Explaining the Fracas over President Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement

Dec. 11 2017

The White House’s official statement last week acknowledging the location of Israel’s capital unleashed a torrent of indignant reactions: from Palestinian politicians (“President Trump . . . made the biggest mistake of his life”), to European politicians (a “catastrophe,” according to the Swedish foreign minister, shortly before a group of thugs firebombed a synagogue in her country), and even from U.S. Democratic congressmen who had voted for resolutions calling for the president to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem. Elliott Abrams, praising what he calls “a victory for common sense as well as for history,” analyzes the fuss:

So what explains the ridiculous overreaction? For someone like [the Democratic congresswoman Nancy] Pelosi, there’s a simple rule: never give Donald Trump credit for anything, period. For the Europeans, hatred of Trump combines with longstanding anti-Israel bias, especially in the foreign ministries. The many phony statements of regret and copious crocodile tears about possible forthcoming violence broadcast the clear hope that there would be plenty of rioting, just to prove Trump wrong. For Arab regimes, fearful of public sentiment that is always pro-Palestinian and often propelled by simple hatred of Jews, the path of least resistance and greatest safety was to denounce Trump’s move.

There will be violence if Arab rulers want violence, and very little if they want to stop it. The Palestinian Authority itself is the main exhibit here. It should be held responsible for violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank because its overreaction and its deliberate mischaracterizations of what Trump has done will fuel violence. When the PA closes schools—as it did the day following Trump’s remarks—so students can be free to riot, it is encouraging violence. . . .

What is the proper American response? To bow to threats of violence or to do what President Trump did and move forward? After all, when threats of violence and acts of violence are seen to change U.S. policy, there will be more of them. If, instead, they achieve nothing, there will be fewer of them. . . .

There is one additional reaction to Trump’s move that’s worth considering, even if it is silent and invisible. It is the reaction of leaders all around the world who will now take Trump’s promises more seriously. . . .So when next he makes a pledge or promise or threat, don’t you think Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin or Ali Khamenei will think twice before dismissing it? Seems logical.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Democrats, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Palestinians, US-Israel relations

Why a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Is Unlikely

Feb. 16 2018

High-ranking figures in the IDF, along with some Israeli and foreign officials, have been warning that economic troubles combined with severely deficient public works could lead to an outbreak of starvation or epidemic in the Gaza Strip; their warnings have been taken up and amplified in sensationalist stories in Western media. Hillel Frisch is skeptical:

The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises—mass hunger and contagious disease—is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This is what occurred in Darfur, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. In such situations, the first to leave are the relief agencies. Then local medical staffs evacuate, along with local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam. The destitute are left to fend for themselves. Hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and local government offices are soon abandoned or become scenes of grisly shootouts and reprisals.

Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Hamas, which is the main source of [misleading reports] of an imminent humanitarian crisis, rules Gaza with an iron fist. Few developed democracies in the world can boast the low homicide rates prevailing in the Strip. Nor have there been reports of any closings of hospitals, municipal governments, schools, universities, colleges, or dispensaries. . . .

Nor have there been news items announcing the departure of any foreign relief agencies or the closure of any human-rights organizations in the area. Nor is there any evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO), which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza. And that is for good reason. The WHO knows, as do hundreds of medical personnel in Israeli hospitals who liaise with their colleagues in Gaza, that the hospital system in Gaza is of a high caliber, certainly by the standards of the developing world. . . .

Hamas, [of course], wants more trucks entering Gaza to increase tax revenues to pay for its 30,000-strong militia and public security force, and to increase the prospects of smuggling arms for the benefit of its missile stockpiles and tunnel-building efforts. How Israel should react is equally obvious. You want more humanitarian aid? . . . Free the two mentally disabled Israelis who found their way into Gaza and are imprisoned by Hamas.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian economy