The Israelis are doing it again. That thing they do when someone, anyone, even a total nishtgutnick like Donald Trump, comes along and tosses them a few warm words. Their little hearts leap to be told that, on balance, all things being equal, they have a right to exist, perhaps even to defend themselves, and that calls for their destruction are jolly well not on. Recognition is a miser’s feast but Israel gorges on it like a banquet.
They are dining out on Donald Trump’s proclamation ‘that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and that the United States Embassy to Israel will be relocated to Jerusalem as soon as practicable’. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared it ‘a historic day’. President Reuven Rivlin said there was ‘no more fitting or beautiful gift, as we approach 70 years of the State of Israel’s independence’. The walls of the Old City were illuminated with Israeli and American flags in celebration.
Barely had the timbrels begun jangling than Donald Trump signed a waiver deferring relocation of the embassy for another six months. American foreign policy was changing in tone but not in substance. The Israelis’ jubilation was matched only by the apocalyptic hysteria of those on the other side; not just the Palestinians but Israel’s true enemies: the foreign policy establishment. The diplomatocracy, the academics, and the New York Times were up in arms – a sure sign that the President had made the right call. European politicians echoed the denunciations.
In fact, Trump’s proclamation was neither Zionist heroics nor reckless grenade-throwing – it was just mundane acknowledgement of the law. As he said yesterday, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, calling on the federal government to recognise Israel’s capital and relocate its embassy there.