Bill Maher is perhaps U.S. President Donald Trump’s fiercest critic in the media. But as his HBO Real Time show came back from hiatus, he admitted that he agreed with Trump on one important foreign policy issue.
Maher acknowledged that he approved of the president’s decision last month to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in so doing, authorizing the transfer of the U.S. embassy to that holy city from Tel Aviv.
Since 1950, Jerusalem has served as home of the Israeli parliament, its prime minister and president, and most government agencies in the Jewish state. The international community only recognizes Israel’s authority over west Jerusalem, however. The Palestinians consider east Jerusalem the future capital of a Palestinian state.
U.S. presidents starting with Bill Clinton promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but Trump is the first commander-in-chief to actually follow through. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 passed by Congress required the U.S. embassy to be established in Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. The law also allowed, however, a president to sign a waiver every six months that postpones the move if required to protect national security. Those waivers have been signed at six-month intervals ever since the law went into effect.
Arab leaders and most of the world community opposed the change of address, symbolic or otherwise, out of concerns that it will inflame tensions in the region, but President Trump is forging his own foreign policy that runs counter to conventional diplomacy, such as pulling out of the Paris Climate Change agreement, renegotiating international trade agreements, and possibly cancelling the Iran nuclear deal. Through Ambassador Nikki Haley, the Trump administration has also pushed back against anti-Israel measures at the United Nations. Israel is the only functioning multicultural, multi-faith democracy in the Middle East.
While President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu were often at loggerheads, Trump enjoys a close relationship with the Israeli premier, and they met for a sit-down at the Davos, Switzerland, economic conference this past week.
Reacting to Trump’s decision, Bill Maher had this to say on last night’s edition of his show, which seemed to shock his audience and perhaps two of the three panelists sitting next to him, Real Clear Politics reported.
“[Trump] said that Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like any other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. I hate to agree with Donald Trump, but it doesn’t happen often, but I do. I don’t know why Israel — it has been their capital since 1949. It is where their government is. They’ve won all the wars thrown against them. I don’t understand why they don’t get to have their capital where they want.”
Maher asserted that “what is making a two-state solution impossible is the ‘perpetually hostile,’ ‘coiled snake’ that is Palestinian leadership,” Real Clear Politics added, noting that Maher mentioned the Gaza give-back and the terrorism that followed as an example.
One of the panelists, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who disagreed with Trump’s decision, seemed to be unaware that when a territorial conflict erupts around the world, the winner often winds up with the land. “They were attacked more than once, and they took land in those wars that they won, and there has been peace offers on the table ever since to give part of that land back,” Maher said about Israel.
The columnist suggested that Maher pay a visit to the disputed West Bank to get a better sense about the facts on the ground.
Liberal Twitter, including many of those among his otherwise loyal audience, has reacted very negatively toward Bill Maher’s remarks about Trump and Israel, accusing him of being ignorant (or using far stronger terms) about the history of the region and putting out false information.
Parenthetically, self-described socialist Roseanne Barr, the star of Roseanne and the Roseanne reboot, changed her tune about Israel because of what she alleges is the left’s criticism of Israel operating as a pretext for anti-Semitism.
According to the ArabIsraeliConflict.info website, Jews have lived in Israel continuously for more than 3,000 years.
President Trump has indicated that he may withhold the millions of dollars of support that the U.S. provides the Palestinian Authority unless it resumes peace negotiations with Israel, Fox News reported.
According to the Times of Israel, a senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official warned that a U.S. aid cutoff could result in the starvation of Palestinian children in refugee camps. Middle East Monitor reports that the Palestinian Authority nonetheless supposedly just purchased a private jet with a $50 million price tag for President Mahmoud Abbas.
Watch Bill Maher discuss President Trump’s decision about Jerusalem in the clip below.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) January 27, 2018