The last two weeks have been a busy time for the foreign policy efforts of President Trump. Trump announced last week that he will officially declare the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran a terrorist organization, which is likely to put U.S. troops in the region at an increased risk following such action, according to CNN.

But that may not be the biggest news out of the Middle East this week. The Israeli elections resulted in the reelection of Benjamin Netanyahu as the country’s Prime Minister, to which President Trump expressed excitement. Trump and Netanyahu, both incredibly conservative, have long maintained a close relationship, making Trump's support of the Prime Minister rather unsurprising. According to NPR, Trump also put his new Middle East policy into action, declaring Golan Heights the sovereign territory of the Israeli state, putting U.S. policy at odds with the stance of the United Nations and much of the international community.

While snap decisions in policies made by the president are hardly unsurprising, these actions reflect a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East which has unavoidable consequences. Not only does Trump slap the UN in the face by aggressively opposing the policies and viewpoints of the organization for which the U.S. is a member, but his actions also threaten the future of our relationship with Israel and the rest of the Middle East because of the drastic changes in our policy.

We as a nation must respond to the actions of Trump both critically and carefully. Trump threatens our country’s relations with the greater international community, which will undoubtedly be a hole that will take decades after Trump is out of office to dig ourselves out of. Interaction with the Middle East is complicated, given that our foreign policy in the region has long been plagued by misconceptions of the people and cultures who call the region home. We must approach the 2020 U.S. elections with an understanding that current policy in the Middle East drastically diverts from the longstanding policy of our country, and that such issues should be at the forefront of our evaluation of candidates on both sides of the aisle. We must find a way to call out the injustices in the large and complex region that is the Middle East and work to remedy our self-induced alienation from the United Nations. We must support Israel and maintain an allied relationship, but call out the state’s unjust treatment of Palestinian Israelis.

America’s complex relationship with Israel must be met with complex responses to current affairs. We can be critical of Netanyahu and still support the Jewish state of Israel. We can recognize that pointing out the problems of the state does not make us inherently anti-Israel, just as criticism of our own president does not make us anti-American.

Contact Kirby Goodman at kdgoodman@colgate.edu.

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