Truculent real estate tycoon and reality television star turned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shocked the world once again on Wednesday, by dispatching with the long-held US foreign policy canard of adopting a hawkish stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead espousing on his website a policy of neutrality on a seminal issue of deep importance for the progressive wing of the party.
Perhaps political suicide, in light of the fact that the candidate is also well-known for his xenophobic approach toward the Islamic community, pontificating about the dangers of "radical Islam," and calling for a "total and complete ban on Muslims entering the United States," at least, "until we can figure out what the hell is going on," this break from tradition is most certainly to be the next thing the candidate will skewered over.
While it is true that the bombastic billionaire is exceedingly unlikely to win the hearts and minds of the 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States, the break from tradition should, perhaps, be applauded as a sincere attempt at trying to resolve perhaps the greatest diplomatic tragedy in our lifetime, in hopes of bringing peace to one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.
"It’s probably the hardest negotiation there is – great negotiators tried and they failed," Trump states in a video posted under the "issues" section of his campaign website. "It’s just so deep-seeded – the hatred, the level of distrust – but I’m going to give it an awfully good shot."
"I want to remain as neutral as possible because, if you’re not somewhat neutral, the other side is never going to do it," he said. "But just remember, Israel, I love you. We’re going to see if we can get something done. It has to be done for both sides. It cannot continue to be the way it is."
Trump’s posture, initially adopted in March before being discarded for a period based on attacks and political reality, was criticized by opponent Hillary Clinton during a March 21 speech before the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, accusing the Republican of drawing a moral equivalency between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"We need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because everything’s negotiable," said Clinton. "Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable."
Trump’s policy statements may be in keeping with his "America First" slogan, but are unanimously deemed to be ruinous for his electoral fortunes, costing him support of pro-Israel Republicans and Christian Evangelicals alike.
Clinton’s policy is in stark contravention of her brand of being a "champion" for people of all walks of life clearly picking a side as superior even if it means ignoring the suffering of an isolated minority.
The press celebrates Clinton as a brave heroine, while repeatedly pointing out that Trump is a baseless coward who manipulates fear. Maybe, at least on this specific issue, that narrative should be reconsidered.