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Risky politics: Bibi flatters pit bull Trump




Trump expresses admiration for Israel, bemoaning its “unfair” treatment in the conflict with the Palestinians. He will discover the conflict is infinitely more complex than he imagines and cannot be solved with his famous simplistic bombast.

He is referred to as the great deal-maker in entertainment and hotels, without political experience. But he resembles an unpredictable pit bull begging the question: Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?

How will he react if the parties refuse his deal-making? The Middle East is not a hotel. When he comes up against the unceasing incitements from both sides – Palestinian terrorism and Israel’s settlement construction on Palestinian land – will he remain Netanyahu’s “friend”?

Trump’s election typifies the rise of nationalistic right-wing leaders worldwide with xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes – although Trump has a Jewish son-in-law and would be outraged to be called anti-Semitic. His bellicose use of the “America first” slogan evokes memories of other populist leaders in history who pounded the table with such refrains while leading their countries to ruin.

The Anti-Defamation League pressed Trump last year to drop the slogan because of its tainted legacy from the America First Committee, the isolationist movement created in 1940 after Hitler invaded Poland which urged neutrality towards Nazi Germany, because it didn’t threaten America directly.

One openly anti-Semitic leader, aviator Charles Lindbergh, said Jews were a threat because of their control of the media, and that he was backed by a silent majority of Americans denied voice by a hostile press. Trump, however, ignored the ADL plea.

At the over 500 000-strong anti-Trump women’s march in Washington last Saturday – part of two million demonstrators countrywide reported by AFP and CNN – a keynote speaker was Gloria Steinem, a founder of the 1960s feminist movement and daughter of a Jewish man whose family were immigrants from Germany and Poland.

She challenged Trump’s assertion that he represents “the people” of America, saying: “I have met the people and you are not them!”

The Jewish world – as with broader society – is deeply split on Trump. Many conservative Jews in the United States and Israel back him, particularly in the Orthodox segment, hoping he will strengthen the Israeli right. His ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is an Orthodox Jew on the far right of Israel’s political spectrum who opposes the two-state solution and strongly supports the settlement movement.

How will Trump react if anti-Semitism continues rising in the United States? Will he censure its perpetrators when many – the nationalists who hail “America first!” – will probably be people who voted for him? Will his recent nasty comments on the media’s negative coverage of him eventually translate into the old slogan that “the Jews control the media”? 

Netanyahu did nothing diplomatically incorrect in congratulating Trump on his inauguration. It is normal diplomatic protocol. But his message’s obvious warmth was jarring to millions who believe Trump is a potential fascist.

Some argue Netanyahu is simply playing realpolitik and sees in Trump the opportunity to strengthen Israel. But many Jews are asking: Does Israel not endorse the humanistic values which two million women marched for on Saturday in defiance of Trump?

Nobody knows if Netanyahu’s warm words towards Trump will help the Israeli Prime Minister’s cause. They may return to haunt him when the pit bull turns vicious.


Read Geoff Sifrin’s regular columns on his blog

Continue Reading


  1. Choni

    Jan 26, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    ‘Wrong again Sifrin. 83% of Israelis prefer Trump.The remainder of Jewry is irrelevant. Netenyahu speaks for Israel not the Diaspora.’

  2. nat cheiman

    Jan 26, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    ‘Your commentary is callow and filled with claptrap. Netanyahu’s message to Trump was not cringeworthy. Trump is right wing and if some of his followers are anti Semitic, so be it. Thats the way the biscuit breaks. He has pulled back Obama’s funding $221 million. He has not criticised Israels 3000 houses to be built.
    \n He is against Hamas, terrorism, Isis, and much of Islam ( \”until we find out what the hell is going on \”.) Trumps America first slogan is not populist. Unlike Merkel and and other Europeans that have allowed migrants into their countries, Trump wants to look after his own people first. To compare Trump with Hitler and/or Lindbergh, is so imprecise as to be ignorant of world affairs as they stand now.
    \nObama and Clinton are off the radar insofar as their intentions are/were concerned about Israel.
    \nObviously, Netanyahu spots a gap and is making hay while the sun shines. The embassy will be moved to Jerusalem. Houses will be built in Judea and Sumaria. Hamas will be severely dealt with. There will be no 2 state solution. Most importantly, there will be no voting for UN resolutions against Israel. No surprises from the USA. The biggest plus, is that Trump may defund the UN or at least put a leash on it insofar as wastage of US funding is concerned. Trump is 100% supportive of Israel.
    \n In as much as BLM is a destructive organisation, terrorising many Americans, Trump is against this organisation. Indeed so is the KKK and other right wing organisations. They are hardly worse than Rev Wright, Obamas spititual adviser who is a rabid anti Semite. Or Jesse Jackson the Right Reverend Jew hater. Or Al Sharpton the anti Semite who many tears ago started riots in Brooklyn against Jews. Or the Democrat nominee who supports Islam. There are many black Americans at universities who support BDS and \”free palestine\”.
    \n Is it wrong that Trump wants to deport many immigrants that are illegal? Or stop many muslim immigrants from entering the USA \”until we find out what the hell is going on\” ?
    \nNo Mr Sifrin, you are wrong and are symptomatic of what is wrong with many Liberals/ Democrats in the USA, today, including JEWISH AMERICANS. I would rather live in America today, than in any other country, under DONALD J TRUMP. At least if the US is going to survive it will under Trump.
    \nKerry and Obama, manifested the very worst slime of American politics, by trying to harm Israel with their underhanded actions. The 500,000 strong womens march may have been credible if they had marched against womens rights in many Arab and Muslim countries. They should have marched as PRO LIFE CAMPAIGNERS and against abotion. But they marched agains a democratically elected president.
    \nTrump is a \”HIGH ENERGY \”president . When he told Jeb Bush, who was also running, \”Youre a low energy candidate\”, I now know what he means.
    \nTrump has energised the presidency by signing into law every single one of his promises, thus far. 
    \nThe media, including you, Mr Sifrin, continue to attempt to disparage Trump, instead of being fair. CNN is no longer the channel it purported to be because of FAKE NEWS. 
    \nGloria Steiem’s  \”I have met the people and you are not one of them\”is so puerile and vacuous, that it needs no dignity, to reply to it.
    \nNationalism is on the rise brcause people like Merkel, Corbyn, Hollande and Rutte, have no respect for their people.  Israelis are also nationalistic. They want their own country promised to them biblically. There are Islamic countries, more than 50, in the world, that can take Muslim refugees, but many do not. WHY?
    \n Does Israel endorse the humanistic values which 2 million women marched for in defiance of Trump? Israel is one of the most ethical countries in the world and I would be surprised if they don’t endorse PRO LIFE campaigns etc. But does Israel endorse a protest about a leader chosen democratically? I would say not. Many women who protested, Madonna, etc, have no idea how badly off the American worker is. They are detached. THAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH AMERICA.
    \n JEWS that are disgusted with Trump, ought to get a life and smell the roses. Many Democrats are against Israel. We, as Jews have landed with our bums in the butter with Trump.  Whatever happens later with the KKK or other anti Semitic groups can be dealt with later. They have always existed and always will. Trump is a stickler for Law & Order. Isn’t that great?
    \nYou, Mr Sifrin, along with all the \”disgusted\”Jews in America, should be asking about the Popes invitation to Abbas to open a consulate in the Vatican, or Francois Hollandes  promotion of a conference to condemn Israel, or the Swedes or Belgians condemnation of Israel, and the Writ of arrest for Tzipi Livni in Belgium.
    \nInstead, you choose to denigrate Donald Trump, and undervalue his compassion toward Israel, the American workers; his anti abortion stance; his fight against drugs; Islamic radicals etc. Your disdain is outrageous . Your statement \”The Middle East is not a hotel\” is calculated to impugn Trump and is immature.
    \nWhy not wait and see and wish Trump all the success as did Netanyahu?’

  3. Gary Selikow

    Jan 26, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    ‘I am not interested in Geoff Sifrins loony left rantings

    And we are not. And note his reference to ‘  Israel’s settlement construction on Palestinian land ‘

    It’s not Palestinian land – Judea and Samaria belongs to the Jews!’

  4. Mordechai

    Jan 27, 2017 at 4:31 am

    ‘Geoff Sifrin you are clearly a left wing indivdual. It is so sad when President Trump the non Jewish President of the USA, all Republican members of Congress (mainly. if not all Non Jewish) and in main the entire Republican establishment is totally supportive of Israel, and Jews…and understand clearly the dangers Israel faces, and unlike Mr Safrin who are more interested and care more about social issues than the survival of the Jewish State of Israel – how come they get it and  Mr Safrin and other like minded Jews dont. If Clinton (aka Obama’s 3rd term) was President the UN would have placed sanctions on Israel and worse with Clinton support. Israel and the entire Jewish people need to be grateful that President Trump was elected ‘

  5. David B

    Jan 27, 2017 at 4:32 am

    ‘How do we know that a major portion of world Jewry is disgusted by trump ?

    Is it possibly too difficult to differentiate between the naïve American Jewish vote and that of thinking Jewish people who believe that Trump can probably, within the ‘great change\”, be good for the world and Israel , as well as being a catalyst for change to an unworkable and unfair UN.’

  6. Adam

    Jan 27, 2017 at 7:59 am

    ‘As born and bread 3rd-gen Litvak SA Jew I continue to be amazes at the intollerence of our community. On religion, Zionism, and culture. I had hoped thet the large number of Sabra ‘imports’ over the past few years, many of Sephardi origin, would see us becoming more tolerant. Sadly, they keep to themselves and largely donot interact with SA Jewry. If they did, the lasting positive influence would be one of teaching us to be more tolerant of each other and their views’

  7. Choni

    Jan 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

    ‘Last week it was \”west bank’ settlers.
    \nThis week it was \”Palestinian\” land.

    \nMr Editor, Sifrin can have his opinion, but terms above are blatant untruths and should be censored.
    \nChoni: It is your statement, above, that should be censored. It would, if fact, normally be. We are allowing it to illustrate why we are required to censor YOU so often. This sentence is rude, impertinent, bigoted and uncalled for. You are welcome to express YOUR opinion – whenever it is relevant to the topic (and hence not trolling). But you are not allowed to insult other peoples’ opinions. The correct thing to have said, as a mench, would have been: \”In my opinion there is no west bank or Palestinian land.\” How can you expect anyone to respect your opinions when you don’t even respect their right to have an opinion that is different to yours. You need to take your blinkers off and see the difference between Nat, Gary and Mordechai expressing their own opinions and, yes, being openly critical of Geoff’s, and your believing that Geoff does not have the right to have an opinion.   -ED  

    \nThey are violation of our Torah. There is no ‘west bank’ ‘and no ‘Palestinian’ land.
    \nSifrin should no be allowed to distort the Torah.
    \nI fully endorse Nat, Gary and Mordechai.’

  8. Choni

    Jan 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    ‘In my opinion, any opinion…

    \nSorry, Choni, insulting the publication or its writers and editors, does not represent an opinion. The ‘opinion’ which has again been removed – i.e. that nobody has the right to have an opinion that differs from yours – is not an opinion but simply further proof of your bigotry. Bigotry is not Opinion   -Online Ed

  9. Jill Segal, New York

    Feb 3, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    ‘I read this column. I read the comments. Is this the sum total of what your community in South Africa is able to engage with the issue? That a whole bunch of really unsophisticated thinkers and crude bigots get together and form a little hate fest around the columnist’s opinions, unequivocally condemning them as ‘wrong’? It’s rather a sad indictment on your whole community.’

  10. Adam Shain, Jerusalem

    Feb 9, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    ‘Thank Jill. I read Mr. Sifrin’s columns all weeks and I also am amazed at the bigot attemts to silence him You right. It is giving a sad picture of the Jews in Souch Africa’

  11. nat cheiman

    Feb 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

    ‘Jill and Adam. You are entitled to articulate your opinions and they do make interesting reading.

    But I have noticed a tendency among Democrats and liberals that the word \”bigot \”is used loosely and recklessly toward anyone who criticises a liberal or liberal view.

    This is unfair, injudicious and indeed malicious.

    Another word liberals use, to show that conservatives are not clever, is  \” unsophisticated thinking \”. 

    Of course, this is the trait of most pseudo intellectuals who are phoney liberals.

    I as a reader you allude to, object to your words \”hate fest \”and \”crude bigots \”. Because I don’t agree with Mr Sifrin, does not make me a bigot.

    I respect your view although I don’t agree therewith.

    Please show some reverence and tolerance for other peoples views even though they do not accord with your own.

  12. Mervyn

    Mar 2, 2017 at 8:01 am

    ‘I am amazed at the semi literate,puerile and illogical poppycock that your readers write on this website.

    most of them wouldn’t be allowed entrance into University nor Yeshiva for their inability to analyse and debate

  13. nat cheiman

    Mar 3, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    ‘Merv, you may be flabbergasted to know that many of the readers that you impute to be semi literate have long ago advanced through university successfully and that debate is healthy and individual, in that each has its own characteristics.
    \nThe innuendo in your statement purports to elevate you to a position far beyond us, mere mortals.
    \nI’m okay with that, but logic and literacy (that you mention) is relative to the enlightenment of the individual.
    \nWould you feel better if we apologise to you for being obtuse? ‘

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