The basic issue is this: Israel considers Jerusalem to be its capital. Most of the ‘international community’ opposes honoring this, largely because a large hunk of the ‘international community’ doesn’t want to offend unduly the somewhat smaller hunk of the ‘international community’ that wants to murder every Israeli Jew it can reach and drive the rest into the Mediterranean Sea. The US Congress chimed in on this issue in the 1990s by passing the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates that we build well, an embassy in, well, Jerusalem*. In an AIPAC speech last month Donald Trump flip-flopped from a previous position to assure the attendees that he now supported the moving of our embassy to Jerusalem. OK, better late than never, right?
And then Trump hired Paul Manafort. Turns out that in the 1980s Manafort drank deep from the Saudi’s bottomless well of funding: “The promise of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem has been a mainstay of political appeals to the pro-Israel community for many years. But in 1984 Manafort lobbied on behalf of the Saudis against House and Senate legislation that would have pressed the U.S. government to make this move, according to a Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosure, which requires that lobbyists working for foreign governments publicize their work.” Two hundred grand for six months’ work: nice amount of change even today. In 1984 it’d be even better.
…Nobody does any vetting at all over there, do they? As the Daily Beast goes on point out, a lot of Trump’s 9/11 revisionist rhetoric involves dark mutterings about Saudis… but I guess that’s all nonsense, right? Seeing as Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort, who made almost a million bucks in 1980s money doing the Saudis’ bidding in lobbying against Israel and securing arm sales to the Saudi government. Put more simply: when it comes to Trump’s AIPAC suck-up speech? Well, as the philosopher once said: that’s just what we call pillow talk, baby.
PS: Ted Cruz co-sponsored legislation to move the embassy to Jerusalem. He’s also managed to avoid hiring a top crony who once lobbied on behalf of the Saudis to prevent that very thing from happening. I leave it to the reader to decide which is more noteworthy.
*That we have not done this is another issue, albeit one that could be exploited with some vigor by a President looking for an excuse to cut the State Department’s funding in half. But, again: that’s another issue and post.