald Trump’s bigoted comments has exposed an unpleasant truth about the Republican Party, which has been flirting with racism since Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, but his refusal to toe the line on Israel also highlights the groveling by other candidates, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

With less than two months until the Iowa caucus opens the 2016 primary season, Donald Trump’s poll-leading candidacy continues to cause increasing anxiety among Republican Party leaders worried about how he can be stopped from actually getting the nomination.

Trump poses two overall problems for the party. One is how freely he insults, denigrates, and offends a variety of groups, to the extent that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank flat-out calls him a bigot and a racist and criticizes other Republican candidates for being hesitant to call out Trump in the same way. The political problem for the party, of course, is that Trump’s ignoble attitudes in this respect will become associated with the party as a whole.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

A second problem is in one sense a reverse of the first. It involves what Trump, in his unrestrained, not-according-to-script style, says that is distinctly different from what the other candidates are saying and what those differences imply about the other candidates. We saw an instance this week at a candidate forum held by the Republican Jewish Coalition, an important event in the “Sheldon primary,” in which most candidates are seeking the blessing and financial support of Mr. Adelson and other wealthy donors with inclinations similar to his.

Both of the leading outsider candidates made some headlines regarding foreign policy. In the case of Ben Carson it was the continued demonstration of his weak grasp of foreign affairs generally, with the main takeaway from his speech being his repeated mispronunciation of Hamas as “hummus.” In the case of Trump it was a couple of things he said, or didn’t say, about the important foreign policy issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One was Trump’s refusal to say that Jerusalem should be recognized as the undivided capital of Israel. Trump approached the subject partly in his usual didactic way about deal-making, saying “you can’t go in [to a negotiation] with that attitude.”

He’s right about the negotiating reality as it concerns any hope for a two-state solution, and thus any hope for Israel to live in peace, and he is on sound ground regarding why as a matter of U.S. policy and international consensus it has long been recognized as a mistake to prejudge, let alone prejudge in an entirely one-sided way, the final status of a city to which both parties to the conflict have strong historical, religious, and cultural ties. But what Trump said on this subject went over like a lead balloon in the particular room in which he was speaking.

Similarly ill-received by this audience was his noting that Israel is not necessarily committed to making peace. Trump was even more gentle and “even-handed” about this subject than he could have been, with his exact words being “I don’t know that Israel has the commitment to make it [a peace agreement], and I don’t know the other side has the commitment to make it”, as if those under a military occupation should be expected to be no more anxious to end the occupation than the occupier is.

The background fact is, of course, that the current right-wing Israeli government has repeatedly indicated its preference for holding on to the territories rather that making a peace agreement that would involve yielding some of that land and making possible a Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even though he is less direct about this than some other members of his government, recently reaffirmed this preference and said Israel should “control all of the territory” and “forever live by the sword.” But for Trump to note this truth and to stray from the Israeli government’s narrative that it wants peace but doesn’t have a willing partner was anathema in the room in which he was speaking.

Trump was still in lead balloon territory with another of his comments at the same event: “I know why you’re not going to support me, because I don’t want your money. You want to control your own politician.” Ouch.

This remark was part of Trump’s “I’m too rich to be bought” shtick, but then the other candidates proceeded to demonstrate how apt the remark was. A visitor who wandered into the room who did not otherwise know which country’s election campaign was in progress would have surmised that the candidates were running for president of Israel rather than president of the United States.

Marco Rubio, for example, was at least as disciplined as any of the others in toeing the accepted line. His speech featured a condemnation of the European Union’s requirement for accurate labeling of goods coming from “what the EU considers ‘Israeli-occupied territories’.” Rubio declared that the regulations in question were “discriminatory laws that apply only to Jews” and that “we need a president who is not afraid to call this out for what it is: anti-Semitism.”

So it is anti-Semitic not only to say or do anything opposed to Israeli colonization of the occupied territories, but even to let consumers know what’s coming from those territories?

No one knows when, between now and the general election next November, Trump’s presidential candidacy finally will implode. But in the meantime he is drawing attention to some unappealing aspects not only of his own campaign but also those of his competition.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

19 comments for “Trump’s Heresy on Israel

  1. Greg Driscoll
    December 9, 2015 at 21:33

    SUGGESTIONS for Assorted Political Bumper Stickers:

    for Donald Trump: Narcissus for President, 2016!

    for Jeb Bush: I’m no Shrub – I’m a sprout. Vote Bush in 2016!

    for Chris Christie: Arrogance is the New Chic – Vote Christie in ’16!

    for Carly Fiorina:
    Help Me Land My Golden Parachute – Carly is Gnarly in ’16!

    for Hillary Clinton:
    I’m A Poor Little Rich Girl. Please Vote Hillary in 2016!

    for Bernie Sanders:
    Socialist in Name Only – Zionist to the Core… Vote Bernie in ’16!

  2. Elias Silar
    December 9, 2015 at 20:05

    While you were jeering at Trump I hope you realized his speech was also filled to the brim with anti-Semitic steroytpes. But come to think of it, you liker that didn’t you? Everyone else in the comments section sure does as does their apparent willingness to shout about ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government)

  3. Elias Silar
    December 9, 2015 at 20:03

    While you were jeering at Trump I hope you realized his speech was also filled to the brim with anti-Semitic steroytpes. But come to think of it, you liker that didn’t you? Everyone else in the comments section and their ardent belief in ZOG sure do.

  4. December 8, 2015 at 11:22

    Trump will be dumped (or forced out) by the Republican Party (as he predicted) and will lose as an independant.
    However, his discourse has been valuable in the sense that American voters are waking up and will stand up for themselves now, more than they have in decades.
    Hilary is married to a drug-smuggling paedophile. She’s not much better.
    Socialist Sanders is the only reasonable choice left.
    Either way, none of them would have any real power left as globalization and unelected officials are the way of the future.
    What a system!

  5. Peter Loeb
    December 7, 2015 at 06:55


    The “2-state” solution is a meaningless fabrication. It is like
    the dream that two urban gangs can coexist peacefully
    providing that one is armed to the teeth and fully backed
    by the USA and the other is totally helpless. The Israelis
    claim that they cannot negotiate with “terrorists” meaning
    Hamas. In fact, Zionism and Israel are the terrorists and
    a close examination of a hundred years of Zionist history
    proves this. As revisionist Vladimir Jabotinsky pointed out
    in his essay THE IRON WALL…”, Zionists never wanted
    their own “state”, their own “home for the Jews”. Zionists
    throughout history have wanted a colony which only
    Jews control in every respect.

    It is easy to poke holes in the “one-state” solution. There
    are plenty of them to go around. ( For one, I have
    always believed that advocates for Palestinians however
    defined, do not completely comprehend the inevitable
    frictions in all states.)

    It remains that the “two-party state” whatever it ever
    was, is no no more than a meaningless slogan in
    one side’s PR.

    There can never be justice until Zionism in all its forms
    has been completely dismantled. I share this view
    with Catholic theologian Michael Prior in THE BIBLE

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  6. bike-anarkist
    December 7, 2015 at 02:48

    If Trump refuses to waver from contrary position on Israel, i wouldn’t be surprised if an “accident” happens that makes him unable to pursue the presidency.

    • LondonBob
      December 7, 2015 at 15:24

      Trump has Roger Stone advising him, Stone wrote a good book on the JFK assassination. I have no doubt he takes this seriously as threat.

  7. Steve
    December 7, 2015 at 00:14

    Based on your article I will definitely vote for Trump. Anyone who believes in backing Israel but also in pushing them to a two-state solution with joint control of Jerusalem is a realist and and honest politician (sorry about the oxymoron). It’s the only answer and it will ultimately happen, the sooner the better for everyone.

  8. LJ
    December 6, 2015 at 18:26

    Trump isn’t a Neoconservative like all the others (except Sanders) either and his position on immigration I suspect not only reflects the majority of Republicans but the majority of Independents also. What he said to the Adelson love fest was true also. Meanwhile Hillary , she off the No Fly Zone in Syria, today was not only saber rattling against Iran but declared that she would support even closer military relations with Israel and would basically invite the Israeli Prime Minister into the White House for a War Drum beating session as soon as she is elected. If Trump would come out with a reasonable position on Global Warning and suggest that he would appoint moderate Justices to the Supreme Court who would not engage in Judicial Activism I am CERTAIN that, warts and all, he will be our next President no matter what the Media, FOX News, Rupert Murdoch or Sheldon Adelson want This is what we desrve. If it comes down to this blowhard VS Hillary I am voting for Trump. I am 57 years old and have only voted for 2 Republicans in 39 years of voting. It is my belief that Hillary is the unstable one , the war hawk who is out of step with the American Public and is the one most likely to start a Nuclear War. She is scary. Trump is better than her but I would vote for Sanders if he ran against Trump.

    • Lusion
      December 6, 2015 at 21:02

      I would love to watch the two of them really engage with each other on a suitable platform, moderated by – Robert Parry?

  9. Drew Hunkins
    December 6, 2015 at 16:51

    The Zionist power configuration wields a lot of clout.

    I tend to believe that within a few days Trump will be stumbling all over himself issuing half apologies to the pro-Israel zealots.

  10. Joe Tedesky
    December 6, 2015 at 16:36

    I am providing a link to the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum. This c span link has the forums speaking candidates separate links on the same page. I will not post my opinion, so you may decide for yourselves, what you may take away from each of their speechs.

  11. rosemerry
    December 6, 2015 at 15:17

    Probably just about everything Ben Carson says is wrong, but according to “Angry Arab” in his blog, he is NOT really wrong but close to the Arabic,rather than “his repeated mispronunciation of Hamas as “hummus.””.

    With most Repugs and lots of others saying “eye-rack” and “eye-ran” for Iraq and Iran, the pot is calling the kettle black here.

  12. alexander
    December 6, 2015 at 14:43

    Mr Trump is wealthy enough to say what he wants to say.

    One might object to his point of view in many instances..but his candor is refreshing.

    The pervasive groveling for big money sponsors by his rivals seems to diminish their integrity while boosting his own…

    i imagine someone with a strong independent streak and relative financial autonomy would strike terror in the heart of many in the back room for whom the president is a bought and paid for. proxy..

    For those who feel that kind of heat is overdue…maybe Trump is their candidate after all.

  13. Bill Bodden
    December 6, 2015 at 14:37

    Despite Trump’s very serious negatives a case could be made when compared to Hillary he is the lesser evil.

    • Mark Thomason
      December 6, 2015 at 15:51

      That is a measure of Hillary, not Trump. And I agree with you.

  14. Mortimer
    December 6, 2015 at 14:24

    Zionist Power: Swindlers and Impunity, Traitors and Pardons
    By James Petras
    Axis of Logic
    Tuesday, Dec 1, 2015

    Over two decades ago, Harvard political science professor, Samuel Huntington, argued that global politics would be defined by a ‘clash of civilizations’.
    His theories have found some of the most aggressive advocates among militant Zionists, inside Israel and abroad.

  15. Chet Roman
    December 6, 2015 at 13:40

    “The political problem for the party, of course, is that Trump’s ignoble attitudes in this respect will become associated with the party as a whole”

    I don’t know anyone that is not a Republican who believes the party is not racist or bigoted. The Republicans have nothing to fear about their “reputation” being tarnished by Trump.

    Trump is an opportunist and if, in the unlikely chance that he becomes the president, he will bend to the demands of the Deep State as Obama did. Trump’s daughter is a converted Jew who married into a wealthy real estate family and Trump has praised Israel in the past. The tentacles of the zionist infestation into the senior positions of power in the government will continue to exert their control on behalf of their masters in Tel Aviv. Trump understands power relationships and will comply: Resistance is futile.

  16. Vesuvius
    December 6, 2015 at 13:02

    This article confirms that the U.S., though the World’s only superpower, since a number of years no longer is an independent state, but instead has become a colony, A servile colony of a foreign country, the Zionist state of Israel. The American political process leading to the Presidential Election subject to foreign influence, nay even steering!

Comments are closed.