The Jerusalem Fiasco Proves That Trump Is a Human Troll for Whom the Suffering of Others Is Pure Abstraction

Politics Features Israel
The Jerusalem Fiasco Proves That Trump Is a Human Troll for Whom the Suffering of Others Is Pure Abstraction

Later today, Trump will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It’s a move that will incite violence in a part of the world that really doesn’t need more violence, and the painful truth is that there’s absolutely no need for it.

Here’s the source of the tension, per the NYTimes:

Jerusalem is one of the world’s most fiercely contested swaths of real estate, with both sides disputing each other’s claims. West Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, but the Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and most of the world considers it occupied territory. Jerusalem’s Old City has the third-holiest mosque in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism, making the city’s status a sensitive issue for Muslims and Jews worldwide alike.

This is why the U.S. has never officially recognized the city as the capital of Israel, and has kept its embassy in Tel Aviv. Now, make no mistake—the U.S. has long supported Israel in every way possible, with money, arms, and rhetoric. We have never been a friend to Palestine. Even the first of the two Camp David peace agreements, signed in 1978, failed to involve the Palestinians and earned UN condemnation for the “oversight.” Since the foundation of Israel in 1948, it has been considered political suicide for a candidate from either party to express support for Palestine, or even to be lightly critical of Israel.

The point I’m making is that the U.S. has spent 70 years tacitly and overtly supporting Israel, and thus contributing to the misery of the Palestinian people. That policy has continued under Trump, and will probably continue under the next president, and on and on. There is absolutely no need to make an incendiary symbolic gesture regarding Jerusalem—it does nothing for us, and nothing for Israel, and will only spark violence in the world’s most explosive geopolitical religion. It will likely ruin the peace process, which is already down to the dying embers.

So we have to ask: What the hell is the purpose?

Before I speculate, let’s go back to the Times and examine the immediate effects of this move:

Mr. Trump spent Tuesday morning explaining the policy change in telephone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel; Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president; and to Arab leaders who warned him that it would disrupt the peace process, perhaps fatally, and could unleash a new wave of violence across the region.

“Moving the U.S. embassy is a dangerous step that provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world,” King Salman of Saudi Arabia told Mr. Trump in their call, according to Saudi state television.

Late on Tuesday, Palestinian national and Islamic groups issued a joint statement calling for three days of “popular anger” to protest Mr. Trump’s move, beginning on Wednesday throughout the Palestinian territories and in demonstrations at United States embassies and consulates around the world.

Fearing attacks, the American consulate in Jerusalem barred employees and family members from going to the Old City or the West Bank, while the State Department urged embassies around the world to tighten their security.

Let’s be crystal clear: This useless move will lead to death, and if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care about brown people dying, know that some of the dead will be Israelis, western Europeans, and Americans.

Getting back to the question of “why,” Trump claims it’s because of a campaign promise regarding the embassy. But that doesn’t quite explain it—he’s only attempted to fulfill a fraction of his campaign promises, and most of those attempts haven’t gone well.

So, really…why this, and why now?

There’s only one answer that comes to mind: Trump’s main leadership tactic is being a performative human troll on a grand scale. He can’t lead like a normal president—he either fails to pass promised legislation or signs off on hugely unpopular bills like tax reform—and in the face of his own failure, he makes big sweeping statements and gestures designed to broadcast the core hatred that made him so popular with the American right. He leads by empty decree, and the fuel for his presidency is the rage and zealotry of his followers.

There’s no rational way to explain forcing the Jerusalem move down the world’s throat. His supporters barely even try. Look at this justification by Morton Klein, president of something called the “Zionist Organization of America”:

“It is high time to move the embassy to Jerusalem.” He added, “Not moving it to Jerusalem for 22 years has not brought us closer to peace.”

“I want it to happen, it’s definitely not going to make things worse, but the situation was probably screwed anyway.”

How about that for responsible politics with lives at stake? There’s absolutely no thought or diplomacy behind these moves.

And—this is important—Trump doesn’t give a damn about the consequences. This is what happens when you elect a narcissist who is utterly bereft of empathy. He’s quite happy to move the chess pieces willy-nilly, knowing that the one person who matters—himself—won’t be affected. The death and suffering of others, or the worsening of a bloody global conflict? That’s pure abstraction.

This is deeply irresponsible, and even Benjamin Netanyahu—a zealot in his own right—hasn’t spoken out publicly in support of the new designation.

But Trump doesn’t know even the loosest form of restraint. He doesn’t care who this move hurts, and he doesn’t care that it will have no practical benefit to America—it’s irrelevant to him that there’s no good reason for it. He’s a troll, and he’s operating with the thuggish certainty that when things turn violent, there’s a certain kind of person for whom his anti-Muslim rhetoric will sound even more appealing. The world will be a more dangerous place after today, but our president could not care less. This is Trump at his essence—demagogic, damaging, irresponsible. He’ll let the world burn, as long as he can emerge with a smug smile at the end.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin