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May 10, 2020 2:46 pm

Pipes Warns of Trump ‘Fury’ if Israel Annexes West Bank Land

avatar by Ira Stoll


US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs for Baltimore, Maryland, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, Sept. 12, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque.

A New York Times op-ed warning that “President Trump could well erupt in fury at Israel” if Israel unilaterally annexes West Bank land is being greeted with skepticism in some quarters.

The op-ed piece is by Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum. It appears online under the headline “Annexing the West Bank Would Hurt Israel.”

The article offers six reasons why that is so. The first of them is the warning about inviting Trump’s “monumental displeasure.”

The article also warns that “annexation would most likely lead to Palestinian fury that could well destabilize Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.”

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A professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, Eugene Kontorovich, said Pipes “makes the same scare-mongering points about destabilizing ME & pissing off Arab states as many made about Golan & Jerusalem. Wrong then, more wrong now.”

A news release from the Zionist Organization of America described Pipes as a “relentless ‘Never-Trumper.’”

“Five (out of six) of Pipes’ anti-‘annexation’ arguments simply consist of Pipes’ speculation that: ‘Annexation will make some people angry,’” the ZOA release said. “Every time Israel speaks about defending herself or protecting or asserting her rights, the left raises the same specter: ‘Some people will get mad.’ For instance, there were all sorts of doomsday predictions before the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem. The move went ahead anyway, and the predictions of the move causing uncontrollable Mideast-wide conflagrations were proven wrong.”

The ZOA release says Trump likely “understands that Israel must act now to exercise her sovereignty, in case he is defeated in November and a possibly unfriendly administration is elected.”

I emailed Pipes to ask him how he’d respond “to those who are skeptical that Trump would pre-election get mad at Netanyahu in the way you warn he would. Wouldn’t that be all downside with conservative Christian and Jewish voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, that he needs to win re-election?”

Pipes responded, telling the Algemeiner, “While an instinctive political animal of the first order (as Paul Ryan noted, Trump  ‘heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard’) he also uses people and causes, discarding them if they irritate him or he no longer needs them. Surely, he could turn on Israel; and his fans who turn on it with him. Don’t they have more allegiance to him than to any cause?”

The editorial page editor of the Times, James Bennet, promoted the Pipes article in the Times “Opinion Today” newsletter.

“The piece is by Daniel Pipes, a right-wing, pro-Israel analyst. Pipes has taken what I consider to be some extreme positions over the years, but he’s an expert on Israel — and given his point of view I think it’s significant that in his essay he vehemently opposes annexation. He’s come up with six reasons it’s against Israel’s own interest,” Bennet wrote. “See what you think. To me, among the most persuasive of the concerns he lists is that annexation would ‘alienate and weaken Israel’s diminishing number of friends in the Democratic Party.’”

The Pipes article also drew unfounded criticism from the extreme left, with one advocate insisting bizarrely and without any evidence at all that opposing annexation somehow demonstrated that Pipes was “racist.”

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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