Trump poll battle goes to Israel
President Donald Trump swung into re-election mode the day he attacked four US legislators of colour and asked them to return to their countries. Like at most times, he was wrong, of course, as one of them had been born outside the US. Mr Trump has deliberately gone on the warpath against migrants and Muslims as a carefully-orchestrated strategy, so it was no surprise when he asked Israel not to allow two Muslim US Congresswomen — Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — into the country on a fact-finding mission to study the condition of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The strangeness of the US President asking a foreign nation to bar US legislators was apparent to all, but then Mr Trump isn’t known for following diplomatic niceties. This from a nation known for willingness to hold talks with all, including adversaries, such as in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The fact that Israel buckled is intriguing, even though their anti-Semitic stand could have been the excuse. But by relenting to the extent of allowing Rashida Tlaib to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu seems to have shifted somewhat, but on humanitarian grounds. Geopolitically, Israel is in no position to completely ignore Muslim voices, even if it is the regional bully that pounds even the hapless Palestinians with F-16s. The US ambassador is under fire for supporting the Israeli action; many feel he should have been seen upholding the rights of American citizens (including legislators). America’s strong bonds with Israel are unlikely to be affected by a few critics, but Benjamin Netanhayu could be worse off than his friend Donald Trump. The US President’s power play seems to be trumping all.