I don’t know if President Trump realizes what the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem means to the American Jewish community. His failure, so far, to deliver on his promise is troubling.
I voted for Trump because he promised to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem, because I was tired of the way President Obama treated Israel, and because I was not sure that Hillary Clinton would be more pro-Israeli than Trump.
Now, that President Trump failed to live up to his promise, I have doubts that any American president in my lifetime will relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem. I also have concerns that in some areas, Trump will be more difficult toward Israel than Obama, not because he has anti-Israeli views, but because he is financially concerned about subsidizing other countries. Israel has been at the top of the list of American aid for a long time. This is unlikely to change during Trump’s presidency, but it may affect the way these subsidies are distributed (more American made goods, less American dollars invested in the Israeli defense companies).
Trump has made a mistake when he shared with the Russian ambassador specific intelligence provided to him by Israel. According to the press, sharing the information may have potentially exposed Israeli agents in enemy territories. As much as it hurts, Israel cannot afford to publicly criticize President Trump about the damage that was done. However, this incident is likely to make Israel less willing to share information with American agencies. It could weaken the US ability to prevent attacks on American citizens by Middle Eastern terrorists.
Trump’s visit to Israel last month came and went without making any significant public deviation from the existing status-quo about the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. It seems that for fear of upsetting him, the Israeli government is more compliant with American demands now, than it ever was with President Obama’s demands. At the conclusion of Trump’s trip to the Middle East, my view is that Trump is more concerned about alienating the rich Arab countries, which he hopes will bring new investments in American technology, than about living up to his promise to be the best American president to Israel.
On the bright side, there was a drastic change in the UN as soon as President Trump’s appointed Nikki Haley as the US ambassador to the United Nation. Almost overnight all the anti-Israeli votes and initiatives in the UN had stopped. Nikki’s strong and vocal position about the unfair criticism against Israel in the UN, and President Trump’s threat to reduce the American contribution to UN agencies, have made a difference. (Which begs the question why there were so many anti-Israeli votes in the UN during the Obama administration.)
So far, Trump’s actions remind me the first President Bush. Bush too, was focused on maintaining close relationships with the rich Arab countries. Israel was a distant second on Bush’s priority list. It is still early in the Trump’s presidency to make any conclusion, I don’t want to rush to judgment. However, the clock is ticking. I hope to see a change, and I hope to see it soon. Now, that Trump (like his predecessors) is keeping the American embassy in Tel Aviv, he needs to balance it with a strong signal that he is truly on Israel’s side.
Behind the scene pro-Israeli actions are good. The problem is that no one knows about them. Israel’s supporters and its enemies are looking at Trump’s public actions to determine where he stands on this issue. In his visit to Israel, President Trump did make history in one respect; Trump was the first American President to visit the Kotel (Western Wall) while in office. I’m looking forward to see more pro-Israeli “firsts” from the president in the coming months. I haven’t lost confidence in Trump yet, but I can’t say that I’m not wondering if the promises he made about the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem will be conveniently forgotten with time.