Netanyahu’s Loosening Grip

Pandering to Israel has been a long-revered rule of U.S. politics, but Donald Trump’s refusal has shown that Israel’s grip on American policymaking is weakening, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

On March 3, Chemi Shaley, the U.S. correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote an interesting piece on what the Donald Trump phenomenon means for U.S.-Israeli relations. Here are some of his points:

  1. Trump’s insistence on staying “neutral” when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian problem has not cost him any popular support. Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have “sneeringly lambasted” Trump for not supporting Israel, but to no avail. Trump just “laughed all the way to the top of the Republican presidential field.”
  2. Republican evangelicals are paying no mind to Trump’s equivocations about Israel. They vote for Trump despite this. “Evangelical leaders … are heartbroken that so many Believers are flocking after the thrice married, dirty-talking reality star. They are less perturbed by his deviation from the strict pro-Israel party line, however, and more by the sinful ways for which he has not asked forgiveness.”
  3. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy decision to “put all of Israel’s eggs in the GOP basket” – a decision confirmed when he appeared before Congress in 2015 to denounce the Iran nuclear agreement – has turned into a political disaster.

Waning Interest in Israel (U.S. Gentiles)

President Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on May 20, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on May 20, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza)

The rise of Donald Trump certainly suggests that the right-wing Israeli politicians badly misread the Republican political scene. Trump has tapped into a large and growing stratum of citizens who never cared very much about foreign policy, much less Israel-Palestine specifically.

And, now that that indifference has been plainly revealed on the Republican side of the ledger, it may not be long before Democratic voters also start to say, loud enough for their leaders to hear, that Israel isn’t important to them either. As Shaley suggests, what is happening here is the exposure of Israel’s weakness in the United States.

Thus, for the first time it is becoming publicly noticeable that a lot of voters don’t regard Israel as a linchpin ally upholding democracy in the Middle East. In fact, Israel simply is not a priority as far as they are concerned. However, start emphasizing to this largely isolationist-minded crowd the huge amount of their tax money that goes to Israel, and not caring might quickly turn to hostility. Mr. Trump is certainly not above providing the little push necessary for this to happen. How might this scenario play itself out?

If Trump becomes president and, like most of his predecessors, tries to settle the Israel-Palestine problem, he will no doubt be met with not only the usual Israeli stonewalling, but outright hostility. After all, Trump as president will have to deal with Netanyahu as prime minister and they are alike in that both tend to “shoot from the lip.”

As Shaley points out, “Trump refuses to acknowledge United Jerusalem [and] wants to remain neutral so that he can broker a peace deal with the Palestinians, which is a challenge worthy of a master dealmaker like him.”

Netanyahu will loudly express his opposition. Perhaps he will refuse to deal with Trump at all. But Trump, unlike Obama, will not respond to Netanyahu’s insults with discretion. He will readily blame Israel for any failure and do it loudly and disparagingly. Then he might start to publicly question why the U.S. should be wasting vast amounts of treasure on such an unthankful nation as Israel. This could be a public relations disaster from which the Israelis will not be able to recover.

Waning Interest in Israel (U.S. Jews)

As an Israeli born and bred to the perennial fear of anti-Semitism, Shaley senses a danger in Trump not only to Israel but to Jews in general:

“The Jews will run away from Trump because he scares them. Because his demagoguery is ominous, his willingness to slash and burn anyone standing in his way is disturbing, his tendency to incite his supporters against other ethnic groups … is a source of deep anxiety.”

All of this may be true, but so is the important point Shaley makes that “the Jews won’t be fleeing Trump because of his policies toward Israel.” In other words, increasing numbers of U.S. Jews are losing patience in the ever stubborn shenanigans of the Zionist state. And as they do so, Israel loses their support.

The truth is that today’s Zionists have bought a U.S. political elite and not much more. Right now they can rely on a thin veneer of politicos who are in the process of losing influence with an alienated citizenry.

When the politicians make their adjustments to this new environment, one of the casualties may well be the U.S. alliance with Israel. Hillary, Bernie, Ted and Marco may be the last generation of American politicians who will give Benjamin Netanyahu and his ilk the time of day.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

14 comments for “Netanyahu’s Loosening Grip

  1. albert
    March 15, 2016 at 17:44

    Every RINOneocon in the country should be put on trial for treason.
    NeoCon was INVENTED by Irving Kristol and his CABAL of TROTSKYITE COMMUNISTS.
    NeoCon is COMMUNISM wrapped in an American flag.
    NeoCons refuse to WEAR an American uniform ….
    they just wrap themselves in the flag and send YOU and YOURS to be maimed and killed.
    Today’s American NeoCons are yesterday’s Bolsheviks. SAME THING, new LABEL.
    The correct spelling is neoCOMMUNIST.

  2. NobodysaysBOO
    March 15, 2016 at 13:43

    URGENT NEED for 1,000,000 mad as hell protestors at the AIPAC meeting everyone go give them a taste for DEMOCRACY!

    Vote fro some TRUTH in the US government Vote for TRUMP to find EXACTLY who did 911 and watch them HANG on national TV!

  3. Herman
    March 12, 2016 at 13:25

    Support for Zionism is so pervasive that it is hard to be optimistic. Every day there seems to be surprise for the writer. On one TV channel there were appeals to the Christian community to donate to allow people in Russia to come to Israel. I didn’t wait for the Christian pastor to appear telling his followers for only pennies a day, you can allow some poor soul in Russia to rejoin his family in Israel. It is easy to imagine people struggling to pay their bills searching for those pennies a day. Never mind the billions that pass through government channels in the form of grants, tax breaks, and special commercial arrangements.

    Pastors appear and proclaim the glory of the Jewish and its fulfillment of biblical prophesy. One of them gets a jet plane along with a thank you note. Aspiring elected officials make obligatory visits to Israel and swear their allegiance to Israel as part of our vetting process for elected officials Newly elected officials are given all expense trip to Israel and given the opportunity to swear their undying support for Israel.

    Breaking this stranglehold on public opinion can happen but it is hard to be sanguine about such an outcome. The most likely answer lies with the Jews themselves, and whether they, who have a tradition of loving justice which has been corrupted, will right the ship and treat the Palestinians as fellow travelers.

    • John Cook
      March 15, 2016 at 01:04

      The ‘Christian Zionist’ support for Israel is hard to credit – a simple reading of quotes from the their ‘holy’ book, the Talmud, would very quickly reveal the pathological hatred of Christ and Christianity contained in it. It can only be the result of an utter ignorance that is being carefully maintained by Tribe members.

      • J'hon Doe II
        March 15, 2016 at 11:29

        You are exactly correct, John Cook !! —
        But then, ignorance is bliss and or, don’t confuse ‘us’/them more with Facts… .

  4. Peter Loeb
    March 12, 2016 at 06:12


    Professor Davidson’s analysis is very perceptive but perhaps

    The way in which Federal elections now (dys)function in the
    United States should lead to caution about a Donald Trump
    presidency. There may indeed be one but currently
    there is no what of knowing. What might it be? How many neocons
    would be at what positions in it? And so forth.


    Running for a party nomination might be compared to running
    for the most popular of a ninth grade high school class.
    Running for President is like running for Student Council
    President for the entire high school.

    Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton lead in their limited (primary)
    contests. If and when they are “coronated” (become their
    party’s nominees), the question is how many Democratic voters
    vote for Donald Trump or whether GOP Trump holds and adds
    to formerly Democratic voters due to their frustrations and
    anger because despite the so-called “official” economic PR, the
    economic options are fairly miserable for millions of “middle class”
    Americans. The ancient worn-out liberal/progressive
    “solutions” if they ever were valid (they were not as World War
    Two, not the various FDR programs solved the Great Depression)
    may no longer be attractive to millions of Americans who feel
    a Mussolini-type boss would at least “get the trains running
    on time” and and they therefore care less about who is hurt in the

    As far as Palestine is concerned, indeed as far as many expressions
    of militarism in American foreign policy are concerned, there is
    a proverbial lack of interest.

    As one man put it after attending the “town hall” meeting of a
    conservative Member of Congress, “I don’t want to go to any
    more funerals.”

    It is well-known to some that without enormous US subsidies
    in many forms, Israel would be an economic basket case.
    Its blooming desert would turn to fields of dried up sage brush.

    BDS is helping in the economic field.

    If “regime change” would be unsatisfactory for Israel, perhaps
    its withering away might help. But we are not there yet!

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  5. J'hon Doe II
    March 11, 2016 at 16:50

    Israelis Must Draw the Obvious Conclusions About Netanyahu

    The diplomatic failure of the prime minister and his ministers is especially outrageous when compared to the sobriety of the security establishment.

    Haaretz Editorial
    Mar 10, 2016 5:57 AM

    Olivieh Fitoussi

    Analysis As violence continues, tensions between IDF and politicians will grow
    Netanyahu enjoys seeing the IDF chief being raked over the coals
    Top Israeli politicians plotting to put an end to Netanyahu’s lengthy rule

    The reports of the terror attacks came one after the other – Jerusalem, Petah Tikva, Jaffa, again Jerusalem, a roadblock in the territories, more than a dozen wounded, some of them serious. And that was just on Tuesday.

    These attacks do not pose an existential threat to the state. People die in them, but we can live with them without the State of Israel being destroyed. Still, these attacks are intolerable. We cannot reconcile ourselves to this deadly phenomenon. They are the work of human beings, and they can be ended – or at least reduced – by human beings, particularly those currently in government.

    Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister for the first time 20 years ago, when buses were being blown up in Israel’s cities. The Hamas attacks and the passivity shown by the Palestinian leadership headed by Yasser Arafat spurred the Israeli public to try a tougher – albeit not revolutionary – alternative to the Oslo process. Netanyahu tried and failed. His verbal bravado did not stand the test of reality. Netanyahu lost the leadership to Ehud Barak. He returned to government a decade later, but lacked a more effective formula for achieving peace and security for Israelis.

    Since 2009, talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have stalled, while there have been several rounds of violence in Gaza. The only things that have progressed since Netanyahu returned to the premiership in 2009 are the number of settlers, Palestinian hopelessness, and international alienation from Israel and its policies.

    This was the situation before last October, when the latest wave of terror began, but the attacks by individuals remind us daily that the assumption by Netanyahu, the settlers and their supporters that the newer troubles (Iran, Islamic State, Syria and its refugees) will make people forget the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is groundless.

    The small bill is being presented to Israelis every day and all over the country, while the big bill, being written in Washington, the United Nations and other international forums, will be submitted at a time more likely to be determined by Abbas’ despair than Netanyahu’s bluster.

    The diplomatic failure of the prime minister and his ministers is especially outrageous when compared to the sobriety of the security establishment. The latter is not deluded by the promise of a forcible solution, which offers the momentary satisfaction of revenge at the cost of constant escalation. Netanyahu knows that Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and his colleagues are right, but he is afraid of the settlers and politicians like Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman.

    In light of this bloody reality, the Israeli public ought to draw the obvious conclusions about Netanyahu.

    read more:

  6. J'hon Doe II
    March 11, 2016 at 16:33

    IDF Intelligence Chief: More Worried About Israeli Society Than Terror Attacks

    ‘I hope that we are succeeding in educating our soldiers to be more tolerant and better accept the other,’ says Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi.

    Barak Ravid Mar 11, 2016 6:31 AM

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  7. Sue Blase
    March 11, 2016 at 13:39

    As someone very familiar with the Jewish dynamic in America – being raised in that atmosphere myself – I APPLAUD Lawrence Davidson for pointing out these truths. All I can say is this: It’s about TIME that the artificial country known as Israel – the INGRATE from Hades – is finally exposed for what it is – and not only taken to task but dumped by Americans all together. More and more American Jews are becoming dismayed and ashamed over Israel’s ungrateful, hostile (not to mention murderous) acts. Israel bleeds American taxpayers dry for which they receive nothing but grief in return. The times they are a changin’ ….

  8. Evangelista
    March 10, 2016 at 21:21

    A characteristic of United States ‘Americanism’ is, or we may perhaps say was, an odd sort of intolerant-tolerantism. It is today out of favor, with everyone being supposed to adhere to the “correct position”, which position changes both bizarrely and rapidly, leaving a land-fill of detritus behind it, and pushing up a dangerous confusion ahead of it. For illustration, consider the new “corrects” of today, homosexuality and marijuana use, both being pushed forward as ‘now correct’ very hard, while both are pulling baggage-trains of lives damaged by societally incarcerations of once despised, now embraced of both classes. In fact, today, while it is considered severely wrong for any to deprecate potheads and gays, many are still in prisons for practicing those ‘lifestyles’ when our society defined them crimes. Rightly, of course, their crimes being now recognized not crimes, they are today owed releases, if still incarcerated, and compensations for the damages done the lives they could have, ‘should have’ lived. Who knows where the money would be to come from. But, to return to subject, under the old American tradition of intolerant tolerantism, the common manner was to deprecate loudly, and often acridly, as Trump is demonstrating today, but, when the issues were actually come upon, to accept them where they were not aggressive. Then the norm was to rage against the ‘dagos’, ‘wops’, ‘spicks’, ‘micks’, ‘hebes’, ‘krauts’, ‘frogs’, ‘niggers’, etc., but when in the same pot with them to learn to adjust to tolerate the situation, put up with, and then find friends, ones of the ‘others’ who were ‘OK for a ___.’ And then, of course, ending up defending them, or at least ‘our ones’.

    Listening to trump when he is raging and deprecating, and then also when he is recognizing an issue, I get an impression of the old intolerant-tolerant dichotomy (notice that both words contain ‘rant’). For an example, pinned down on Muslims, Trump defined the problem that “They hate us.”, and went from that to “We have to do something about that.” It is for that that Trump’s ‘intolerance’ appears, to me at least, to differ from that of, for example, that of the ‘politically-correct’ who pushed the ex-CEO of the Mozilla Project out for his having made a contribution to the California anti-gay-marriage campaign.

    I can’t see Trump being any worse, and doing any worse, than any of the other candidates, gaining the office, for which I see no downside to his campaigning, and lots of potential for upside. Hell, just the turmoil he is causing now is upside, and the humor of a candidate for the ‘most costly to run for office in the land’ campaigning essentially for free, riding the tsunami of outrage, with all of his enemies putting his name in lights, is, to me, wonderfully funny, leading me to wonder if, when he has the nomination, he might begin to, or be able to, begin charging for his appearances and doing endorsements. Can you imagine a presidential candidate attaining the office with a surplus instead of a deficit? Or even walking away a multi-billionaire even if he loses in the election.

  9. Steve Naidamast
    March 10, 2016 at 15:35

    I believe one of the issues that has American Jews concerned in general is the fear of growing antisemitism both against the Jewish religion and Israel as a consequence of their policies. This is already occurring in parts of Europe, though many Jews living in Europe have no control over the policies of the Israeli nation, though their elites have influence.

    Given this it may behoove the writers who publish on such sites as Consortium News to begin providing writings that peel back the foundations of these fears that are part of the US Jewish electorate as well as the European Jewish Community.

    For example, Gilad Atzmon, world renowned Jazz musician as well as political philosopher, has written and lectured extensively on the concept of pre-PTSD within the Jewish Community in general. Such a concept is explained by the manner in which Jewish elites constantly inculcate fear into the Jewish Community by consistently repeating many falsehoods about past experiences as well those concerning current events. This reinforcement leads to a level of paranoia that is based upon the future potential of another major attack on the community (ie: WWII) that sociological studies have demonstrated is not deserved since it has been found that the majority of antisemitism in the world today is rather benign, meaning that those who practice it have little influence over societal sociology.

    The Jewish Community has lived with such fears for many years so that Jewish elites can maintain control over this group. Even Israeli sociologists and analysts have recognized this pattern of deceit in the way that Israeli government officials and their minions constantly reinforce the idea that another “Holocaust” could happen or is about to.

    Much of this has been fomented due to the ability of elites to control media sources. Yet, for years with Internet technologies there are many more accessible areas of research for the average person than ever before to allow him or her to undo the mythologies that have been perpetrated on them both inside and outside the Jewish Community. However, this is not happening at a pace that would normally be expected with the technologies available as a result of the negative affects of the Internet, technological offshoot of smart-devices, which are being used in such a manner as to be labeled “depraved” in the United States in that so many people are so willing to expose their personal lives on such devices or use them in place of critical thinking processes.

    Thus, it is the many columnists who can write such pieces to make inroads in this area of study and research that has so affected the Jewish Community without any of these falsehoods being questioned.

    Simply writing about the lessening of support in the United States among the general populace as well as younger American Jews for Israel is not enough to weaken the damaging effects that this support has inflicted on the US in the past without understanding the “why” and “how” such support was originally made possible…

    • dahoit
      March 11, 2016 at 13:50

      Evidence of growing antisemitism?Sheesh,calling out Israel for being criminal hypocrites has nothing to do with antisemitism,its just pointing out obvious reality.Unfortunately it is not only Jewish elites who are inflicted with this propaganda,but the rank and file,or else we would see a groundswell of anger by Jews at the actions of Israel,and American support for such.Outside of a few web sites,and a handful of protesters it is invisible and silent.
      I saw somewhere?today a story about a hate tome.They were critiquing someone,and all i could think of was the OT,a veritable treasure house of ethnic hatred and superiority.And the Israelis live it.Unbelievable .

    • Ryberg
      March 15, 2016 at 13:28

      Donald Trump is featured as one of 3 main HEADLINERS at this years’ AIPAC conference- alongside Hillary and VP Biden. A look at the following vids- and the most cursory glance at his hideously racist statements against Muslims (which any Zionist fully embraces) not to mention his promise to rescind the hard-won Iran Nuke Treaty, indicates this is just another Oligarch of the same stripe.
      Both kids married jews, daughter converted to Judaism (which was condemned by some Rabbis along w/ her intermarriage into the faith). Son marrying jewish wife not questioned. Because Judaism is conveyed matrilineally?

      Buyer beware

    • Zionist Subversion of America.
      March 15, 2016 at 14:34

      Every time you use the word “elite” what is that a euphemism for? Could the term you use, ‘elite’ be a euphemism for Jews? When people see these “elite” controlling media and governments, and putting the interests of their tribe over the national interests of the country they were born in, the country that has allowed them to prosper and live comfortably, then there will undoubtedly be a backlash by the majority that sees a tiny minority exploiting the system for the their own gain at the expense of the many. One example is the suicidal policy of fighting wars in the Middle East for International Zionism headquartered in Israel.

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