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Will Narcissist Trump’s Bizarre Praise for Hezbollah Hurt Him?
Plus: Why he attacked his former ally and admirer Netanyahu.
DONALD TRUMP HAS DEMONSTRATED YET AGAIN that he is a man without a single ounce of human decency. At an event in West Palm Beach on Wednesday night, just four days after Hamas’s brutal attack on Israeli civilians, Trump did the unthinkable.
Not only did he fail to recognize the horror of Hamas’s war crimes, something that even staunch critics of Israel’s treatment of civilians in Gaza have done. Trump actually went out of his way to praise Hezbollah, Hamas’s Jordan-based military counterpart: “You know, Hezbollah is very smart,” Trump said. “They’re all very smart.”
That bizarre praise came the same day that Hezbollah launched a barrage of rocket attacks on Israel from the north, hinting that Hamas’s fellow Iranian-backed terrorist organization would open a second front in the war as Israel attacks Hamas in Gaza.
The Israeli government’s communications minister, Shlomo Karhi, called Trump’s comments “shameful.”
Trump also took the opportunity to blast Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—not over Netanyahu’s autocratic attempt to remake the Israeli judiciary in his own image, which divided the country and arguably made it vulnerable to attack. Rather it was for something completely unrelated and unsubstantiated.
Trump bizarrely claimed that in January 2020, Netanyahu, at the eleventh hour, abruptly backed out of the U.S. operation to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
“We did it,” Trump said, “but I’ll never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down. That was a very terrible thing.”
You might recall that Netanyahu used to lavish Trump with praise, not only calling him “a true friend” of Israel but “the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House,” a fulsome description Trump relished repeating. Netanyahu even went so far as to name a settlement “Trump Heights” in 2019—a name that’s still in place even after Trump’s two impeachments, four indictments, and attempt to overthrow the 2020 election.
So why would Trump choose this moment, after a horrific terrorist attack, to make a charge relating to a three-year old event, kicking his onetime ally, Netanyahu, while he is down? It’s no mystery: Netanyahu praised Joe Biden on Tuesday for his strong support for Israel.
Praise for President Biden is not something that Trump’s narcissistic ego can tolerate. So Trump, the would-be emperor, struck back.
WILL TRUMP PAY A POLITICAL PRICE for his remarks? No doubt we’ll be seeing 30-second ads from the Biden campaign and pro-Biden PACs replaying the clip of Trump expressing admiration for Hezbollah.
But the potential harm to Trump goes beyond that. His remarks may create something of a rift between segments of his supporters. Praise for Hezbollah and criticism of Netanyahu might appeal to the antisemitic faction of his base, but a larger segment, the evangelical Christians who love Israel, will likely find his remarks offensive.
Yet Trump can’t help himself when it comes to seeking vengeance against the friends of his enemy, President Biden.
And what about the voters who can swing general elections—independents? They are not members of the Trump cult willing to suppress their own empathy for victims of murder. Trump’s remarks might cost him support among voters unwilling to back a presidential candidate devoid of human decency.
Ordinary Americans’ repulsion at Trump’s indecency may well be part of what saves American democracy from him.