Sputnik discussed Trump's comments with David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University.
Sputnik: What's your take on Donald Trump's words that the Democratic Party has become anti-Jewish and that the party's members have allowed anti-Semitism to take root among them?
David Schultz: I think we have to think the context of the speech that Donald Trump was giving, in terms of trying to peel away some of the Jewish voters from the Democratic Party in anticipation of the 2020 election, that's, I think, the primary thing we should be thinking right now. Now is there legitimate reason to criticize Israel, and I think this is what Ilhan Omar is trying to raise, is the question of saying that: "Listen, Israel itself may not necessarily be pursuing policies that are fair to the Palestinians and that some of the US foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians may be unduly influenced, by, let us say, some pro-Israeli interest group," but that's a very different point than saying that the Democrat party is anti-Semitic, and Donald Trump is trying to exploit, I think, that legitimate criticism of Israel and US foreign policy towards Israel as an effort to turn some Jews away from the Democratic Party.
Sputnik: So do you think the work that has been done by the Trump administration in the Middle East will have a huge impact on the outcome of Israeli Knesset election? What's your thoughts on that then?
David Schultz: The Trump administration is really not doing very much at this point in terms of trying to pursue a two-state solution or a homeland solution for the Palestinians, and in many ways the Trump administration and Netanyahu seem to have turned their back completely on any type of sovereignty or any type of fair solution for the Palestinians. So, if anything, one can make a couple of arguments saying that, "Yes, the Trump administration is pursuing a very pro-Israeli policy, but it is a pro-Israeli policy that favors the current Israeli government which, again, is supporting programmes that are inconsistent with what I think most of the world, including the Russian Federation, believes which is the idea that the Palestinians are entitled to their own homeland and their own state."
Sputnik: The Israeli prime minister said during an interview on Sunday that "a Palestinian state will not be created, not like the one people are talking about, it won't happen," he asserted. What do you make of his statement as such?
David Schultz: Again, also the current PM in Israel is facing a very tough re-election and he's also pandering to ultranationalist and ultra-orthodox views within his own country in terms of saying, "We are not going to do a two state solution." Think about recently how he's also said that he would probably formally say that the East Bank is part of Jerusalem and Donald Trump has recently recognised Israel's right to the Golan Heights. But the broader point that I'm getting out here right now is we ought to be looking at how the US president and current Israeli government are pursuing, again what I'm going to say, A) very nationalistic policies that are supporting the current government in Israel, and B) which don't necessarily reflect I think the ideology or views of the Jews, either in the United States or within Israel.
Sputnik: We know that this Israeli government of Netanyahu holds a lot of sway with the US administration under President Trump. Donald Trump whilst addressing the conference of the Republican Jewish coalition on Saturday said: "I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights." In your view why did he referred to Mr Netanyahu in that way? Is there something deeper then we're talking about here?
David Schultz: I don't think there's anything deeper really in the sense that I think again Donald Trump perceives an opportunity, perceives an opportunity to try to move over so more voters from the Democratic side who are Jewish over to the Republican side, and there's a small but vocal, as we saw here, Republican Jewish coalition that he's working with to try to do that. Again, whether that constitutes A) significant population is debatable and B) whether there is a real opening to move many Democrats who are Jewish over to our the Republican side also questionable, but comments like Ilhan Omar's give the president of United States some opportunity to be able to at least question the Democratic Party's support for Israel, again, giving him an opportunity to at least try to move some voters over to him.
Sputnik: Donald Trump also said that if the Middle East peace plan secretly negotiated by Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, fails nobody will ever be able to achieve peace in the Middle East, that's a very serious statement to be made. What's your point of view on that?
David Schultz: First of all I'm not sure how much Jared Kushner has actually been taken seriously in the Mideast in terms of being able to negotiate some kind of broader peace plan. Second is that the framework that we had at one point, the Oslo Accords, the idea of moving towards a two-state solution in Israel seem to be a framework that was working for a while that the Trump administration and the current Israeli government moved away from. I think going forward any type of viable solution with Israel and the Palestinians will have to include something that looks like a real two-state solution, it has to involve not just the United States, Israel and the Palestinians, but clearly the Russian Federation, Syria, a variety of groups need to be involved in terms of a multinational dialogue for doing something, because solving the Israeli-Palestinian issue is not just an issue between Palestine and Israel, but it's really a regional matter. So again, my kind of long winded answer is: I'm not sure Kushner has really done anything that really has had the ear of all the relevant parties to be considered indeed. I do think a solution is possible but we've just walked away from it in the last few years in terms of what to do.
Sputnik: The Jewish Democratic Council of America denounced Donald Trump's speech that he delivered before the Republican Jewish coalition as lies and fantasies, saying the policy between the US and Israel should be bipartisan and not pivot parties against one another. This has been the case along with this Democratic and Republican phase of history in this administration. Where can this kind of disagreement between Republican and Democrat Jews lead the US political establishment now? What's your feeling with regard to that, it's very divisive as well, isn't it?
David Schultz: It's very divisive, but I think the first has been true that for many, many years it has been bipartisan support, Republicans and Democrats and the state of Israel. I think the problem that we're seeing now within the United States is that there are many who are saying that singular support of Israel without also support for the Palestinians, the rights of Palestinians, is not a tenable US foreign policy and it is not a tenable way of achieving peace in the Mideast. What really needs to occur is the move towards a bipartisan consensus that recognises that as a policy objective, and again, we seem to have had that a generation ago in the United States over the Oslo Accords, but we have moved away from that. So the same way we are polarised on just about everything else, we are polarised on Israeli policy now. And again, to sort of come back to the theme of this interview, the Trump administration is trying to exploit that polarization for election purposes in 2020.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.