Trump and Haley Deliver the Goods William Mehlman

 

In the Orwellian fog rapidly subsuming Western democratic society, what divides the keffiya-clad attacker of a Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam mere hours after Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the 128-9 vote in the UN General Assembly to render that recognition void,  is more a matter of style than substance. Both were acts of nullification, the “No!” screamed at objective truth in the hope it can be made to go away.

The President of the United States is being both hailed and vilified for arguably the most courageous act by an American head of state since Harry Truman welcomed Israel into the family of nations. All Donald Trump was doing, in fact, was acknowledging a reality that has stood before the eyes of the world for seven decades. Jerusalem has been the site of Israel’s parliament, its Supreme Court and all but one of its ministries through all of that period. The organs that define its sovereignty have been implanted in Jerusalem’s soil for 3,500 years.

President Trump’s embrace of Jerusalem’s status, moreover, is informed by American law, a 1995 bill passed unanimously by the Senate mandating the transfer of the U.S. embassy to the city from its present domicile in Tel-Aviv. The then-Clinton Administration, pressured by the State Department, strove mightily to dilute the bill’s impact. The State Department ultimately got its way with a codicil giving present and future occupants of the White House continuous six month waivers against implementation if they deemed that doing so would constitute an impediment to the nation’s diplomatic and strategic interests.

Refusing in October to put his signature to yet another six-month waiver, Trump signaled that he was freeing the 22-year old embassy bill of its inherent self-nullification and setting the stage for a new chapter in U.S.-Israel relations. “The idea of Israel being the only country that can’t choose its own capital is ridiculous” he said.

In confronting the “International Community” and its 2017 bi-cameral  riff on Orwell’s  “Ministry of Truth,”  the UN Security Council  and General Assembly, the president has at his side former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley,  the boldest, most combative  American ambassador  the glass house on Second Avenue has seen since the glory days of Jeane Kirkpatrick  and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.  It is more than three decades since American interests, from the eastern Mediterranean to the northern Pacific, have been so clearly articulated and vigorously pursued. To her further credit, Haley has invested nearly as much passion in defending Israel against the never-ending hostility of its most predatory UN neighbors. Her value to Israeli ambassador Danny Danon has been immeasurable.

That there’s been nothing like the Trump-Haley relationship in the annals of American diplomacy is deeply underscored by the Jerusalem recognition issue. Neither party has any intention of giving ground. Responding to Haley’s labeling “an insult that will not be forgotten” the 15-1 Security Council vote demanding a U.S. walk-back of its decision to plant its embassy on Jerusalem’s iconic turf, Trump replied “I like the message Nikki sent to all those nations who take our money and then vote against us. Our great citizens are tired of us being taken advantage of and we are not going to be taken advantage of any longer.” Their reaction to UN abuse has rapidly been manifested in an announced  $280 million initial reduction in America’s $3 billion UN budget.

The Trump-Haley message was even more explicit in response to the 128-9 spanking delivered to the U.S. on a similar walk-back demand by the General Assembly. Echoing Trump’s insistence on the “exclusive sovereign right of any nation to choose its capital,” Haley declared “America will put its embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do. No one in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote,” she added,” will make a difference on how America looks at the UN and how we look at countries in the UN that disrespect us. And this will be remembered.”

 

William Mehlman represents AFSI in Israel.

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