“As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.” — Julius Caesar
The list of worries never shortens, and an updated version of it will probably include some of the following items: Does Vice President Mike Pence help us or hurt us by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Is the two-state solution mediated by the U.S. dead? Are we on the way to a one-state solution?
This evangelical politician — does he want us all to become devout Christians? Is he looking to ignite Armageddon? And what about the rift with Americans Jews — will it not grow even wider as Israel embraces Pence, whom they, the Jews, dislike?
And what happens to Israel if the Democrats take over the House and the Senate next year? Will they take revenge because of Israel’s approval of President Donald Trump (see graphic at right)? And when the embassy moves, will there be violence? And when the deal with Iran is canceled, will Iran rush to get the bomb?
Israel appreciates the Trump administration because it reshuffled the cards of worry.
There is so much to worry about that we can barely enjoy a moment. A vice president of the United States visited Israel this week. He praised Israel for its achievements. He vowed to move the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital. And he made another promise: “Today, I have a solemn promise to Israel, to all the Middle East and to the world: The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Beyond the nuclear deal, we will also no longer tolerate Iran’s support of terrorism, or its brutal attempts to suppress its own people.”
Oh, you’d say, these are just words, and we heard them before. We heard them from President Barack Obama. Yes, we did. But now we hear these words from a president who already disappointed all cynics and wiseacres by deciding to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Now we hear them from an administration whose main focus in this region is not to criticize Israel but rather to cooperate with it.
Still, we worry. Do they have a plan of what to do the day after they cancel the nuclear agreement? It is a valid worry. Because it doesn’t seem as if they have a plan. Still, we worry. Do they have a plan for advancing a peace deal when the Palestinians will not even talk to them? Also, a valid worry. If they ever had a plan, it is probably no longer practicable. Still, we worry. Is it healthy for Israel in the long run to become the one country in the world that warmly embraces the Trump administration? Again, a valid worry. Trump will not be in the White House forever. And the American public — a majority of which is critical of him — might develop a growing suspicion toward this Trump-adoring little enclave.
We worry for good reasons. And as we do, we neglect to appreciate the fact that things are going in Israel’s direction.
Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The deed is done, the fact was established. The world grumbles, but with the backing of America, it will get used to this new reality. In Washington, the administration no longer goes behind Israel’s back. Yes, Trump will not be there forever, but another three (or seven) years of cooperative relations is a long time. The Palestinians must face a new paradigm. Their current leader, Mahmoud Abbas, once complained that Obama convinced him to “go up a tree” but then “he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump.” With Trump there is no tree and no ladder. There also is no validity to the old Palestinian conviction that time is on their side.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) — an agency whose main achievement is to prolong Palestinian suffering and false hope — was put on notice. Iran — a country whose bad behavior was ignored by the Obama administration, as not to ruin the prospects for “historic agreement” — was also put on notice.
Do you worry about where it all leads? I worry, too. But I still draw some satisfaction from the fact that the Iranians must worry, too, and the Palestinians must worry, and so must the UNRWA hacks and the blame-Israel hacks.
Here is one way to explain why Israel appreciates the Trump administration: It reshuffled the cards of worry.