Netanyahu and Adelson Set Trump’s Agenda In Middle East

Michael Wolff’s bombshell new book on the Trump White House documents that  Benjamin Netanyahu pushed one of the Trump administration’s most grievous foreign policy moves, the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the supposed capital of the Jewish people. Benjamin Netanyahu influenced that decision, and so did Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. And they are also pushing Trump to end U.S. policy of opposing the Israeli occupation.

Let’s be clear that this is a major change in U.S. policy they were talking about. This week brings new reports that the U.S. is not going to call the occupation an occupation– well, here are the fingerprints. Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly interfered in U.S. matters of state, without an outcry. Sheldon Adelson– who is very close to Netanyahu and a major player in Israeli politics– has been personally pushing the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty since Camp David threatened to divide Jerusalem, in 2000, and using his wealth to do so.

The vision of the Middle East here is the neoconservative one supported by Israeli rightwingers: Let Jordan absorb Palestinian population areas in the West Bank, or encourage Palestinians to leave Palestine; let Palestinians vote in Jordan.

Adelson’s influence reflects the fact that according to the Wolff book, he was willing to put more money on the possibility of a Trump presidency than Trump himself. Trump, a shrewd businessman, did not believe that he was going to win, and was reluctant to loan the campaign even $10 million, Wolff says. But Adelson is a fervent ideologue, far wealthier than Trump; and he and his wife spent upwards of $25 million on the Trump campaign and inauguration. So no wonder the embassy decision was announced…

No one gives Adelson credit for this influence because such reports would feed the idea that a rightwing militaristic Israel lobby is influencing U.S. policy in the Middle East, a supposed anti-Semitic canard. But that just happens to be true.

By the way, the Wolff book also speaks of cultural tensions in the White House involving Jews. Henry Kissinger saw a “war” between Jews and non-Jews in the White House. As the Forward notes:

Another big theme of the book is the bad blood between Bannon and the president’s family members, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

“It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews,” said former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about the White House.

But if that’s the case, we must ask, Who won? The answer is that Bannon is out, and whatever else he stood for, Bannon represented the antiwar strain in U.S. nationalist thinking. Note Bannon’s angry reference to neoconservative influence, also reported by Wolff. Bannon tells Ailes that it’s hard to find Republican advisers who are not pro-war:

“When you take out all the Never Trump guys who signed all those letters and all the neocons who got us in all these wars … it’s not a deep bench.”

This is the great divide in U.S. foreign policy. Not over Russia; but over the extent of Israel’s influence. Realists are opposed to the Israel lobby. And realists are excommunicated by both the Republicans and the Democrats.

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