When I woke up this morning I was planning to write about Trump’s speech at AIPAC last night, it was the last thing I heard as I was going to sleep. By the time I got back home this morning the news alert came across my phone of a bombing in Brussels. Israeli news went live to Brussels and that became my morning. The news was bad and only got worse as the time went on . The world seems to be faced with a problem that there is no real solution. What do you do when a part (even if it’s a small part) of a major religion has declared war on the civilized world? It is a war that has been going on for twenty years, has gotten worse over time and no one has a real solution to it. I certainly do not claim to have a clue at this point.
Which brings me to the AIPAC conference. This afternoon Israel time Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the convention. Since it was in the midst of the non-stop news from Belgium it was carried live on Israeli TV. In fact, it was shown on split screen with Netanyahu filling a third of the screen and the pictures of the destruction at the airport taking up the rest. Netanyahu’s speech was not all that different from speeches that he has given in the past. This speech began with condolences to the victims of today’s attacks. He, of course presented the standard line that the terror attacks in Europe are merely a continuation of the terror attacks against Israel. Terror with no real goals. Usually, I just dismiss that view, and part of it is clearly ridiculous. Regardless of one’s political views, it must be admitted that the Palestinians have a grievance. Does it justify terrorism of course not, but one should not say they have no grievance. On the other hand, I have recently begun to believe there is a greater link between the act of the ISIS and our dispute with the Palestinian then we have understood to date. That tentative link I believe is the difficulty that Islam has in making compromises. After all, we would never have had 70 years of war if the Arab/Muslims of Palestine had been willing to compromise in 1947. Or if they had been willing to accept their defeat in 1949 and just resettle in new places. I believe we have underplayed the religious element of the conflict. Its been easy in the last few years to say that the window of compromise was closing as the conflict has become more religious and less a secular nationalist conflict. However what if it was always a religious conflict and we just did not recognize it.
Now finally to Trump, I had no doubt that AIPAC had to invite him. He is after all the most likely Republican candidate for President. I also opposed the walkout for the same reason. On the other hand the enthusiasm that he was received with was stunning and depressing. How a Jewish group could receive a demagogue with such enthusiasm is beyond my understanding. Even more importantly how can anyone believe that Trump is the best candidate for Israel. I say that on two levels. First, his contradictory statements. Who knows what he actually believes. But more importantly, his stated policies for US foreign relations will, without doubt, weaken the United States in the world. The strength of Israel is indirectly tied to the strength of the United States. A Trump presidency would clearly weaken America in the world.
One final comment on the speech that Bernie Sanders did not give but published, It showed a sophisticated understanding of Israel and the Middle East, but he loses me when he attacks the disproportional Israeli response to the missile fire from Gaza. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the average Israeli. I am sorry so many people died in Gaza, but all that had to happen to stop the killing was for Hamas to stop firing rockets at us. I am not sorry that the missiles that were meant to kill me were intercepted by our anti-missile systems and thus, our response was “disproportional” . I want all our encounters with our enemies to result in disproportional results. That will end when they fully accept our existence here, there unwillingness to compromise may in fact be indicative of their religious inhibitions to compromise