Never Accept Any of This as Normal

Condemnations of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees came from multiple corners. The Anti-Defamation League stated: 

These refugees are fleeing horrifying terror and unimaginable violence. To shut the door on them not only makes little sense, but it is cruel and contrary to the values of our country - a nation founded by refugees fleeing religious persecution and strengthened by waves of immigrants. More than most, our community knows what happens when the doors to freedom are shut.

Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk tweeted "Israel takes in 100 Syrian orphans on same day as US bans Syrian refugees. As a Jew, I'm proud. As an American I'm ashamed." Me too.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said that Trump's executive order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his promises to limit refugee entry made Wednesday "one of the most hateful days in our nation's history." A Twitter account commemorates some of the Jewish Holocaust victims who could have been saved if the U.S. did not turn them away.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump said that we should prioritize Christian refugees. He ordered that Christians be given priority over Muslims, and he banned refugees from Syria and several other predominately Muslim countries. Anyone who wonders why the U.S. closed its borders to Jews during World War II and is not outraged by Trump's actions on Friday need only look into the mirror to understand why. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) called Trump's actions "disgraceful and callous."

Did you notice what was missing from Trump's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement? Trump, who has never visited Israel, omitted any reference to Jews or anti-Semitism. Compare Trump's statement to President Barack Obama's, exactly one year before. As if it even needs to be explained, Yair Rosenberg explains why it's bad to omit Jews from Holocaust memorial statements. Trump's omission of Jews was intentional and based false information.

 

Maybe Trump's promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem wasn't meant to be taken literally. Previous presidents have broken their promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and for good reason. Michael Koplow believes that Trump is reneging on his promise because of pressure from our Sunni allies in the Arab world and because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who understands the risks better than most, "gave his implicit okay for the embassy to stay where it is."

Aaron David Miller writes that far from putting America first, moving the embassy to Jerusalem would put America's interests last.

Isn't it amazing that the same Republicans who lambasted President Obama for not moving the embassy (even though Obama was one of the presidents who never promised to move it) are now cutting Trump so much slack? Too bad so many pro-Israel groups are so afraid of their donors that they won't call moving the embassy what it is: a bad idea.

As one of his final acts as president, Obama released $221 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. The funding had been approved by Congress but was put on hold by some congressional Republicans. The AP reported that "Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated." President Obama waited as long as he could before releasing the money, and he was right to do it.

Netanyhau and AIPAC have not been shy about criticizing the Obama administration, but neither criticized the release of this aid to the Palestinians. They understand, as Israel's Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, recently said, that "A stable Palestinian Authority economy is in Israel's interests economically, politically, and in terms of security."

That's why AIPAC does not lobby against aid to the Palestinians, and that's why Israel itself provides aid to the Palestinians. That's also why Michael Koplow tweeted that "If you think releasing this $ is anti-Israel, chances are you've never spoken to a senior Israeli security official."

This was one of many last-minute foreign aid allocations made by the Obama administration. The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration is reviewing them, but "Unless the review turns up any instances where protocol was not strictly followed, it is unlikely that any adjustments can be made, even if the aid does not mesh with the emerging policies of the Trump administration." That's good.

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