It was probably inevitable. Even Donald Trump’s most ardent admirers in Israel understood that it was always a package deal.
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Strong support for Israel’s position on issues with political resonance in the United States – Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Iran deal – was bestowed by a president with a well-documented history, in his long business and entertainment career and his short political rise, of a Me First-America First ethos and a total disregard for the concerns of others, even those in his own camp.
But that foreknowledge does not lessen the sting.
With Trump’s decision this week to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria and give a green light to a Turkish invasion of areas controlled by the Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Israel came face to face with the cold, hard reality of the damage caused by Trump's isolationist instincts, and chaotic, impulsive decision-making.
Still, no one can honestly claim to be surprised.
Policy differences between Israel and the United States on how best to support the Kurds of Syria and Iraq are not new. Both countries have seen value in building partnerships with members of this long-suffering stateless minority, many of whose leaders – although not all – have adopted moderate, pro-Western policies, and have struggled to defend themselves from oppressive regimes in Damascus and Baghdad, while assisting their brethren in Iran and Turkey.
In 2014, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went so far as to express public support for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. It was easy to understand the Israeli view.