Worried About Trump’s Motives


What a nuanced and thoughtful column by Gary Rosenblatt on President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (“Recognizing Jerusalem: A Good Move For The Wrong Reasons,” Dec. 15).

I’m pleased with the move but cautious for somewhat different reasons than Rosenblatt is. As he noted, President Trump’s primary motive for making the announcement was to please the evangelical Christians who make up his base rather than doing it for Israel. Had he wanted to take political action on Israel’s behalf, he would have done something to confront Iran, which is Israel’s most significant enemy. Instead he focused on Jerusalem, a minor issue in Israeli politics. There was an ancillary benefit of pleasing the settlers, the far right, the ZOA and Sheldon Adelson. But that wasn’t the key motive.

This is the part that troubles me. We who support Israel are justifiably pleased with the decision. But evangelical Christians have their own motives and plans. These will eventually be quite apart from what is in Israel’s best interests. Seeking continuing evangelical support can lead the president to decisions that will ultimately harm Israel.

Finally, it is a political danger for Israel and American Jews to be too close to Trump. He seems to be toxic to those around him. I’m worried that if Israel is perceived as a particular friend of the president, Israel will suffer consequences in American politics. For example, I worry that Democrats running in 2018 will feel freer to oppose pro-Israel policies.