So, yesterday, Donald Trump was at a MSNBC town hall - as one might expect, really - and the conversation turned to Israel. Astonishingly, for the first 1 minute, 20 seconds of this, Trump's response was not horrible: Trump seemed to actually recognize the basic, fundamental problem in the region. Which is to say, that one side - the Palestinians - have been carefully taught up to want to kill all the Jews. That is, in fact, the ultimate obstacle for peace in the region: we are letting one side tell its subjects with impunity that they can aspire to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean. And if Trump had simply ended it there: well, good.
But no: instead it then it had to all go to Hell in a hand-basket. From the Daily Wire.
Joe Scarborough asked Trump, “Whose fault do you think it is?” Trump refused to answer. Scarborough reiterated: “You think Israelis or the Palestinians?” Trump answered:
I don’t want to get into it for a different reason, Joe, because if I do win, you know, there has to be a certain amount of surprise, unpredictability. Our country has no unpredictability. If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you and the other side, now say, “We don’t want Trump involved, we don’t want” — let me be sort of a neutral guy, let’s see what — I’m going to give it a shot. It would be so great; I would be so proud if I could do that….I don’t want to say whose fault is it; I don’t think it helps.
Two things about this. First, of course: Donald Trump had already said whose fault it was. It's the fault of the Palestinians, because they keep coming to the table under the assumption that 'kill all the Jews' is a viable negotiation position, instead of an invitation to be conquered and have an Imperial proconsul installed. Admittedly, in this the Palestinians have been historically encouraged by the other Middle Eastern states, who long ago decided that blaming Israel for everything wrong with their countries instead of blaming themselves was a smart tactic. It's just gotten worse, lately, because under Barack Obama the various hardcore Islamist terrorist groups out there have gotten more apocalyptic, and bolder. Which means that the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip are two* places whose rulers have possibly never been less amenable to negotiation than they are right now. So, no, we already have the unpredictability there right now. It's not helping. What we need is to be generating a bit more ominous certainty.
Second, and more to the point: there are tons of people who disagree with what I just wrote. Many people believe that the Israelis and the Palestinians are equally at fault. Many people believe that Palestinian suicide and rocket attacks are unhelpful, yet comprehensible responses to Israel's policies. And many people believe, despite what I think is against all rhyme or reason, that there can be a meaningful peace agreement made without first insisting that the Palestinians give up on trying to kill all of the Jews. Again, many people believe all of it... in the New York / DC Establishment. Mostly Democrats, to be sure; but there's more than a few ostensible Republican Beltway chattering-class types that believe that things will quiet down if those troublesome Jews would only not take so personally having their babies' throats slit. Your average State Department Permanent Undersecretary For Whatever would have nodded in agreement at the way that Donald Trump evaded the question of who is to blame for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and saying that is not a compliment in a Republican primary.
It does not surprise me that, when unexpectedly asked a question, Donald Trump reflexively tossed out a Beltway Bandit Establishment response that contradicted his earlier statements. The earlier statements were crafted to avoid riling up the GOP. This later stuff, though? Perfectly consistent with the elitist and slightly rancid political environment that Donald Trump is most comfortable with - so, again, I'm not surprised. I am, however, slightly disappointed. If Donald Trump wanted to run on something like this it's not as if the Democratic primary was over-booked.
PS: Watch carefully to see who gets upset. Or mocking, which is what upset people often do when they think that they're being watched.
PPS: One last thing. Donald Trump was not telling the truth when he said that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering and applauding when the Towers fell. He did not. But what he did see was this.
Those were Palestinians in East Jerusalem on the day of 9/11 (yes, the video was uploaded in 2006, because YouTube wasn't around in 2001). I don't think that all of those people are inherently evil, but at best they have been largely brainwashed into supporting something evil. We will go nowhere as long as we keep humoring the elitist delusion that you can ignore that kind of behavior; and it's a real shame that Donald Trump is so clearly prepared to make the same kind of Establishment mistakes.
*I'm not going to pretend.