News Release

Shock at Trump’s Putin Treatment, But Netanyahu Gets a Pass

JUAN COLE, jrcole at umich.edu, @jricole
Available for a limited number of interviews, Cole is an author, a blogger and a professor at the University of Michigan. He just published the piece “D.C. Elites Shocked at Trump’s Bromance with Putin but Give Israel’s Netanyahu a Pass.

He writes: “The inside-the-beltway crowd was absolutely outraged and appalled by Trump’s performance at Helsinki. There, Trump violated all the principles of American hawkishness. …

“While Putin’s behavior has been objectionable, there is something profoundly hypocritical about the U.S. elite pretending that the U.S. doesn’t embrace people like Putin all the time.

“Take Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He is guilty of most of the same infractions held against Putin. Netanyahu openly campaigned for the Republican candidates in 2012 and 2016. He openly interfered in U.S. politics by insisting on addressing Congress to derail the Iran nuclear deal (a quest in which he ultimately succeeded, putting the U.S. closer to war footing with Iran).

“In fact, Netanyahu was one of those foreign influencers pushing Trump to do a ‘grand bargain’ with … Vladimir Putin. The Israeli leader allegedly pushed for lifting of U.S. sanctions on Putin and his circle in return for Putin pushing Iran out of Syria. …

“Netanyahu runs spy rings against the United States far more aggressive and extensive than those of European countries, the seriousness of which Congressional staffers have found ‘sobering.’

“Netanyahu is in the process of annexing the Palestinian West Bank, to which he has much less claim in international law than Putin does to the Crimea. (The Soviet Union assigned Crimea to Ukraine only in the 1950s, when the latter was a Soviet socialist republic, but Russian possession of it went back to the eighteenth century.) Netanyahu is presiding over an Apartheid state in which 4.5 million of the 12.5 million people controlled by the Israeli government are stateless and besieged or patrolled by the Israeli military.

“Netanyahu has even had people poisoned.

“So in Trump’s fanboy performance with Putin in Helsinki, Trump waxed lyrical about how close the U.S. is to Israel, and did opine that Iran needed to leave Syria. Nobody in D.C. is complaining about that piece of sycophancy.

“In Washington, it is all right to slam Trump for treason (it isn’t really treason since the U.S. isn’t at war with the Russian Federation) or for making nice with Putin despite the latter’s various misdeeds. But it is political death to criticize Netanyahu’s interference in American foreign policy or aggressive Israeli land theft or Israel setting the U.S. up for conflict with Iran.

“But there is no domestic Russia lobby, so it is all right to slam Putin.”