Chris Matthews Gets Totally Unhinged Over Trump and Jerusalem
This is not the first time that Chris Matthews has gone on a semi-rational tirade. Yet, his recent outburst against President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem could well go down as one of his worst.
Matthews started by fairly stating that Palestinians need some form of real hope in order to pursue peace. He then grimly announced that “deaths are coming now because of this. You can just bet that in the next few weeks we’re going to have hell to pay for this totally erratic decision by this president.”
Of course, everyone involved in this noteworthy decision is aware of the real risk of violence. But the ones who could pay the most dearly — namely, the Israelis — are the most excited about the decision. Perhaps the decision is not “totally erratic” after all?
Matthews then explains that every president since 1948 has realized that “you have to be careful over there.” Talking about his own experience living in Jerusalem years ago, he said, “everything is intricate over there.”
The reality, however, is that only under Israeli control can there be peace, safety and respect for all religions. And Israel has made clear that there will be no change in the status quo with the Temple Mount, which is of paramount concern to the Muslim world. Israel understands the intricacies. That’s why there are not daily, deadly riots throughout the city.
But Matthews was just getting warmed up.
Trump, Moore and the US Embassy in Israel
As the panel discussion continued, he jumped right back in with these astounding words:
Don’t think this isn’t related to Alabama next week. It is related. Because it’s the Christian Evangelicals down there with their crazy ideas about Israel which is, I don’t know, mythical. They don’t understand the situation over there, how tricky it is ethnically and tribally. They don’t care because it’s a religious belief. Trump is playing into that this week you watch him.
But of course! This is all about Alabama. This is Trump’s way of getting Roy Moore into the Senate. How obvious! Why didn’t everyone else see that?
So, Donald Trump makes one of the biggest foreign policy decisions of his presidency — indeed, one of the biggest in several presidencies — and it’s largely a ploy to get out the evangelical vote in Alabama. And he’ll risk upheaval in the Muslim world and beyond to get Moore elected.
Let’s try to follow the logic. Evangelical voters in Alabama will now come out in force and support Judge Moore because… Well, somehow, I’m not getting this.
The truth is that Alabama evangelicals remain excited about Trump himself. To the point that when he campaigned for Luther Strange, many came to the rally saying, “We love you, but we don’t support Strange.” Plus, Trump formally endorsed Moore just a few days ago.
How does announcing the move of our embassy connect with any of this? Are we really supposed to believe that evangelical voters in Alabama will now say, “I wasn’t sure about voting for Moore. But since Trump is moving the embassy, he has proven to be a real friend of Israel. That means I should take his endorsement of Moore more seriously”? Hogwash.
Moving the Embassy Makes Logical Sense
Matthews has nothing but scorn for evangelical support of Israel, calling it “mythical” He says we have “crazy ideas about Israel,” and “don’t understand the situation over there, how tricky it is ethnically and tribally.”
There are plenty of pragmatic reasons why Trump’s decision is both right and righteous — as other, non-evangelical commentators have noted.
To be sure, we do believe there are strong spiritual reasons to support the Trump’s decision. And I can understand that to Matthews, those reasons seem “crazy.” But we are quite aware of the intricacies and challenges involved with both recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating our embassy. What’s more, there are plenty of pragmatic reasons why Trump’s decision is both right and righteous — as other, non-evangelical commentators have noted.
As summed up by the editors of the National Review, the president’s decision “is not a radical position. It has been the consensus in the United States for more than two decades, despite a lamentable tradition of presidential waivers deferring action on the matter. …
The move both corrects an error of American policy and signifies our respect for Israeli sovereignty. Diplomatic tradition allows sovereign states to name their capitals, and Israel has named Jerusalem as its own. We understand the prudential concerns that have prevented prior administrations from taking this formal step, but it shouldn’t be in dispute that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and the forces that vociferously deny it tend to oppose the very existence of the Jewish state.
The editors also note that, “We shouldn’t let the irrationality of the Palestinians dictate our policy.” They continue,
The charge that this move will derail the peace process is similarly unfounded. Right now, the fact is that there is no peace process worthy of the name. Regardless, there is no conceivable peace agreement between Israel and Palestine that wouldn’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Achieving a Lasting Peace
This is not rocket science (sorry, Chris Matthews). Recognizing the status of Jerusalem is really the only viable way to achieve lasting peace.
Acknowledge the realities on the ground. Recognize the sovereignty of Israel (rather than trying to wipe them off the map). And work together in partnership for the common good.
Despite Matthews’s claims, it’s clear that a decision like this was not made overnight (there goes the Moore theory). And it was not made without consulting the other key players in the region.
How things will play out remains to be seen, but this much is sure: Mr. Matthews is as far off the mark as Alabama is from Jerusalem.