Op-ed: The prime minister’s silence in light of the violence, racism and even anti-Semitism of the new US administration could be defined as an attempt to satisfy the American president to achieve practical goals in the future. But is there more to it than an indecent tactic?

Our favorite sport recently is to try and guess—based on the past few weeks—what the relationship between the United States and Israel is going to look like. To be more accurate, what will the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump look like.

During the election campaign, and even more so since Trump’s election, Netanyahu has been preparing us for the fact that everything is about to change. A Zionist, pro-Israel and pro-settlement president will enter the Oval Office, and all our dreams will come true.

One doesn’t have to be a child psychologist in the public service to understand that Netanyahu, who always argued that his murky relationship with the previous president was not his fault but Barack Obama’s, will do anything to ensure that the new president looks like his best friend, partner and supporter. It was also clear that the tools Netanyahu would use to strengthen this feeling, and to tighten his friendship with Trump as much as possible, would be the tools he is well familiar with from home—in other words, flattery and obsequiousness.

Netanyahu and Trump. The closer and more loyal the flatterer, the faster he is betrayed and thrown to the dogs (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO) (Photo: Kobi Gidon)
Netanyahu and Trump. The closer and more loyal the flatterer, the faster he is betrayed and thrown to the dogs (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO) (Photo: Kobi Gidon)


But it seems that with Trump, like with Netanyahu, flattery and groveling generate the opposite outcome. And the closer and more loyal the flatterer, the faster he is betrayed and thrown to the dogs.

When the Israeli Right rejoiced after the elections and increased the pressure to expand settlement construction, move the US embassy to Jerusalem, confiscate land, and legalize outposts, Netanyahu told everyone to calm down and asked them not to present Trump with difficult facts. In other words, let him carry out what he promised in his own time. Even when the new administration’s spokespeople announced that the embassy would not be moved at this time, Netanyahu did not protest and did not demand that Trump keep his promise.

And how did Trump repay him for this gesture? His spokespeople leaked that the request to avoid moving the embassy actually came from the Israeli government.

When Trump issued a statement in honor of International Holocaust Day, everyone was shocked that it had failed to mention the fact that the Jewish people suffered the most during the Holocaust. Moreover, the Jewish people were not even mentioned in the statement.

Official Israel, and Netanyahu of course, did not respond. They chose to keep quiet. One can only imagine how official Israel would have responded had Obama omitted the memory of the Jewish people. US Jews were furious, and all their representatives—Jewish organizations, Holocaust commemoration organizations, the anti-Defamation League—were angry at the president and at his spokesperson, who allegedly forgot to stress that the Holocaust was the Holocaust of the Jewish people.

But it immediately turned out that it wasn’t absentmindedness; it was done intentionally. At first, the spokeswoman announced, as Holocaust deniers do, that the statement included all those who suffered during the Holocaust. The chief of staff clarified that he did not regret the words, and that everyone had suffered in the Holocaust, not only the Jews. The White House press secretary went as far as arguing, in an upgraded version of “some of my best friends are Jews,” that the statement’s text was examined by a Jew, an offspring of Holocaust survivors, and that he had approved the wording. In general, the press secretary added, the Jews should stop being so nitpicky and pathetic about this issue.

And official Israel is silent. And Netanyahu is silent.

The flattery reached new heights with Netanyahu’s miserable tweet, in which he first of all praised himself, but also flattered Trump on the future construction of a wall on the Mexico border. Trump rushed to retweet Netanyahu’s comment and, as we have learned, the fire that he ignited will not be put out so fast. The government in Mexico, as well as Jewish organizations, the press and the spokespeople, rushed to define Netanyahu’s comment as intentional flattery, contempt towards the Mexican nation and abominable ignorance. All of Netanyahu’s tricks and attempts to lash out at the Left and at the media, the artificial self-righteousness and the ridiculous denials, did not help. The Mexican government demanded, and received, a clear and specific apology, with the president of the State of Israel being called to clean up after Netanyahu.

At the same time, a storm began washing though the world. By signing an executive order banning the entry of citizens of seven countries defined as infected by terrorism, the Trump administration enraged nearly the entire world, apart from Israel. Despite all the attempts to soften the language, present alternative facts and change the wording—it was clear that this was an anti-Muslim ban. The uninhibited Rudolph Giuliani even admitted on television that the president had asked his team to define the rejection of Muslims in a way that would sound constitutional, and that’s what they did.

Almost all governments in the world issued a condemnation. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, if not millions, flooded the airports and streets in protest. The American acting attorney general issued an order to all legal elements to oppose the executive order (and was immediately fired). Four senior State Department officials resigned, and close to 1,000 State Department employees signed a petition clarifying their objection.

And the Israeli government, led by Netanyahu, is silent.

The American embassy rushed to clarify that Israeli Jews have nothing to worry about, even if they were born in Baghdad or Tripoli, and that satisfied us. The Israeli Arabs can take care of themselves.

It is very tempting to define Netanyahu’s silence in light of the violence, racism and even anti-Semitism of the new administration as an attempt to satisfy Trump with flattery and support to achieve practical goals in the future. A more thorough examination reveals a concerning suspicion that there is more to it than a dirty tactic.

As reported by Ynetnews