A Stain on Jewish Values: Israel’s Misguided Obeisance to Donald Trump
Prof. Louis René Beres
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary….
Rabbi Hillel, Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a
Introduction: Trump and Talmud
Israel’s largely enthusiastic support for Donald J. Trump represented a distressing irony of post-Holocaust Jewish history. Lest we forget, this former president was an American leader who made openly common cause with multiple hate groups; reversed a once-proud US national tradition of welcoming the refugee;replaced elementary human compassion with indifferent family separations and “beautiful” barbed wire;turned an unforgivably blind eye to genocide-like crimes in Syria and made the United States glaringly complicit with Vladimir Putin’s crimes against humanity.
Since 1945, an aptly proud Jewish mantra has been “Never Again.” From an authoritative Talmudic standpoint, this unambiguous stance must be applied to all peoples, and not just the Jewish People. Prima facie, to do otherwise would mean to disregard Judaism’s immutably core commitment to higher law,species universality and human oneness. As we may also learn from Talmud, “The dust from which the first man was made was gathered in all four corners of the earth.”
There is still more for Israelis to consider. During his continuously sordid presidency, Donald Trump actively celebrated the rancor of an “everyone for himself” national and international philosophy; that is, a conspicuously murderous posture intrinsically alien to everything Jewish. In Judaism, after all, whatever the particular sources, dignified human relations must always be founded upon cooperation and collaboration, not gratuitous belligerence or zero-sum conflict.
But how did this defiling Israeli association with mendacious American leadership actually come to pass? Was it “merely” the result of a misguided Realpolitik or power politics orientation in Israel? To be sure, from the start of his anti-scientific and anti-intellectual administration, Donald Trump openly presented himself as a “friend of Israel.”
But why the reciprocal? Why would a nation founded upon human dignity and moral principle declare itself a witting friend of Trump? Because he sent his Jewish son-in-law to move America’s embassy tile from a building in Tel Aviv to another building in Jerusalem?
Oddly, because Israel is generally a country of smart and well-educated people, this degrading reciprocity was widely accepted among otherwise thoughtful public citizens. Now, however, going forward in moral, legal and pragmatic survival terms, there will be a continuously high price to pay for such shortsighted acceptance, for the Jewish State’s demeaning and corrosive complicity with Donald Trump’s inexcusable cruelty.
Origins of the Defilement
None of this was ever complicated. Looking back, the Trump administration actively sought to replicate some of the worst features of authoritarian governance. While such a normally grievous charge might once have seemed unreasonable or perhaps even outrageous, this could no longer be the case after January 6, 2021. On that lamentable day of fevered insurrection, this bitterly injurious president, with his unashamedly open support of white supremacyand by his repeated subordinations of binding law to personal whim, focused more on dominating his nation’s “streets” than on maintaining even the thinnest veneers of national justice.
When, in the closing days of his still-aspiring dictatorship, Trump spawned violent uprising against his own government, a rebellion at the US Capitol replete with tee-shirts commending “Camp Auschwitz,” he exhibited the most egregiously fundamental tenet of Joseph Goebbels. This was the supremely ironic message that once a lie becomes sufficiently monstrous and preposterous, it can, if “properly” fashioned, become more credible.“Intellect rots the mind,” declared Nazi Minister of Propaganda Goebbels at a Nuremberg rally in 1934.”I love the poorly educated,” said then candidate Donald Trump to an American rally audience in 2016.
Nonetheless, in law and morality, truth is exculpatory.
Moral and intellectual judgment ought never have been so easily cast aside in Jerusalem as it was in Washington. From the start, Israel ought to have known much better than to openly align its core interests with unprecedented Trump crimes and derangements. Stingingly ironic, too, is that a principal surviving remnant of the Jewish People – that is, the legitimate Jewish State born directly from the ashes of genocidal murder – could have chosen to identify its interests and ideals with such a sorely manipulative American leader.
“Never again.” Makes sense, of course, but not just for us. Judicially and Judaically, any such suggested Jewish exclusivity is indefensible. Patently, it is an oxymoron.
There is more. Certain concrete or tangible wrongs must be re-considered and taken into full account. Proudly, Donald Trump stood cheerfully by assorted hate groups that vilify both universal human rightsand the particular Jewish ideals of Higher Law and justice. When this former president adopted barbarous and illegal positions on immigration (i.e., positions that undermine various peremptory legal obligations concerning the legitimate rights of refugees), and willfully separated thousands of young and infant children from their families at US borders, the pertinent American offenses were more serious than “merely” illegal. Simultaneously, they represented a slap in the face to a people that had long-suffered from a frightful history of forced expulsions and international exclusions – The Jewish People.
Stephen Miller, Trump’s favored personal “architect” of immigrant exclusions, is himself the grandson of Jewish refugees from anti-Semitic pogroms. A key tenet of his grim standard for refugee admission to the United States had been “merit.” Like Trump, Miller pompously stipulated that only “the good ones” ought to be admitted.
What Happened to the Words of Emma Lazarus?
There is more. In once unimaginable cases, Trump-created immigration offensesand his corollary criteria of selection reeked of earlier harms perpetrated against defenseless European Jews.The ironies are unspeakable, but they still remain worth noting.
Now, for those Israelis who were willing to cultivate US presidential support at all costs and whatever the concessions, relevant details should appear painful to recount. To the end, under the starkly indifferent aegis of Donald J. Trump and his coterie of dedicated sycophants, an official US pattern of illegality included forced deportations of minor children and forcible expulsions of the most severely disadvantaged. It is not a pattern that ought ever to have been overlooked or embraced by a “Jewish State.”The contradictions are simply too plain to see, too monstrous and too defiling.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…..” say the words on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, words from never-to-be-forgotten Jewish author Emma Lazarus.
Other serious issues were involved in Israel’s willingness to betray its most sacred ideals in “realistic” exchange for Trump patronage. Most perplexing and worrisome of all were those matters that centered on the always-key realms of war avoidance and peacemaking. In all these essential matters, this US president’s complete lack of any informed and coherent vision of foreign affairs was consequential and obvious. How could these irremediable debilities ever have been so totally ignored in Jerusalem?
By preferring visceral seat-of-the-pants planning (“attitude, not preparation,” said Trump) to any focused forms of policy creation, the former president sought to “reward” Israel with a series of marginal “victories” – e.g., moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a demonstrably Faustian agreement to arm the UAE with US F35s as quid pro quo for diplomatic recognition by Abu Dhabi, and the so-called “Abraham Accords.” At best, all of these alleged “gifts” to Israel will represent more-or-less Pyrrhic victories.
Trump, “Palestine” and Iran
All presumed Trumpian benefits to Israel either ignore or exacerbate the more authentically critical security problems still at issue in Israel’s volatile regional “neighborhood.” Most obvious and enduringly problematic here are the expectedly continuous antipathies of the Palestinians, and also the still-accelerating nuclearization of Iran. In this regard, Trump’s unilateral US withdrawal from the JCPOA pact with Iran and his subsequent enhancement of selected Sunni Arab states only made matters worse.
Further marginalizing Iran could hardly signal a propitious security outcome for Jerusalem.
Also, going forward, the several Palestinian elements seeking sovereignty with a determined prise de conscience, with an aroused consciousness, will not only remain fixed on achieving their overriding national goal. Plausibly, they will further prepare for the next hideous rounds of intercommunal violence. All this suggests, most urgently and with de facto compliments of Donald J. Trump, yet another intifada.
What about the Trump-vaunted Abraham Accords? At every level of assessment, these agreements, negotiated via the American president’s “good offices” – and also the kindred deals with Morocco and Sudan – are devoid of any meaningfully gainful substance. In essence, to praise the Accords for enhancing Israel’s security is a bit like commending US President Ronald Reagan’s October 1983 invasion of Grenada on the grounds that Americans have not since had to face any catastrophic aggressions from Grenada.
When Israel-Palestinian relations and Israel-Iranian relations are taken into joint account, the “whole” of negative outcomes for Israel could prove vastly more injurious than the simple sum of the respective “parts.” Here, as authentic synergies, the net costs of pertinent Trump-brokered agreements would significantly exceed Israel’s net gains. By definition, this means that at least as long as we can assume an Israeli capacity to estimate the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action, Jerusalem’s participation in these concocted agreements was effectively irrational.
Even in the best of times, no one could reasonably describe the Middle East as a region of impending stability or collective security. In the worst of times, this endlessly-volatile region could very quickly descend into a substantially more far-reaching condition of chaos.Such a potentially lethal descent could have its precipitating origins in an impending nuclear confrontation with Iran – a confrontation made more likely by Trump’s earlier withdrawal from the Obama-era Iran pact (JCPOA) and by his mid-November 2020 queries about launching an American military first strike or in the still-expanding interstices of microbial assault (i.e., Covid19 pandemic).. In a credibly worst case scenario, these causes, augmented by similarly incoherent Trump withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq, would intersect synergistically.
Again, by definition, the calculable “whole” of tangible injurious effects suffered by Israelwould be greater than the simple sum of its component “parts.”
Reason and Anti-Reason
There is more. From its visibly disjointed beginnings, the posturing Trump presidency was detached from absolutely any identifiable considerations of history, law or diplomacy. Till the end, saddled with such overwhelming and self-inflicted debilities, the former American president “advanced” unashamedly toward ever-more conspicuous postures of anti-reason. These flagrantly non-analytic postures included conspiracy theories so morbidly vacuous and outrageous that they would make even the most witting fools blush with a well-deserved embarrassment. If this were not enough humiliation to worry about, all this critique ignores Donald Trump’s unhidden disrespect for elementary logic, most distressingly his false correlation of Covid19 testing with increasing illness and his corresponding “medical” recommendation that citizens consider taking household disinfectants by injection.
There is little here that is actually subject to dispute. Former President Trump’s disjointed Corona Virus policy continues to result in the needless deaths of a great many trusting Americans. Though lacking the “intent” or mens rea that is integral to the codified crime of genocide,the president’s Covid19 policy’s effect upon US civilian populations had been effectively genocidal.
From the standpoint of the victims and their families, the juridical fine point here is immaterial. It’s a bit like the parable of frogs being killed by the playful rock-throwing of young children. The boys may not have intended any such harms, but the frogs remain dead nonetheless.
From the start of the Trump Era, Israel had been forewarned. In all complex matters of world politics and foreign policy, this American president had always been operating ad hoc, without any considered plan or doctrine, lurching fitfully from one inane whim to another, always without sturdy analytic moorings.Whatever the subject, Trump navigated precipitously, jumping wildly from crisis to crisis, always without even an elementary grounding in theory, ideology or science. Like his appointed and uniformly obsequious subordinates, Trump read nothing, nothing at all. To the everlasting delight of his American followers, there were three places the former president would absolutely never choose to visit: a museum, the theatre or a library.
Is this an American president from whom Israel should ever have reasonably expected palpable wisdom or informed guidance?
The question is silly, on its face.
For Jerusalem, though very late in the “game,” the cumulative security consequences of any Trump-induced regional disorder (Trump said on several occasions, “I love chaos”) are apt to be far-reaching and at least partially irremediable. By assuming, without verifiable reason, that this US President had ever had Israel’s best interests in mind, or that he could conceivably have figured out what those national interests might actually have been, Israel must soon find itself dealing with otherwise once-avoidable regional crises.
Among several examples of relevant Trump errors and deceptions, the American President’s April 2018 attack against Syrian chemical warfare facilities should be brought to mind. This spasmodic or “seat-of-the-pants” US action had little tangible impact upon Bashar al-Assad’s genocidal dictatorship. Even worse, this photo-op generated attack emboldened various anti-Damascus regime insurgents holding jihadist orientations.
What actually happened? These hapless insurgents were quickly crushed by al-Assad’s armed forces, hardly a victory for democratic rule in Syria or for any society allegedly bound to the peremptory Biblical principle, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” Also worth noting: Because of Trump’s conspicuous disregard for scientific and theoretical underpinnings, matters could just as easily have gone the other way, effectively strengthening what was then a pro-ISIS adversary.
Other basic questions should now arise in US policymaking circles. Whatever the specific issue at hand, Donald Trump remained steeply beholden to Vladimir Putin; he would never have considered doing anything that did not first comport with the Russian dictator’s presumptive personal preferences. Why?
It’s not a silly question.
It finally deserves a proper answer.
Donald J. Trump could have cared less about Israel’s national well-being or even its physical security. Always, his cynical outreach to Israelis and American Jews had only on self-serving objective. This goal was to re-elect Donald Trump, and to extract ebullient homage for America’s reigning “emperor.”
Remembering History/Awaiting Chaos
Now, more than ever, history deserves appropriate pride of place. Since the seventeenth-century, the structure of world politics has been consistently anarchic or “Westphalian.” But anarchy means “only” the absence of authoritative central government. To fully unravel still-meaningful effects of the destabilizing Trump presidency, Israel would need to prepare more systematically for various “centrifugal” foreign policy developments. The object of such rampant geo-strategic disorder would be identifiable as chaos.
Quo Vadis? For Israel, a true condition of chaos could prove far more threatening than “mere” anarchy. In virtually any still-expressible form, this bewildering condition could play havoc with even the nation’s best laid plans. From the particular standpoint of Israel’s military readiness, chaos represents a constantly unpredictable, deeply frightful and ever-changing “correlation of forces.”Suddenly or incrementally, this correlation could impair all “normal” (and potentially indispensable) national security preparations.
There is more. This impairment could arrive suddenly, as a dissembling “bolt-from-the-blue” enemy attack, or less discernibly and less dramatically, in variously tangible but unforeseeable increments.
Whatever its mode of arrival, such results, for Israel, could be intolerable.
In large part, these results will have been generated by misconceived and manipulative US presidential thinking.
A new chaos is impending. For strategists and scholars, it must be differentiated from the more “normal”disorder associated with Carl von Clausewitz’s (the nineteenth-century Prussian military strategist) “friction” and correlative “fog of war.” At its core, this Trump-boosted chaos describes a deep and systemic level of uncertainty, one that could create unprecedented and residually primal forms of international conflict. It follows, for Israel, that regional chaos could quickly and conclusively smother any still-simmering hopes for some cumulatively gainful “Trump Effect.”
In essence, there was never any defensible legal or strategic reason for Israel to make sordid deals with a clinically-deranged American president; that is, to betray its national interests and ideals at the same time.
At best, the US embassy move and the Abraham Accords will prove of very limited consolation to Israel. At worst, these “rewards” (designed only for Trump’s domestic political benefit) will be responsible for accelerating anti-Israel passions and policies, including new waves of Palestinian terror in Judea. Samaria (West Bank) and Israel proper. Any such revived instances of Sunni-Arab terror could hasten rather than hinder the creation of a Palestinian state, a portentous outcome for “Palestine” that could generate certain ominous synergies with Iranian nuclear weapons development.
Once such creation had become a fait accompli, moreover, Israel would likely experience new incentives to initiate “anticipatory self-defense” options.
Wittingly, many states in world politics, not just Israel, must soon acknowledge steadily increasing risks from assorted forms of nuclear conflict. In this connection, Donald Trump’s sorely evident incapacity to suitably manage a nuclear crisis and/or control any more-or-less related military escalations is difficult to dispute. Should this US President have failed to prevent a single escalation from an ongoing crisis to overt nuclear warfare, the corollary effects could have impacted several other parts of the world. These effects would have arrived in the form of prompt, immediate or latent physical casualties, and less dramatically, as the probable cause of unique social and economic misfortunes.
Intersections and Synergies
World politics is not geometry. In these complex spheres of interaction, ones where complex synergies are often involved, the whole can become greater than the sum of its parts. For Israel, going forward, the most obvious chaos-generated perils could concern (1) escalating violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, Libya and/or Syria; and (2) near-simultaneous deteriorations in a still-ongoing Iranian nuclearization effort and/or in the many-sided Palestinian insurgency.
Facing these prospectively intersecting perils, Jerusalem is already well aware that the Hashemite monarchy in neighboring Jordan remains vulnerable to assorted new forms of Islamic radicalism. Also apparent to decision-makers in Jerusalem is that a continuously authoritarian el-Sisi military regime in Cairo might not be able to control the re-aspiring Muslim Brotherhood indefinitely. Nothing done by the Trump administration had addressed any of these key problems.
In principle, at least, the “Brotherhood” or its kindred organizations could sometime seek to get its hands on weaponized pathogens or even nuclear explosives. Regarding the “germ warfare” components, there would be great uncertainties about plausible effects of use during an already ongoing viral pandemic. What then?
There is more. Apropos of any derivative “Trump effects” upon Israel’s national security, Pakistan exhibits another critical site of wider-area disintegration, one that could suddenly transform a “merely” volatile Middle East from basic Westphalian anarchy to a genuinely unfathomable chaos. To wit, if the already-nuclear regime in Islamabad should sometime fall toJihadists, all other regional sources of chaotic disintegration could promptly pale into comparative insignificance. In this regard, there is absolutely no evidence that the Trump administration had accomplished even a modicum of appropriate planning.
In an expectedly worst case scenario for Israel, assorted Jihadists, emboldened by multiple expressions of Trump administration confusion and indecisiveness, would take singular or “hybrid” control in one or several of the more plainly unstable Sunni Arab and/or North African governments. Ultimately, these “martyrdom-driven” leaders could acquire certain game-changing weapons of mass destruction. This worrisome prospect, even if all acquired weapons were to remain non-nuclear, bring to mind the fearsomely correlative scenario of a “suicide-bomber in macrocosm.”
A Jihadist “hybrid” could be a terror-group amalgam (that is, no direct state component) or reflect an asymmetrical alignment between particular terror-groups and a kindred state or states.
With the still-expected advance of Trump-enhanced chaos in the Middle East, Israel could sometime have to face certain nuclear and ideologically Islamist enemies on both the Iranian (Shiite) and Arab (Sunni) fronts. Even in the absence of old enemies with new atomic arms, nuclear and biological materials could find their way to Hezbollahin Lebanonand/or Hamas in Gaza. Along the way, Jerusalem – perhaps still following former President Trump’s predictably uncertain and disjointed policies – could find itself having to take sides with one or another set of mortal enemies.
Political Philosophy and the State of Nature
Back in the seventeenth-century, the English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, already recognized that although international relations exist indefinitely in a “state of nature,” a condition of anarchy (not one of genuine chaos), these decentralized relations are nonetheless more tolerable than the condition of individual human beings living in similarly “everyone-for-himself” circumstances. This is the case, argued Hobbes, because nations, unlike individuals, lack the capacity to destroy one another.
But today, this once reassuring distinction is no longer meaningful.Thomas Hobbes was plainly unable to conceptualize a world with nuclear weapons. Now, proliferation of these weapons, especially in the Middle East, could quickly reduce the orthodox and relatively tolerable Westphalian anarchy of international relations to an authentically Hobbesianchaos, a “stateof nature,” one that could normally exist only between individuals.
Here, as more and more nations came to share what Hobbes had cleverly called “dreadful equality,” a more-or-less symmetrical capacity to inflict mortal destruction, the portent of regional nuclear calamity could become correspondingly more likely.
In his modern classic, “The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats wrote of a time in which “the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” Succinctly, the celebrated Irish poet then revealed what continues to elude historians, diplomats, statesmen and scholars:In the not-too-distant future, there could arrive a moment wherein there would be no safety in numbers, treaties, or armaments; no help from “civilizations;” no counsel from public authority; and no last-minute rescue from science. Such an apocalyptic “moment,” one made more likely by the residual effects of America’s ill-prepared and steeply corrupted former president, might rage for a long while, perhaps even until every flower of human culture had been trampled and once-intact human communities had been ground insidiously into dust.
From this seemingly resurrected medieval darkness, from this foreseeably Trump-facilitated chaos, there would be neither escape nor sanctuary. Rather like the “America First” or “know nothing” illiteracy that Mr. Trump had championed in the United States, such darkness could envelop entire regions of our long-suffering planet in a suffocating pall. What then? What will Americans have learned from the still-enduring horrors of Trump era declensions?
For Israel, the prime inheritor of Genesis, Trumpian chaos augured severe and paradoxical kinds of national fragility. As a continuously beleaguered microstate, Israel could still become (depending upon the precise extent to which it would have allowed itself to be manipulated and misguided by Trump “rewards”) the principal victim of an even more-rampant regional disorder. In view of the far-reaching interrelatedness of all world politics – always, everything is “system” – this victimization could arise even if the conspicuously precipitating events of war and terrorwere to occur elsewhere.
Oddly enough, a hideously triumphant global chaoscould reveal both sense and form. Generated by mutually reinforcing explosions of mega-war and mega-terror, any further Trump-induced disintegrations of world authority could assume a revealing shape. But how should such a unique shape, such a sobering “geometry” of chaos, be suitably deciphered and purposefully understood in Jerusalem? As a related and similarly vital question, Israel’s leaders would then need to inquire:
“How should we deal with potentially irrational nuclear adversaries, dedicated foes operating within both state and terrorist groups?”
Israel as System
There is more. Among other things, the whole world, like the individual nation-states that comprise it, is best understood as a system. By definition, therefore, what happens in any one part of this world always affects what happens in some or all other parts. When, for example, global deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one country to another, these effects could undermine international stability in general. When deterioration is sudden and catastrophic, as it would be following the onset of any unconventional war and/or act of unconventional terrorism, the unraveling effects could become more immediate and more overwhelming.
The State of Israel, a system of interdependent and interpenetrating parts like every other state, exists precariously in our larger world system. Aware that any Trump-inspired collapse of regional authority structures (most plausibly, in increments) had, in one way or another, impacted its few friends as well as its many enemies, leaders of the Jewish State should now advance variously informed expectations or scenarios of collapse. This would be done in order to best prepare suitable forms of response. Ultimately, recognizing that any rapid and far-reaching global collapse could spawn a more or less complete return to “everyone for himself” in world politics, or what philosopher Thomas Hobbeshad called in Leviathan a bellum omnium contra omnes, a “war of all against all,” Israel’s leaders must consider just how they should respond to any future national life in a global “state of nature.”
These considerations would not present encouraging or pleasing forms of analytic effort. Still, they would represent prudential national policy steps, and must therefore be undertaken. Such eleventh-hour considerations could be critical to the extent that the triggering mechanism of collapse would originate within the Middle East itself, from massive chemical, biological and, in the future, nuclear attacks against Israel. In these uncertain times of biological “plague,” the specific actions of any microbial assault would be largely unpredictable but nonetheless highly consequential.
Any chaotic disintegration of the regional or wider-world system, whether slow and incremental or sudden and catastrophic, would impact the Israeli system. Accordingly, following the intellectually and morally deficient Trump presidency, Israel will have to orient its military planning doctrines more expressly toward worst-case possibilities. Already, Trump-initiated US troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, opposed internally by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are accelerating regional instabilities in ways that are foreseeable and unforeseeable.
Will one predictable result of these ill-considered withdrawals be increasing pressure upon Israel to carry out assassinations/targeted killings on behalf of Washington? If so, what would this suggest about the true cumulative costs to Israel of the Trump-brokered “peace” agreements? This is a question well worth answering.
Looking to a Less Damaging Foreign Policy Future
In the final analysis, it will be apparent that the overall security costs of these pacts to Jerusalem will exceed the overall benefits. And this is to say nothing about any corresponding Israeli violations of international law mandated by American “largesse,” or about indiscriminate Israeli submission to misconceived US presidential authority. Though every sham can have a patina, this moral and intellectual Trump Era surrender could haunt Israel’s national integrity and self-respect for a painfully long time.
There is one last time-urgent observation to make about Israel’s witting subordination to Donald J. Trump’s incoherent plans and expectations. In mid-November 2020, Israel felt obligated to strike out at selected Iranian military targets in Syria. Simultaneously, in large part because of Trump’s earlier (and counter-productive) withdrawal from the Iran nuclear pact, Tehran had already been accelerating its preparations to “go nuclear.” On both conventional and unconventional weapon fronts, this former American president’s errors and incapacities had encouraged Iranian belligerence and strategic threats toward Israel.
In the end, Israelis, not just Americans, will have to extricate themselves from grievous Trump-engineered misfortunes.
To avoid similar judgments or mistakes in the future, Israeli leaders ought never calculate that the flamboyant wishes of an American president are ipso facto coincident with their own nation’s best interests. President Donald Trump inflicted deeply corrosive harms upon the United States, but he also set the stage for continuously creating corollary or corresponding harms to Israel. Now, these significant harms, left unresolved, could not only imperil the Jewish State’s physical security, but also its still-residual convictions concerning international justice and human rights.
A small nation that earlier chose to follow a dissembling and dishonest American patron must expect a future of significant lamentations and potential despair.
For Israel, from the start, any deal made by US President Donald J. Trump “on its behalf” was essentially a bad deal. “Proof” of this once-preventable result is already evident in moral and legal realms; it will soon become similarly clear in pertinent matters of strategy and self-defense. These matters will involve, inter alia, adversarial actions issuing forth from various sectors of the Sunni Arab world (including some that have been beneficiaries of Trump deal making); Shiite Iran (including various cooperating elements of both Sunni al-Qaeda and Shiite Hezbollah); and Afghanistan (mainly once-dormant Taliban foes resurrected by Trump’s seat-of-the-pants US troop withdrawals).
In this last example, the negative consequences of Donald Trump’s misconceived foreign policy (terrorist training and terrorist safe havens) will not stem directly from any US actions undertaken “on behalf of Israel.” Rather, these unwanted results will stem indirectly from a policy intended originally by the former American president solely for presumed benefit of the United States. Some or all of these discrete consequences could sometime combine in more-or-less unforeseen ways, creating strongly synergistic outcomes that are far worse than the calculable sum of their component parts. Incrementally, in such once-avoidable cases, the tangible costs to Israel of having wittingly acceded to Donald Trump’s lawless Realpolitikwill become more apparent and less remediable.
For Israel, the Jewish State, it doesn’t have to be this way. Recalling Rabbi Hillel, the relevant standard of correct behavior is longstanding, clear and compelling: “That which is hateful to you,” instructs Talmud, “do not do to your neighbor.”
It’s not complicated. For Israel and its American ally, the policy obligations are reciprocal, plain to see and altogether overriding.
Louis René Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue. His twelfth book, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, was published in 2016. His other writings have been published in Harvard National Security Journal; Yale Global Online; World Politics (Princeton); Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Israel Defense; Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College; Special Warfare; Oxford University Press; The Jerusalem Post; Infinity Journal; BESA Perspectives; US News & World Report; The Hill; and The Atlantic.
His Terrorism and Global Security: The Nuclear Threat (Westview, first edition, 1979) was one of the first scholarly books to deal specifically with nuclear
This article was first published in Modern Diplomacy