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"IF NORTH KOREA IS HERE, CAN THE PALESTINIANS AND IRAN BE FAR BEHIND?"

Kim and Trump shaking hands at the red carpet during the DPRK–USA Singapore Summit (Photo by: Dan Scavino Jr., Public Domain)

Was it a Hollywood extravagance or a turning point in world history, maybe even with a future impact on Iran? Of course, only time will tell. All the praise or criticism of Trump is sheer speculation.

Naturally, Israel hopes it will also affect Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Leading Israeli experts, such as Menashe Amir, see signs that the ayatollahs are worried that Trump may parlay the Singapore summit to mobilize greater pressure on Tehran. His scrapping of the 2015 deal has already forced several big European concerns to cancel lucrative deals with Iran for fear of being sanctioned by Washington. Most notably, the Nike decision to bar the Iranian soccer squad from wearing Nike sports shoes at the current World Cup. It's no contest when having to choose between doing business in the American and Iranian economies.

Jared Kushner (By Max Goldberg/Iowa State Daily from USA - Trump CAUCUS, CC BY 2.0)

Closer to home, Trump's special reps, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, are due in Israel and the region to take the wraps off of Trump's ideas in his long-anticipated peace deal for Israel and the Palestinians. They will get a very hot reception, if at all, by the Palestinians after Trump's historic transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem. Officials of the more "moderate" Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmud Abbas, declared, "It's a waste of time."

Meanwhile, Hamas, Abbas' less moderate rival in Gaza, is still busy trying to burn the Jews out of southern Israel. They continue their three-month campaign to bust through the Israeli border while floating overhead more kites and balloons attached to homemade, incendiary bombs. It's rather successful when they burst into flames after they are blown over the border and hit the ground. The westerly winds in the region sweep in from the Mediterranean over Gaza and blow them into Israel. To date, they have scorched huge tracks of farmland and nature reserves. Israeli flyers and local volunteers have been working round the clock to extinguish the flames, and so far the IDF has not come up with a non-lethal tactic to cope with the Palestinian version of a "scorched earth" strategy.

Question: I wonder what Vladimir Putin would do in similar circumstances? Hold on, I do recall some of Russia's tactics in Chechnia, but that's another story.

One other pertinent point - the long-anticipated details of Trump's peace proposal may also have influenced Netanyahu's handling of the ongoing Palestinian torching of Israeli territory. Israeli public opinion is hot under the collar, demanding a stiff reaction, and as for the civilians on the Gaza border, they are constantly plagued by air raid sirens. This obligates parents to wake up their children at night and rush to "safe rooms" build especially in their homes. However, if the IDF were ordered to carry out lethal retaliatory strikes into Gaza, this would trigger Hamas launching salvos of rockets into Israel. And with Kushner and Greenblatt on the way, this would put paid to any Trump peace proposal at the time. We all know what the boss would think about that.

Bibi and Donald...

There is a similarity between the public support for both the very controversial Israeli and American leaders in their respective countries. Both Netanyahu and Trump are highly criticized by the liberal, leftist, or "elitist" voters. They are both lambasted for their personal brushes with the law, mainly in their private lives, and their pandering to their political bases at the expense of democratic ideals. Even today many American commentators accuse Trump of trying to pull the wool over the eyes of American voters regarding the Singapore summit, although the jury is still out. This also appears to include a majority of Jewish American who tend to vote democrat.

Israeli PM Netanyahu and Russian PM Putin (photo by: Avi Ohayon, CC GPO National Photo Collection)

As for Netanyahu, he also draws his support mainly from middle and lower-middle-class voters. But here the issue is war and peace, the lives of Israeli soldiers, rather than "the economy, stupid". At present Bibi is riding high for his successful statecraft in forging good ties not only with Trump but also in his apparent understandings with Russian president Vladimir Putin - reportedly, they agreed on a deal that enables Israel to attack the Iranian military forces in Syria on condition that no Russian troops are endangered. In fact, recent polls show that if elections were held today, Bibi would trounce his rivals - Yair Lapid from the Center, and Avi Gabbay from the Left. This despite the fact that Bibi's administration reeks of fraud and he himself is being investigated on several counts of financial chicanery.

It is fair to say that the vast majority of Israelis feel that when the country's fate is at stake (for example, Iranian nuclear threat) or when the safety of Israeli soldiers is on the line. Even many Left-wing liberals will hold their own as they enter the voting booth, and vote for Bibi.






 

Political Analyst David Essing

David Essing

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