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Israel’s Voters Deliver A Stunning Election Rebuke To ‘King’ Trump

With more than 90 percent of the vote counted in Israel, it appears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition have again failed to gain a majority in Tuesday’s elections.

While it is still unclear who, if anyone, will be able to build a majority coalition in the 120-member Knesset, the result makes it clear that Israeli voters were not swayed by the interventions of the man who tweeted recently that he is “King of Israel” — Donald Trump.

Though as a 2016 candidate Trump vowed to be completely “neutral” in the Israel/Palestine conflict, he has since sought to position himself as a staunch ally of Israel.

Last month, Trump quoted a series of bizarre comments from far-right conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root. According to the tweets, “the Jewish people in Israel love [Trump] like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.” Root has previously described himself as “a Jew turned evangelical Christian.”

Trump has made no bones about his support for Netanyahu and his hope that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister would continue in the role unabated.

In April, Netanyahu’s Likud Party won 35 seats and the chance to form a government with smaller conservative parties. A delighted Trump gloated that people at Netanyahu’s “VICTORY celebration” had held a Trump flag and then congratulated the man he believed to have won.

As the coalition building hit a snag, Trump again announced his hope that “Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between American and Israel stronger than ever.”

When Netanyahu and Likud failed to find enough partners to form a majority, he pushed through a plan new election for September. In a last-ditch effort to aid Netanyahu, Trump announced on Saturday that he would negotiate a mutual defense treaty with Israel — a top priority for the prime minister. Netanyahu tweeted back his appreciation for his “dear friend” Trump.

On Tuesday, voters seemed unmoved. As of Wednesday afternoon, Netanyahu appeared to be six seats shy of a majority, with about 91 percent of the vote counted. Those numbers suggested his party had not even won a plurality of seats.

Trump’s pro-Israel stance has been unconvincing to most American Jews — a point that has irked him to no end. He recently accused them of being “disloyal” for backing Democrats, even though the overwhelming majority of American Jews vote for and identity as Democrats, and have done so for decades.

Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments (mistakenly thinking that stereotyping Jews is a compliment) and praised neo-Nazis and white nationalists as “very fine people” after a massacre in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Despite spending a great deal of his Wednesday morning on Twitter, Trump has yet to address the election results in Israel.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Trump’s Pressure On Iran May Spark Mideast Conflict

This article was produced by the Deep State, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Israeli attacks in three Middle East countries are pushing a volatile region that is already the scene of two long-running wars closer to a third. The lethal strikes show how the Trump administration has effectively outsourced the military component of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran to the Israel Defense Forces. As a result, one U.S. ally—Israel—is attacking another American ally—Iraq—supposedly for the sake of advancing American interests.

U.S. policy is literally at war with itself. More than 4,500 U.S. soldiers have been killed defending the Iraqi government and armed forces that Israel is now attacking. Last year, the United States gave Iraq $1.2 billion in total assistance. But then Washington gave Israel $10.8 billion, which it is now using to debilitate the forces the U.S. military has spent years building up.

On Saturday, Israel confirmed that its warplanes struck an Iranian-operated base in Syria that was allegedly preparing to launch a major drone attack against Israel. On Sunday, an armed drone struck a Hezbollah media center in the suburbs of Beirut. Hezbollah said it was the first Israeli attack in Lebanon since Israel and Hezbollah fought to a draw in 2006. Later Sunday, another drone strike in Iraq killed a commander of one of the Iranian-backed militias, known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMFs).

Israel did not confirm or deny the latter two attacks, but most news sites, including Israeli sources, assume Israel was responsible. Last week, “senior American officials” told the New York Times that Israel was behind several other unattributed attacks in Iraq.

Israel says that the PMFs constitute a threat to its security, by enabling Iran to move its short-range ballistic missiles closer to Israel. But Iraqis see the PMF, a coalition of some 60 militias, as necessary protection against ISIS. The PMF sprang up in 2014 when ISIS routed the Iraqi government forces and took over much of western Iraq. Supported by Iran and blessed by Iraq’s Ayatollah Sistani, the PMF fought alongside U.S. troops in driving ISIS out of western Iraq. Without the PMF, ISIS would probably still hold large swaths of the country.

Since 2017, the Iraqi government has been incorporating PMF personnel and weapons into its armed forces, with the goal of lessening the country’s dependence on Iran and gaining military units with battlefield experience. Faleh al-Fayadh, the chairman of the PMF coalition, is Iraq’s national security adviser. The idea was to weave the two forces together. Now Israel hopes to divide them.

Not surprisingly, the Israeli attacks are being denounced in a country where the U.S. is far from popular.

Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi ordered the U.S. military to ask permission before undertaking any flights in the country. (U.S. commanders said they would comply “immediately.”) Iraq’s ceremonial president Barham Salih called the attacks “a blatant, hostile act” that crossed the red line of Iraqi sovereignty. A pro-Iranian bloc holding 10 percent of the seats in the Iraqi parliament called the attacks a “declaration of war.”

But if Iraqis think the Israeli attacks are a declaration of war on them, there’s no doubt whom the Americans favor. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Sunday that the U.S. fully supports Israel’s “right to defend itself.” More than 15 years after attacking Saddam Hussein’s regime, the United States supports a secret war on the government that replaced him.

“The attacks in Iraq underscore the contradictions in U.S. policy,” said Paul Pillar, former CIA analyst for the region. “Here we have the administration not only not criticizing but actually applauding Israel for an armed attack on the territory of a friendly state that we are trying to help in other ways.”

Pressuring Iraq to join the campaign of “maximum pressure,” Pillar said in a phone interview, “is totally contradictory to the prosperity and stability of Iraq. They are dependent on trade with Iran and they are dependent on the popular mobilization forces for security. The attacks only increase Iraqi resentment of [the] United States and increase Iraq’s sense of dependence on Iran to protect itself.”

The reason why Israel and the United States are so hostile to Iran is that the Islamic Republic has taken advantage of U.S. blunders since 9/11 to consolidate its prestige and allies, while the U.S. and its allies have lost strength.

The U.S. policymakers sought to replace Saddam Hussein’s government with an anti-Iranian regime in 2003. They failed. Iran cultivated good relations with the new government and gained power and influence in Baghdad where it once had none.

In 2011, U.S. policymakers thought they could overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria by supporting Syrian “moderates” (of whom there were few) and al-Qaeda linked fundamentalists (of whom there were many). They failed. Iran supported Assad and (with Russian, Iranian and U.S. help) has mostly routed ISIS. Iran is now entrenched in Assad’s Syria as it never was before.

In 2015, U.S. policymakers thought Saudi Arabia could defeat the Houthi rebels in Yemen and deal a blow to Iran, the Houthis’ ally. They thought wrong. The Saudi coalition has inflicted the world’s worst humanitarian crisis on Yemen, yet achieved none of its goals. Now the U.S. is seeking peace talks to end the war, and the Houthis are openly embracing the Iranians.

Now U.S. policymakers expect the Iraqi government to ignore Israeli attacks and support the U.S. campaign against Iran, a larger neighboring country that supports its economy and bolsters its security. With the U.S. track record in the region, there’s little reason to think this will succeed. What Trump’s Iran policy lacks in coherence, it makes up for with recklessness.

Of course, the incoherent Trump could change his mind. He ordered and called off an attack on Iran for shooting down an unmanned surveillance drone, a sign that he has no desire to be a wartime commander-in-chief going into an election year. At the G7 summit, he played along with the gambit of French President Emmanuel Macron to open the door to talks with Iran. If the U.S. lifts sanctions, Iran is willing to talk, President Rouhani replied.

The Israelis are worried Trump might accept. After all, Trump threatened North Korea with fire and fury, only to warm up to Kim Jong Un and embrace negotiations over the objections of his advisers. Israeli escalation in Iraq—and the expected response from Hezbollah—will make it harder for Trump to change directions on Iran, which is why the attacks are likely to continue.

Jefferson Morley is a writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of the Deep State, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has been a reporter and editor in Washington, D.C., since 1980. He spent 15 years as an editor and reporter at the Washington Post. He was a staff writer at Arms Control Today and Washington editor of Salon. He is the editor and co-founder of JFK Facts, a blog about the assassination of JFK. His latest book is The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster, James Jesus Angleton.

 

‘I Am The Chosen One’: Trump’s Burgeoning Delusions Of Grandeur

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump is known for being absurd and off-the-wall, so there’s no doubt his defenders will write off his latest declaration of, “I am the Chosen One,” as just more playfulness from the commander-in-chief.

And on its own, the comment made Wednesday to reporters may indeed have been harmless. (Though conservative media, which accused President Barack Obama of having too high an opinion of himself, would have skewered the Democrat had he made such a claim while in office.)

But Trump’s boast was just one more point in a line of evidence that Trump has truly disturbing delusions of grandeur.

The president’s remark came as he discussed his ongoing and destructive trade war with China.

“Somebody had to do it,” he said, turning his head toward the sky. “I am the Chosen One. Somebody had to do it! So I’m taking on China.”

Earlier in the morning, Trump had tweeted:

It was a bizarre and off-kilter series of claims, attributed to a conservative conspiracy theorist known for spreading lies about Obama’s birthplace, like Trump.

But the idea that Trump is some sort of nearly divine figure in Israel didn’t just boost his ego — it inspired him to launch a truly vile anti-Semitic attack on American Jews. Having accused them vaguely of having either “a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump clarified Wednesday that he believes Jews who vote for Democrats are “very disloyal to Israel.” Of course, the idea that Jews have some sort of special inherent loyalty to Israel is an anti-Semitic myth, one that Republicans have and others have accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) of promoting.

The view that Trump is somehow divinely touched is not confined to Trump or Root. Claims like these have frequently emerged from Trump’s base of Evangelical support.

As The Guardian reported in 2018, a movie called The Trump Prophecy asserted that the president’s election was “an act of God.”

And after Trump was elected in 2016, evangelical Christian Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook:

Did God show up? In watching the news after the election, the secular media kept asking “How did this happen?” “What went wrong?” “How did we miss this?” Some are in shock. Political pundits are stunned. Many thought the Trump/Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. None of them understand the God-factor.

How much does Trump actually believe all this? It’s not clear. Though he says he is a Christian, he has shown minimal understanding of the Bible and seems to only embrace doctrine when it’s politically convenient.

If Trump does have religious faith, though, it wouldn’t be surprising that he would feature prominently as a main character in the mythos.

But whether he’s playacting or a genuine believer, Trump’s contention that he can fill the role of a savior is a truly dangerous one. It can lead him to blow up over minor slights, like the Danish prime minister’s dismissal of his offer to buy Greenland. It can lead him to overconfidence, as he’s demonstrating in his half-cocked trade war with China, barrelling forward without a plan even as a possible recession looms. It can lead to astounding boasts, as he declared in his 2016 speech at the Republican National Committee of the American political system: “I alone can fix it.”

Trump Brands American Jews ‘Disloyal’ For Supporting Democrats

Trump took his attacks on American Jews to a new low Tuesday when he accused them of being “disloyal” for supporting the Democratic Party.

“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

Trump has a long and ugly record of anti-Semitic remarks and behavior, though certainly his most infamous was his insistence in 2017 that rioting neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were “very fine people.”

He regularly conflates American Jews with Israeli politics, insisting that American Jews should support him because of his support for Israel’s right-wing prime minister. In April, while addressing a group of Jewish Republicans, he referred to Benjamin Netanyahu as “your prime minister.”

Trump has repeatedly tried to turn American Jews against the Democratic Party, even though they are overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal. A poll earlier this year found that just 25 percent of American Jews identify as Republicans.

That poll also found that 71 percent of American Jews disapprove of how Trump has handled the rise of anti-Semitism, while nearly 60 percent say Trump “bears at least some responsibility for the shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, [California].”

“The Jewish American electorate remains overwhelmingly opposed to President Trump, motivated largely by the Jewish community’s positions on domestic policy issues,” the Jewish Electorate Institute wrote in a summary of its poll findings. “These include immigration and health care, as well as concerns about rising anti-Semitism, gun violence, and rise of white nationalism, which respondents partially attribute to President Trump.”

Trump has never taken any responsibility for, or even addressed, the rise in anti-Semitic attacks during his time in office. He has made it quite clear that the only issue he thinks American Jews care about is Israel, and that his embrace of Netanyahu’s policies means American Jews should be supporting him.

But now, he’s gone a step further and accused his fellow Americans of disloyalty, though it’s not clear to whom he thinks American Jews should be loyal. To Israel? To Trump? To the GOP?

Accusing American Jews of insufficient loyalty is an outrageous claim for any politician to make, but it’s especially audacious coming from a man who regularly gives a wink and a nod to anti-Semitic white supremacists and has called the very people who riot against Jews “very fine people.”

Published with permission of The American Independent.