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What Trump is Doing in Jerusalem and Why He is Doing It

Trump does seem like a dangerous idiot suddenly and unexpectedly set loose on the world of international affairs, a world which normally assumes an appearance of restraint and order and careful words.

With virtually everything he touches, he resembles a big, ungainly child breaking things – International trade agreements, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Russia, and, now, Jerusalem.

He seems to enjoy creating new problems and tensions, he does it so much. It’s certainly a way to maintain yourself as the center of attention, much as with his stream of “tweets,” only notable for their ability to shock and surprise millions unused to such words from a man in high office.

Trump’s psychological make-up has something in it of the Oscar Wilde line about it being better to be talked about badly than not talked about at all.

Of course, there is only one explanation for this decision on moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.

It is not an act to promote peace in the region. It is not even an act in America’s own long-term interest. Quite the opposite, indeed. It goes against the cautions expressed by many statesmen. And Trump is not religious, neither Jewish nor a practicing Christian, so Jerusalem and efforts to push dusty old Biblical texts into contemporary world affairs mean nothing to him.

Netanyahu is known to have heavily lobbied for this move, over and over. And we know from the inadvertent testimony some years back of high-level witnesses – former Presidents Sarkozy of France and Obama of the United States – what a relentless, headache-inducing man Netanyahu can be. Obama opined to Sarkozy, during an accidental open-mic event, about having to deal with daily calls from him after Sarkozy had complained about having to deal with him.

Trump has most certainly been assured that there will be favorable reciprocity for his taking this action, and deals are what Trump likes. There simply can be no other motive for what he is doing. What form could that reciprocity take, apart from generous campaign contributions, which are perhaps less needed by billionaire Trump than most other candidates?

Trump is a man with a massive, unquenchable ego, and he is undoubtedly tired of being attacked in the press. He has had a terrible time with the press – the big national press, what the British used to call “the quality press,” both print and broadcast – where he has been treated in a relentlessly hostile manner.

It is not prejudice to observe, but simply a fact, that a large portion of America’s high-end press and broadcasting is owned and managed by Jewish Americans.

And the practice of that press’s journalism always has been to treat Israel extremely favorably, whatever views, liberal or conservative, they may take of domestic American affairs. As just one example, the New York Times has long had the practice of submitting all stories concerning Israel to the official Israeli censor before publication, hardly the stuff of unbiased journalism.

So, it is probable that we will see a definite, but gradual, change in the tone of Trump’s treatment by the press.

Any easing of the intense opposition to him, any effort to make him look more sensible and friendly and palatable, especially in the high-end press, can only ease the constant controversy under which he works and help his chances for re-election.

Remember, we know from his own words, Trump relishes being regarded as “presidential,” even if he is so frequently incapable of behaving so. He likes dressing “white tie” even if his conversation resembles that of the manager of a small trailer park in Arizona on the Mexican border who sells XXX videos as a sideline.

Trump’s action, of course, means that any Democratic candidate in 2020 will be at a disadvantage publicity-wise, unless that candidate raises the Israel-Palestine stakes still higher. Which is always possible. Just consider the past words and acts of a number of Democratic candidates, as for example, Hillary Clinton, who was once recorded screeching insanely that she was ready wipe Iran, a country of about 80 million people, off the map.

This explains just one of the reasons Trump’s action is not in his country’s long-term interest. America has suffered a great deal already in a bidding war that way, a bidding war for press support and campaign funds, over the narrow interests of a small country which seems never to be able to live in peace with its neighbors and seems always to demand increasing levels of American support and subsidy.

Israel is a country which seems incapable of controlling its behavior, but it one also blessed with the extraordinary birthright resource of a large and successful and influential group of co-religionists in America plus an even larger population of Christian fundamentalists who regard the plain nightmare madness of the Book of Revelations as sacred text and promise.

Never mind what Trump’s act does for international affairs. The contemporary American view, and certainly the view of Trump, is that most of “those people” out there don’t count anyway, especially most of the Muslim world.

After all, America has spent the last decade and a half killing about two million of them, creating countless refugees, and literally destroying several countries. And the last year’s rhetoric from Trump and some of his supporters might well make you think America views Muslims as the just target of a new Holy Crusade.

Muslim refugees – who are the direct result of America’s destructive Mideast wars, wars conducted largely for Israel’s benefit – are frequently not written and spoken about in America as refugees, they are shamelessly regarded as undesirables, as security risks, as criminal elements. Such stuff flows daily like an open sewer from articles and reader comments in that part of Internet journalism which has served as Trump’s unqualified source of support, the Alt-right.

It, of course, plays right into the hands of Israeli politicians and lobbyists who relish anything which makes their aggressive, law-breaking efforts to seize still more of the property of others resemble some kind of worthy campaign against the forces of darkness.

I can only imagine what Trump’s reaction would be if a large group of Mexican migrants squatted on his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Rather than support them in their claim, he would most certainly strap on his six-shooter and help drive them off, undoubtedly driving them all the way to the Mexican border, shouting wildly the whole time.

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John Chuckman lives in Canada.

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