The aborted terrorist attack in Manhattan makes me wonder why the United States goes out of its way to inflame crazies into acts of terror.
Of course, we don’t know that President Trump’s announcement that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv was what set the Port Authority bomber off but we do know that every president since Bill Clinton has decided against moving the embassy out of fear of terrorism.
And, with good reason, Middle East experts and diplomats have said for years that declaring that Jerusalem, holy to three faiths, was to be Israel’s capital (with no recognition of Palestinian rights there) would set off explosions worldwide. There have already been attacks in Israel itself. Attacks here seem inevitable considering it was our reckless president who made the decision and then went on worldwide television to proudly stick it into the face of anyone who might be offended.
Nothing excuses violence against civilians. Nothing. Certainly American commuters should not pay the price for an action that few even care about. But reality is reality. Whether we think anyone should respond to a US announcement on Jerusalem by trying to kill innocents, we know that is what some will do. They are terrorists, after all. Or unhinged. Or just furious. In any case, we need to consider their reactions when we adopt policies that, I hate to say it, look like invitations to terror.
This does not mean giving up on fundamental values or policies because we fear the reaction by those who are offended by them. It does mean to stop adopting policies that have nothing whatsoever to do with American interests, values or national consensus but are merely designed to please some domestic constituency.
The “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” which Trump said he was heeding with his decision last week, is 100 percent the product of pressure exerted by the Israel lobby, specifically the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It wrote the legislation and lobbied Congress to pass it using every pressure tactic in its arsenal from the giving or withholding of campaign contributions to threats.
From my years working at AIPAC, I know precisely why they came up with the idea behind the Jerusalem gambit. Like all lobbies it needs a vehicle to organize around and to keep the money rolling in from donors. It chose Jerusalem even though, in no way, is Jerusalem’s status as Israeli under any kind of challenge. Members of Congress, pressured by their donors, rolled over as usual and the bill quickly became law.
AIPAC has every right to do that. As far as worrying about the law’s impact on actual Americans, it worries precisely as much as the National Rifle Association does about the impact of its bills that would put guns in every public place in the country. Not their problem. AIPAC, like the NRA, does what is in its organizational interests. Our government should do what is in ours.
The bottom line is that Trump’s announcement, just like the legislation that led to it, is all about politics not policy. It serves no US interest and hardly any Americans care about it one way or another. (Other than on the religious or nationalist right, few Israelis care about the embassy/capital issue either.) Nor does Trump’s action solidify our relationship with Israel which is stronger than with any other country, regardless of where our embassy is. And regardless of whether our endless siding with Israel in every situation is in US interests either.
All this action does is enrage religious Muslims for no reason whatsoever. And endanger Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, Europeans and others around the world.
Some principles are worth dying for. This action, just politics and not a principle at all, isn’t worth even one person being injured. How about considering that next time? Never give in to terror when our principles are at stake. But when it’s just politics, forget about it.
Someone needs to tell AIPAC that enough is enough.