It’s not a scoop to say that Donald Trump’s opinions about individuals, including whether to support or denigrate them, are based almost entirely on how the individuals in question have treated Donald Trump. Nor is it a scoop to say that Trump’s view of how individuals have treated him is based these days almost entirely on whether they embrace his unsupported claim that he won the 2020 election.
Benjamin Netanyahu is the latest victim of this manifestation of Trump’s narcissism. In an interview with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, the former U.S. president lashed out at the former Israeli prime minister, who is also his former pal. According to Ravid, Trump told him:
Nobody did more for Bibi. And I liked Bibi. I still like Bibi. But I also like loyalty. The first person to congratulate Biden was Bibi. And not only did he congratulate him, he did it on tape. And it was on tape.
I’ll tell you what – had I not come along I think Israel was going to be destroyed. Okay. You want to know the truth? I think Israel would have been destroyed maybe by now. And the first person that congratulated Joe Biden, because this was an election in dispute, it’s still in dispute. The first person that congratulated was Bibi Netanyahu, the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with…Bibi could have stayed quiet. He has made a terrible mistake.
Early, okay? Let’s use this. He was very early. Like earlier than most. I haven’t spoken to him since. F*** him.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the fact that Netanyahu was not the first foreign leader to congratulate Joe Biden. Among the foreign leaders who congratulated Biden before Netanyahu did are Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, India’s Narendra Modi, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga,
F*** all of them too, I guess.
Second, the notion that Israel would have been destroyed but for Donald Trump is delusional. Pre-Trump, Israel survived the best efforts of its enemies to destroy it for almost 70 years. It would have survived for four more without Trump. It will even survive Joe Biden.
Who was going to destroy Israel, absent Trump? No one. No enemy had the capacity to, and by the time Trump came along Israel had fewer enemies than ever before because important powers previously hostile to the Jewish state now regarded Iran as a serious threat and Israel as a counter-balance.
Trump deserves credit for leveraging that sentiment into deals between Israel and some of its former enemies. But let’s pretend that Trump saved Israel from destruction. That claim makes his assertion that he won the 2020 presidential claim seem reasonable.
Third, Netanyahu had good reason to congratulate Biden. The former VP was about to become the president of Israel’s most important ally. Netanyahu knew he would have to deal with Biden. Only Trump among politicians of any note thought that Biden might not take office in January 2021.
As Netanyahu said when told of Trump’s ridiculous statements to Ravid:
I highly appreciate President Trump’s big contribution to Israel and its security. I also appreciate the importance of the strong alliance between Israel and the U.S. and therefore it was important for me to congratulate the incoming President.
Trump didn’t stop with his condemnation of Netanyahu. He also praised Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority — an entity that would gladly destroy Israel if it could.
According to Trump, Abbas wanted to make a peace deal and Netanyahu did not. This may be true at some level. Certainly, there is a “peace” deal of some sort that Abbas would like to make and Netanyahu would not.
But what sort of a deal? To a competent, rational world leader, that question matters. I’m not sure it did to Trump. Maybe he just wanted a deal, any deal, so he could boast of being the man who finally brokered a Middle East “peace” deal.
In any case, Trump’s discussion of Abbas is over-the-top. He says:
I will be honest, I had a great meeting with him, Abbas, right. I had a great meeting with him. And we spent a lot of time together, talking about many things.
And it was almost like a father. I mean, he was so nice, couldn’t have been nicer.
Is it possible that Trump really views Abbas with this much naivety? Is Trump really this big a sucker? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and attribute the father-son pabulum to his desire to make Netanyahu look like the bad guy as retaliation for congratulating Joe Biden.
Trump also said:
I thought the Palestinians were impossible and that the Israelis would do anything to make peace and a deal. I found that not to be true.
Did Trump really believe that the Israelis under Netanyahu (or any other prime minister) would do anything to make a deal? If so, this betrays a frightening ignorance.
And if Trump misread Israel and Netanyahu this badly, what/who else did he misread?
North Korea? Did Trump think Kim Jong-un was desperate to make a deal with him? It didn’t turn out that way.
Iran? Did Trump believe the mullahs were desperate to make a deal? Quite possibly. This would explain why Trump blew up the Iran nuclear deal with no apparent alternative strategy for slowing Iran’s march to becoming a nuclear power other than the non-existent desire to make a deal with Trump.
We already knew that Trump was incorrigibly narcissistic. His interview with Ravid suggests that he’s also something of a fool.