11/10/2016 Israeli Reaction to the Trump Victory

There are many parallels between Israel and the United States one of those parallels has been visible in the last 24 hours as the results of the US elections became known. In the same way the elections Donald Trump to the presidency has been met with surprise and sorrow on in New York and San Francisco while being hailed as a great moment in much of mid west and the south, in Israel in Tel Aviv the disappointment and surprise are palpable while in the much of the rest of the country the joy is apparent. In many ways this could have been anticipated from the pre election surveys which showed the supporters of the left of center Zionist Union (clustered in the Tel Aviv area) supported Clinton by overwhelming majorities, while the supporters of the right of center Likud and Bayit Hayehudi supported Trump.

Nothing better illustrated that divide than when a friend showed me the Whats UP feed of his relatives who are right of center voters many of whom live in the West Bank and those of his partner whose relatives live in Tel Aviv and the environs. His feed was full of happy people congratulating themselves that Clinton lost- there would be no continuation of the “evil” Obama administration who many of them consider a hater of Israel. The Tel Aviv feed was full of people shocked that the American people could elect someone like Trump. A woman who I was having a conversation with this morning about the elections could not hold back her tears when talking about what the election meant for women. The residents of Global Tel Aviv could not understand how America could elect Trump, while the residents of interior Israel were gleeful that now there would be a President that would allow more settlements to be built in the West Bank, and would finally move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

These individual reactions were mirrored in the actions of official Israel. Minister of Education Naftali Bennet head of Bayit Hayehudi, hailed the elections of Trump saying this will finally put to an end the idea of a Palestinian state. The Knesset Lobby to Strengthen the settlement of the West Bank met yesterday to discuss the great opportunities that the Trump presidency presents to the settlement movement. Even the Ultra Religious used the opportunity of a Trump victory to attack rival streams of Judaism, with Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri, thanking god for the Trump victory saying it was a mortal blow to the Reform movement.

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to President elect Trump last night and received and invitation to visit the White House as soon as it can be arranged. For those in Israel who saw the US administration as the last breaks on what they consider the dangerous settlement policy of the government, the election of Donald Trump to be President is considered a disaster, for the exact same reasons those on the right are gleeful with the prospect of a Trump administration. The statement this morning by Trump advisor Jason Greenblatt the Trump “does not view the settlements as an obstacle to peace” certainly strengthened that view.

Other observers looking forward to the new adminstratoin voiced other concerns. First how would an administration with little or no experience handle the complex affairs of the Middle East. Second there is concern that the isolationist tone that President elect Trump sounded during the campaign might not be in Israel’s interests.

Israelis like people worldwide have no better insight into the future actions of the soon to be inaugurated Trump administration and will have to wait with everyone else to see what develops