Trump’s Foreign Policy Team: A disaster for human and civil rights in Israel/Palestine & around the world
December 13, 2016–With the announcement of Rex Tillerson as President-Elect Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, Jewish Voice for Peace offers the following commentary on several foreign policy appointees who will impact our work towards a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis:
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson
The appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is a sign that we are entering a new and disturbing era of corporate domination of diplomacy, where foreign relations will be governed by corporate bottom lines rather than norms of international law and human rights. While Tillerson’s approach to Israel/Palestine is relatively unknown, it is clear that Tillerson’s record indicates that he will be extremely destructive to the future of the planet and to human rights around the world.
Tillerson’s approach to the world is fundamentally at odds with ours. His priority is cozying up to dictators in order to get access to oil, rather than holding political leaders and corporations accountable for human rights abuses. He views sanctions as an impediment to business, rather than as a diplomatic tactic. With Tillerson at the helm of the State Department, corporate accountability campaigns, including the tactics of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement will be more important than ever.
Deputy Secretary of State: John Bolton
It has been reported that President-elect Trump is strongly considering John Bolton for the role of second-in-command at the State Department. John Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador and State Department official under the Bush administration, is a pro-war hawk whose record is actively hostile to the idea of diplomacy itself. As a top State Department official, Bolton played an important role in pushing towards war in Iraq, promoting false claims about weapons of mass destruction. Bolton has also been a loud voice calling for war with Iran, writing in the New York Times to encourage bombing Iran as recently as August 2015.
With regards to Israel/Palestine, Bolton thinks the two-state solution is a dead end. Instead, he recently told the Jewish Insider his solution is a “three-state solution” giving Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan with no regard at all for Palestinian political and civil rights. Bolton opposes any action at the United Nations to put pressure on Israel, and has even encouraged defunding the UN over support for Palestinian rights. He has also encouraged Israel to pursue preemptive strikes against Iran.
The Senate blocked Bolton’s confirmation as United Nations Ambassador previously out of concern over his antagonism towards the United Nations and lack of respect for human rights. With his record as a neoconservative war hawk, Bolton is the last person who should be in charge of US diplomacy.
National Security Adviser: Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn
Dozens of anti-war organizations have come out in opposition to the appointment of Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is expected to take hard line towards U.S. security at the expense of human and civil rights, as National Security Adviser. Flynn is known for promoting extremely harmful anti-Islam rhetoric and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. He has written that “fear of Muslims is rational” and said that “Islam is a political ideology” and “a cancer” that “hides behind being a religion,” and promotes false and bigoted fears of “Shariah law” spreading in the United States.
Flynn opposes putting any effort into the Israel/Palestine peace process, and places all blame for the conflict on Palestinian violence rather than Israeli occupation, displacement and discrimination. Flynn’s anti-Muslim bigotry and his disregard for Palestinian rights go hand in hand, and make him an extremely dangerous choice for national security adviser for those who care about the safety and security of all peoples, in the U.S. and in Israel/Palestine.
Defense Secretary: Ret. Gen. James Mattis
While Defense Secretary pick Ret. Gen James Mattis has been candid about the reality in Israel/Palestine, he also has a reputation of being candidly racist, misogynistic and Islamophobic. Mattis has warned accurately that without ending the occupation and continuing to deny rights for Palestinians, Israel risks becoming an apartheid state. Another Iran hawk, the choice of Mattis as Defense Secretary is another indication that the Trump administration will seek to undermine diplomacy.
In short, the foreign policy team taking shape for the Trump Administration is one that will wreak havoc around the world, including in Israel/Palestine. We call on the U.S. Senate to reject these dangerous appointments.