The revelation that the Trump transition team colluded with Israel to sabotage a foreign policy initiative by the Obama White House made the news, sort of, when the story broke at the end of November. But it has since died, pushed down by the relentless pressure in the media to “disappear” all things critical of Israel or its behavior.
Thanks to the ongoing investigation of Russiagate by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we Americans have learned that prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, some of his closest advisers responded to Israeli solicitation to derail a United Nations vote on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The effort to help Israel was implemented behind the scenes and in opposition to the official U.S. foreign policy.
Possible collusion with a foreign state has produced an avalanche of negative press coverage and congressional baying for blood related to Moscow and its President Vladimir Putin but similar action on the part of Israel has produced little to nothing in terms of a response from the Fourth Estate and political class.
Perhaps not too surprising, the story has actually taken a different turn, producing some opinion pieces, mostly from American Jews, insisting that Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law who was behind the effort, did the right thing because it was done “for Israel.” It is a sure sign of the invulnerability of those exercising Jewish power in the United States that something very close to treason involving a foreign country can be applauded with impunity. This is in spite of the fact that successful attempts to bury the story and even to justify what was done inevitably raises the issue of “dual loyalty” on the part of some American Jews who clearly see Israel as something that has to be protected and cherished even when it means doing serious damage to the American people and U.S. national interests.
One of the most illustrative opinion pieces written by an “Israel firster” appeared recently in Forward, America’s leading Jewish news and information website. It was entitled “Jared Kushner Was Right To ‘Collude’ with Russia – because he did it for Israel” before it was changed in the online edition to “Was Kushner doing the right thing?” The author, Daniel Kohn, lives in San Diego California. The article is particularly interesting as it makes a grotesque convoluted effort to not only justify what took place but also to sing the praises of Israel and all its works.
The extent to which the op-ed is characteristic of American-Jewish thinking regarding Israel is, of course, difficult to estimate but I would suspect that most Jews in the U.S., who are generally self-described progressives, would find much of it rather dubious, though many would be reluctant to openly criticize or counter the arguments being made for fear of ostracism by their community.
Kohn constructs a straw man around the fact that previous incoming presidential administrations have communicated with foreign governments during their transition periods. This is certainly true and even sensible. But, at the same time, meeting representatives of other countries cannot be allowed to undercut the policies being pursued by the White House team that is actually still in power. In this case, President Barack Obama had made clear that his opposition to the Israeli settlement expansion would be expressed through U.S. abstention on a United Nations Security Council vote condemning such activity.
In response, the government of Israel asked Jared Kushner to use Trump’s potential leverage to bring about a veto or delay in the resolution. Kushner clearly approached his task with some zeal, instructing incoming National Security Adviser Mike Flynn to contact the U.N. delegations of the countries on the Security Council to do just that, undercutting what Obama was doing. That is how the phone call from Flynn to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak came about.
Kohn also critiques the applicability of the Logan Act, which blocks American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States by claiming that it “would likely not be a successful litigation path.” He argues that Kushner was “already acting in an official capacity,” which is flat out untrue as he had no official status. If Kushner had in fact been an honest broker he would have gone through the State Department, but he was instead working covertly to subvert a policy being pursued by the legally-in-power President of the United States. There is no other way to look at it.
Finally, Kohn argues that the U.N. Resolution 2334 that was approved in spite of Flynn’s call, gives the Palestinians both “more leverage” and “moral authority” in any future negotiations with the Israelis. He sees this as a bad thing, that Kushner was therefore rightly “pursuing a moral agenda that would help Israel’s security.” This is really the crux of the matter as Kohn sees the Middle East in very simple terms: Israeli dominance is a good thing, enabling Netanyahu to dictate both the pace and consequences arising from the endless peace talks that only continue to sustain land thefts and human rights violations by a powerful Jews in dealing with virtually powerless Arabs. That is just the way Kohn and the Israelis want things to be, and, unfortunately President Donald Trump has now made clear that he endorses “that reality.”
There are altogether too many American Jews like Daniel Kohn who reflexively think as he does. Israelis are cheering in Jerusalem over Donald Trump’s surrender to them over the location of their capital, but real Americans should be mourning. The arrogance of Jewish power in the United States, exemplified by Kushner in regards to the United Nations and more recently concerning Jerusalem, means that U.S. citizens will be less secure when they travel, American businesses will have to think twice when seeking overseas markets, and diplomats and soldiers working in foreign Embassies and military bases will become targets. If there is an actual positive American interest concealed somewhere in the packages of concessions to Israel, I certainly cannot find it.