Archive for the ‘Trump agenda’ category

Trump Breaks the Diplomatic Mold

May 23, 2017

Trump Breaks the Diplomatic Mold, Commentary Magazine. May 22, 2017

President Donald Trump walks with Saudi King Salman at the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Upon arrival, Trump received a royal welcome. Saudi King Salman braved the 101-degree heat of the tarmac to greet the presidential plane personally. A brass band serenaded the two world leaders as cannons issued celebratory volleys and seven Saudi jets streamed trails of red, white, and blue overhead. The president and the king joined one another in the presidential limo and rode off together to an extravagant ceremony at the Saudi Court, where attention was even lavished upon the president’s aides.

The intentional contrast this reception struck with Barack Obama’s 2014 trip to the Saudi Kingdom was stark. Upon Obama’s arrival, King Salman dispatched only his distant nephew, the provincial governor of Riyadh, to meet the leader of the free world. The Obama White House did its best to save face, but the snub was a clear indication that tensions surrounding Iran nuclear deal, the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, and Obama’s explicit antipathy toward the Saudi Kingdom as a nation unworthy of an alliance with America.

As COMMENTARY’s Evelyn C. Gordon discussed, in exchange for Israeli technology and intelligence, a relaxation of the Gaza blockade, and the cessation of settlement construction in “some areas,” this Sunni alliance would “establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen.” And all of this would occur with existing Palestinian realities utterly unchanged. Even if no further progress toward peace in the region is secured, that bell cannot be un-rung.

A truly successful presidency in the Middle East may begin first with the abandonment of that burdensome, dog-eared diplomatic playbook.

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There is perhaps nothing a global class of calcified diplomatic professionals appreciates more than subtlety and nuance. Donald Trump’s tour of the world’s three major religious capitals is about as unsubtle and unnuanced as you can get. To many seasoned diplomats, this administration’s naïve effort to forge peace in this fashion is downright dangerous—possibly more than the administration even knows. Maybe. Or maybe the president and his team are dispensing with ossified convention in a field that could desperately use some fresh thinking. With the first leg of Trump’s world theological tour complete, it is not impossible that something new is taking shape.

In Saudi Arabia this weekend, Donald Trump danced with swords, touched an ominous glowing orb, and delivered a narrowly tailored and reasonably well-received speech on radical Islamic terrorism in the heart of the Islamic world. Among many other regional power brokers, the president also met with the leaders of Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. What Trump did in the Saudi Kingdom is, however, less interesting than how the Saudis responded to him.

Upon arrival, Trump received a royal welcome. Saudi King Salman braved the 101-degree heat of the tarmac to greet the presidential plane personally. A brass band serenaded the two world leaders as cannons issued celebratory volleys and seven Saudi jets streamed trails of red, white, and blue overhead. The president and the king joined one another in the presidential limo and rode off together to an extravagant ceremony at the Saudi Court, where attention was even lavished upon the president’s aides.

The intentional contrast this reception struck with Barack Obama’s 2014 trip to the Saudi Kingdom was stark. Upon Obama’s arrival, King Salman dispatched only his distant nephew, the provincial governor of Riyadh, to meet the leader of the free world. The Obama White House did its best to save face, but the snub was a clear indication that tensions surrounding Iran nuclear deal, the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, and Obama’s explicit antipathy toward the Saudi Kingdom as a nation unworthy of an alliance with America.

From Saudi Arabia, Trump traveled directly to Israel—itself a shift in convention—where he was also greeted warmly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife met the president and first lady at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Using his remarks alongside Trump to issue a veiled rebuke of Obama, Netanyahu noted: “We appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”

President Obama entered office with the objective of creating a new power balance in the region that would allow the United States to withdraw confidently. The former president’s stated belief that America’s alliance toward Israel “erodes our credibility with the Arab states” in combination with his mistrust toward Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt left him with few ways of achieving that goal. There’s a cosmic irony in the fact that Obama’s navel-gazing paved the way for a radically new and promising dynamic to emerge in the Middle East. Conceptually, the strategy Trump is pursuing in the Middle East is wildly divergent from his predecessors. He is effectively abandoning the idea that there can be no resolution of the Arab World’s hostility toward Israel without first creating a Palestinian state.

As recently as February, administration sources began providing details to the press about a proposed pan-Sunni military alliance designed to both counter Islamist extremism and a resurgent Iran. That alliance would include states with unfrozen relations with Israel, like Egypt and Jordan, and nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which do not recognize the Jewish state. According to a recent bombshell report, however, the prospect of a radical relaxation in tensions between Israel and the Arab World is real.

As COMMENTARY’s Evelyn C. Gordon discussed, in exchange for Israeli technology and intelligence, a relaxation of the Gaza blockade, and the cessation of settlement construction in “some areas,” this Sunni alliance would “establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen.” And all of this would occur with existing Palestinian realities utterly unchanged. Even if no further progress toward peace in the region is secured, that bell cannot be un-rung.

Donald Trump isn’t the first American president to benefit from warm feelings solely because he isn’t the last guy to have occupied the Oval Office. When it comes to the Middle East, crises and chaos have a habit of scuttling even the best-laid plans. Iranian power projection into places like Iraq, Yemen, and Syria has, however, created new avenues of cooperation between adversarial powers with a common enemy in Tehran. If Trump can translate this new reality into tangible accomplishment (a big “if”), he will have the makings of a potent argument for his presidency and a second term.

On foreign affairs, in particular, President Donald Trump has invited the wrath of the critics. He is “the world’s most undiplomatic” diplomat who has embraced illiberal and strategically inept “lame-stream diplomacy.” Indeed, his “rejection of traditional diplomacy for his own distinctive, brusque style has incurred costs without any visible offsetting benefits.” In his article “Is This the End of the Free World,” Abe Greenwald demonstrated that Trump has an appalling and lamentably familiar habit of alienating America’s natural allies. It’s a nasty feature of a distorted worldview, and it may result in the continued loss of allied faith in American vision and authority. For now, however, not only is the Middle East obviously thrilled for the Obama era to be over but that has provided Donald Trump with the opportunity for a real diplomatic triumph. A truly successful presidency in the Middle East may begin first with the abandonment of that burdensome, dog-eared diplomatic playbook.

Trump: Iran must disarm militias, never gain nuke

May 22, 2017

Trump: Iran must disarm militias, never gain nuke, DEBKAfile, May 22, 2017

Our military sources add: The issue of the pro-Iranian militias ties in directly with the battlefield confrontation building up in the past fortnight along Syria’s borders with Jordan and Iraq. DEBKAfile reports have disclosed the arrival of American and other Western special operations forces at a key crossing. They were followed this week by Russian elite contingents, who arrived nearby to support a Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah scheme to grab this vitally important border. The Americans are positioned there to prevent Iran from forging a land bridge from Tehran to Syria through Iraq by seizing control of this strategic border.

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“We can declare with one voice that Iran must not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon ever, ever and must cease training terrorists and militias immediately!’ said US President Donald Trump in a statement he issued at the Israeli president’s residence in Jerusalem on Monday on May 22, shortly after arriving in Israel.

“I come her to affirm that we are not only friends, but allies and will stand together always,” he went on to say and urged: “We must strengthen our cooperation, as we both face common threats from ISIS and other terrorists who foment terrible violence all over the world. Together we can end scores of years of violence,” he said.  Trump, who flew to Israel directly from Riyadh, reported on the strong consensus he found in the Muslim world on the need to stand up together against Iran.

He cited Saudi King Salman in this consensus, adding that the monarch and other Arab rulers feel strongly about the need for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Many of them, he said, expressed the will to end extremism, after hearing his speech. He also found a growing realization among the Arab and Muslim leaders he met in Riyadh Sunday of “their common cause with Israel under threat from Iran” and a willingness to help in the peace effort.

Trump said he was honored to be in the homeland of the Jewish people. He commended Israel’s commitment to peace and said he looked forward to discussing the process with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem Tuesday.

In a throwaway remark to reporters on arrival at the president’s residence, the US president said he had two first-rate envoys working on promoting a peace treaty, and named his special Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and the new US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. He joked: “If there is no peace, I’ll know whom to blame.”
President Reuven Rivlin said: We can’t wake up with Iran and Hizballah on our border. We want Iran out of Syria, out of Lebanon and away from our borders, and we must move forward to this goal together with America.”

DEBKAfile:  Donald Trump once again rebutted media evaluations of his trip to Israel as a demonstration of friendship without real content. Very shortly after his arrival, he stood up at the president’sl residence in Jerusalem and delivered a string of important policy statements and new revelations:

1. Iran would not be permitted to possess a nuclear weapon.

2, Iran must dismantle the Shiite terrorists and militias.

3. Iran must remove all those same foreign militias from Syria.

4. Iran must evacuate Hizballah forces from Syria and disarm this Lebanese Shiite organization.

5.  The Saudi King Salman had told him first hand of his fervent wish for an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Trump heard the same sentiment from other Arab and Muslim rulers.

Our military sources add: The issue of the pro-Iranian militias ties in directly with the battlefield confrontation building up in the past fortnight along Syria’s borders with Jordan and Iraq. DEBKAfile reports have disclosed the arrival of American and other Western special operations forces at a key crossing. They were followed this week by Russian elite contingents, who arrived nearby to support a Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah scheme to grab this vitally important border. The Americans are positioned there to prevent Iran from forging a land bridge from Tehran to Syria through Iraq by seizing control of this strategic border.

Trump: Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people

May 22, 2017

Trump: Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, The Jewish Press, Gary Willig, May 22, 2017

Rivlin and Trump Reuters

Rivlin congratulated Trump on his arrival in Israel and said, “We are happy to see that America is back in the area. America is back again … Israel appreciates America’s leadership and your administration in the action you took in Syria.”

Trump congratulated Rivlin and thanked him for his warm hospitality. “I am honored to be in the great State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. I am awed by the beauty and majesty of this sacred and very holy land.”

“This is an amazing country. What you have done, perhaps, has virtually never been done before. I come to this ancient land to reaffirm the enduring friendship between the United States and the State of Israel, and it will always be enduring,” Trump added.

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US President Donald Trump arrived Monday afternoon at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem and signed the guest book before beginning his working meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.

Rivlin congratulated Trump on his arrival in Israel and said, “We are happy to see that America is back in the area. America is back again … Israel appreciates America’s leadership and your administration in the action you took in Syria.”

“Even during our most difficult times, we have not given up on our dream of living here in peace with our neighbors,” Rivlin added, “Our destiny, Palestinians and Jews, is to live together in this land.”

Trump congratulated Rivlin and thanked him for his warm hospitality. “I am honored to be in the great State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. I am awed by the beauty and majesty of this sacred and very holy land.”

“This is an amazing country. What you have done, perhaps, has virtually never been done before. I come to this ancient land to reaffirm the enduring friendship between the United States and the State of Israel, and it will always be enduring,” Trump added.

Trump addressed threats in the region. “Israel and America face common threats from ISIS and other terrorist groups to countries like Iran, that sponsor terrorism and foment terrible violence.”

He said that Israel and the US would speak with one voice to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“Most importantly the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon — never ever — and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias.”

A Dose of Reality in Riyadh

May 22, 2017

A Dose of Reality in Riyadh, Front Page MagazineBruce Bawer, May 22, 2017

Early on in his speech, Trump addressed his audience as friends and partners; within a few minutes, without pointing a finger, and without abandoning the collegial tone or the complimentary language, made it clear he was lecturing them. He was the boss, the capo di tutti capi, and he was laying down terms. This wasn’t Obama, who naively thought he could change the world with groveling apologies for the West, praise for Islam built on sheer fantasy, and yet another retelling of his own supposedly inspiring personal story – all the while oozing beta-male deference and docility. No; this was a man of power who – never once talking about himself – made expert use of that power, wielding an iron fist in a velvet glove. His message was unmistakable: either set aside this stupid religion (or at least rein it in, and now), join the modern world, and set your people free to dream, hope, create, grow, and prosper. Or else face the consequences. When, at the end, he summed up the assets of the Islamic world, he didn’t even mention Islam: he cited, among other things, its “spirit of enterprise” and ambitious young people. Where Obama had falsely attributed all kinds of past wonders to Islam, Trump imagined an implicitly Islam-free future in which the region could finally enjoy “glorious wonders of science, art, medicine, and commerce to inspire mankind.” 

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On June 4, 2009, Barack Obama went to Cairo and delivered a speech, addressed to the Muslim world, that was full of praise for Islam and apologies on behalf of the West. In the address, entitled “A New Beginning” (“I’ve come here to Cairo,” he explained, “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”), he called the university at which he was speaking (which, if it were anywhere in the West, would probably not be able to gain accreditation) “a beacon of Islamic learning”; he blamed tensions between the West and Islam largely on Western “colonialism”; he said “Salaam aleikum” and kept referring to “the Holy Koran”; he asserted, in a ridiculous example of hyperbole, that “Islam has always been part of America’s story”; he served up a big wallop of revised history, giving Islam unmerited praise for centuries-old accomplishments in science, architecture, music, art, and medicine and even holding it up as “a model of tolerance and equality” (at one point, he seemed to imply that in some ways women’s rights are more advanced in the Muslim world than in the U.S.); and, with utter predictability, he quoted the the “Holy Koran” out of context, plucking out that favorite verse of all Western apologists that supposedly teaches “that if one kills an innocent, it is as if it he has killed all of mankind.”

And of course, as always, he talked about himself: a descendant of “generations of Muslims” in Kenya; a man who, in his Indonesian boyhood, daily heard the beautiful Islamic call to prayer; a president who had “known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.” As someone with such intimate ties to the Religion of Peace, asserted Obama, he saw it as part of his job to “fight against negative stereotypes of Islam.” Yes, he spoke about the need to fight terror, but he was quick to maintain that “Islam is not part of the problem” but rather “an important part of promoting peace.” He defended U.S. ties to Israel and recognized the “reality of the Holocaust,” but quickly pivoted to the “suffering” of Palestinians, the “pain of dislocation” they experienced, and the “daily humiliations” of the “occupation” – preaching, in short, to Israel from a Cairo pulpit. He quoted from the Talmud, but was careful not to call it holy. He implied that the histories of the Jews and Palestinians were equally tragic. And he preached to America too, suggesting that when Americans criticize the “choice” of women – and girls (!) – to wear hijab they were disguising their “hostility” to Islam “behind the pretense of liberalism.” Similarly, instead of thundering against the evil of 9/11, Obama apologized for the supposed excesses of some Americans’ responses to that atrocity, saying with nauseating chagrin that “in some cases it led us to acts contrary to our principles and our ideals.” Oh, and he vowed to close Guantánamo “by early next year.”

This Sunday, almost exactly as far into his presidency as Obama was when he gave his Cairo speech, Donald Trump spoke in Riyadh. For some of us, the very prospect of this appearance had been, to put it mildly, dismaying. Trump won the election, after all, largely because of his tough and bracingly realistic talk about Islam. Now, on his first trip abroad as president, he was going to Saudi Arabia. It was bad enough that this was a trip to a Muslim country. But Saudi Arabia isn’t just any Muslim country. It’s the mother of all Muslim countries. It’s the single most backward of them all. It’s a state sponsor of terrorism. It, and members of its royal family, have bankrolled mosques and madrassas and university departments of Middle Eastern Studies throughout the Western world – places that are nothing more than centers of Islamic propaganda. Most of the 9/11 hijackers, as the whole world knows, were Saudis. And the whole point of Trump’s visit to Riyadh was to celebrate a gigantic sale of U.S. arms to the Saudis on the premise that they represent a major bulwark against an even more dire threat, namely Iran. Nor was Trump just addressing the Saudis: also in attendance were the leaders of most of the other Muslim countries on the planet – in other words, a whole boatload of really nasty customers. It was hard not to conclude that Trump, like Obama, was going to try to brown-nose his way into a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims.”

The opening minutes of Trump’s speech certainly did nothing to dispel this expectation. It was gag-inducing to hear him praise the “magnificent kingdom” of Saudi Arabia, “the splendor of your country,” “the grandeur of this remarkable place,” and so on. It was absurd to hear him talk about working together with the ultra-extremist Saudis to eliminate “extremism.”

But then something happened. Even as he continued to serve up the usual glowing rhetoric about Islam being “one of the world’s great faiths,” and to refer to this and that as being “holy,” he made a couple of exceedingly elegant transitions. First, he began mixing the ethereal praise with realistic businessman-type talk about the value of international partnership. “We are not here to lecture, to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” he said. “Instead, we are here to offer partnership” between the West and the Muslim world – a partnership that would bring prosperity to future Muslim generations. But he underscored the fact that in order for such a partnership to work, something would have to change. And it would have to change a lot. The Islamic world, he insisted, had to turn into a place where young Muslims could grow up “innocent of hatred.” And then he spelled out the results of that hatred, presenting first a roll call of some of the “barbaric attacks” on America – 9/11, Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando – and then a list of other places (“Europe, Africa, South America, India, Russia, China, and Australia”) where that hatred has manifested itself.

However delicately he worked his way around to it, it was nothing less than an accusation.

No, he didn’t explicitly charge Muslim leaders with funding terrorism – but he told them, in no uncertain terms, that they needed to cut off funds to terrorists. Nor did he explicitly blame Islam for terror or explicitly call it evil (as much as some of us would have loved to hear him do so) – but he came tantalizingly close to doing so, speaking bluntly about the “vile creed,” the “wicked ideology,” the “craven ideology”, that underlies terror. He did use the word “evil.” And, yes, he spoke of “Islamic” (not “Islamist” or “radical Islamic”) terror. And he made it clear he wasn’t just talking about terrorism – he was talking about Islam itself. He condemned “the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.” He warned: “barbarism will deliver you no glory. Piety to evil will bring you no dignity.”  Yes, “piety to evil.” Even as he continued to make flattering references to Islam, they felt increasingly pro forma, and it became increasingly manifest that he was identifying that religion as the root not just of terror but of all that is primitive and barbaric about that portion of the world in which it is most commonly practiced. In one remarkable passage, he listed a number of wonders of the Arab region of which his listeners should be proud. What was remarkable was that they were all wonders that dated to pre-Islamic times. In short, he was reminding these people that they had a proud history, a proud identity, that predated their prophet and that could, if they wished, help form the foundation of a new, free, forward-looking culture.

Of course, even to express such thoughts, in some Islamic countries, is considered heretical, illegal; but Trump did it in such a masterly way that you could imagine some of these Muslim big shots sitting there trying to figure out whether they should be offended or not.

In fact, it was all quite masterfully done. Early on in his speech, Trump addressed his audience as friends and partners; within a few minutes, without pointing a finger, and without abandoning the collegial tone or the complimentary language, made it clear he was lecturing them. He was the boss, the capo di tutti capi, and he was laying down terms. This wasn’t Obama, who naively thought he could change the world with groveling apologies for the West, praise for Islam built on sheer fantasy, and yet another retelling of his own supposedly inspiring personal story – all the while oozing beta-male deference and docility. No; this was a man of power who – never once talking about himself – made expert use of that power, wielding an iron fist in a velvet glove. His message was unmistakable: either set aside this stupid religion (or at least rein it in, and now), join the modern world, and set your people free to dream, hope, create, grow, and prosper. Or else face the consequences. When, at the end, he summed up the assets of the Islamic world, he didn’t even mention Islam: he cited, among other things, its “spirit of enterprise” and ambitious young people. Where Obama had falsely attributed all kinds of past wonders to Islam, Trump imagined an implicitly Islam-free future in which the region could finally enjoy “glorious wonders of science, art, medicine, and commerce to inspire mankind.”

Yes, it would have been terrific to hear an American president spell out the truth about Islam in a less nuanced, less diplomatic fashion. And it was frankly bizarre to hear Trump, in his closing moments, singling Iran out as uniquely malevolent after having heaped praise on other equally nefarious regimes whose leaders were right there in the room with him. But we critics of Islam have our jobs and Trump has his. Given the occasion and the purpose, this was, even at its worst, an immense improvement over Obama’s Cairo oration, and, at its best, a convincing assertion of authority, a strongly pitched demand for radical transformation, and a perfectly calibrated use of the carrot-and-stick approach.

No, international Islam is almost certainly beyond meaningful reform. But history has shown that it can at least be contained and controlled in ways that give citizens of Muslim-majority countries a certain degree of freedom and that keep to a minimum the scale of violence in the West originating in those countries. (The rampant Islamization of the West, and the concomitant increase in home-grown Islamic terror, are separate questions.) And no, a single speech can’t accomplish much of anything. But Trump’s tough presentation in Riyadh, if followed up by equally tough interactions with our “friends” in that audience, may well get a few things, here and there, moving in welcome directions.

We want peace, not a peace ‘process’

May 22, 2017

We want peace, not a peace ‘process’, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, May 22, 2017

After 100 years of conflict, this is what we’ve learned: There is no chance to advance toward peace as long as there is no Arab-Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. Sadly, the war against us will continue no matter how much we withdraw. This land was never a separate, sovereign entity for any nation other than the Jewish people. Even Jerusalem only became important religiously and historically thanks to the Jews. These are the fundamental conditions for fruitful negotiations. For once, we would also like to hear the Palestinians declare out loud what they would accept as a final offer, one that would end the conflict and after which they would make no more demands.

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“I love the people of Israel,” you told me in the Oval Office. Seeing as this wasn’t our first interview — I had already gotten to know you rather well during the campaign — I know you were speaking from the heart, rather than trying to curry favor with me.

I know you are sincere when you say you are committed to the security and future of Israel. You believe the United States and Israel are allies that share common values, and that America must not forsake old friends. Your powerful bond with Israel and the Jewish people was not imposed on you by your position. There are even those who say that your affection for Israel is a family affair.

The commitment and affection between Americans and Israelis is mutual. There is a great deal of love in Israel for the U.S. and its people. Throughout your campaign, Mr. President, you had many supporters here in Israel. Less in the media and more on the street — see? I told you the U.S. and Israel have a lot in common.

Here in Israel, no one burns American flags. Not now and not ever. The American flag is almost as popular here as the Israeli flag. For us, both flags symbolize liberty and hope.

Mr. President, you arrive here from Saudi Arabia with a passion to see Israel and its neighbors make peace. We thank you for this genuine desire and wish you, and us, success in this endeavor. But you must know that the last thing we need is another failed peace process. We are tired of futile diplomacy that only leads to more bloodshed, prompting us to adopt a more sober view regarding the prospects of successful negotiations and tempering our faith in peace. We want peace, not a peace process.

The country of the Jewish people

After 100 years of conflict, this is what we’ve learned: There is no chance to advance toward peace as long as there is no Arab-Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. Sadly, the war against us will continue no matter how much we withdraw. This land was never a separate, sovereign entity for any nation other than the Jewish people. Even Jerusalem only became important religiously and historically thanks to the Jews. These are the fundamental conditions for fruitful negotiations. For once, we would also like to hear the Palestinians declare out loud what they would accept as a final offer, one that would end the conflict and after which they would make no more demands.

In Riyadh on Sunday, we heard King Salman talk about the need to combat terrorism and warning of the Iranian threat that is jeopardizing the prospects of regional peace. Israel has been saying this for years. In your speech, you, too, sought to distinguish between good and evil. We need this distinction, after years of politically correct ambiguity.

You noted in your speech the need to combat the extremists; you mentioned Iran, al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas. But this axis of evil claims the opposite: that Israel and the U.S. are responsible for terrorism around the world. College campuses across the U.S. are disgracefully portraying Israel as being responsible for terrorism.

But the sad truth is quite the opposite: For over 100 years, we have been subjected to murderous terrorism in various forms, long before the so-called “occupation.” Terrorism in Israel needs to be treated the same as terrorism anywhere else in the world. All terrorism draws on the same source.

There is no Zionism without Zion

Mr. President, you chose to visit during a festive week. Fifty years ago, Israeli soldiers liberated Jerusalem from foreign rule. It has been 1,835 years since Bar-Kokhba’s fighters entered the destroyed city in 132 C.E. They engraved coins with the words “To the freedom of Jerusalem” and commemorated King David, who made it the eternal city. Jerusalem is Zion. There is no Zionism without Zion. This is the place we yearned to return to for 2,000 years. Now that we have returned, nothing can ever cut out the heart of the Jewish people.

Israel welcomes you with blessings, Mr. President. We wish you a successful visit. We bless your arrival with these words: The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace (Psalms 29:11).

Palestinians: Tomorrow’s Secret ‘Day of Rage’

May 21, 2017

Palestinians: Tomorrow’s Secret ‘Day of Rage’, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, May 21, 2017

(Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu will arrange for a bit of sightseeing or at least whisper in President Trump’s ear and provide some videos. — DM)

What is really driving this Palestinian hatred of Trump and the U.S.? The Palestinians and the Arabs have long been at war with what they regard as U.S. bias in favor of Israel. What they mean is that U.S. support for Israel stands in their way of destroying Israel.

Abbas is not going to tell Trump about the “Day of Rage” because it flies in the face of his repeated claim that Palestinians are ready for peace and are even raising their children in a culture of peace.

Once again, Abbas is playing Americans and other Westerners for fools. His people remain unwilling to recognize Israel’s very right to exist as a state for Jews. And so, Abbas will talk peace and coexistence while his people organize yet another “Day of Rage.”

Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority (PA), preparing to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump to Bethlehem, are seeking to create the impression that their sentiments are shared by their people. Yet many Palestinians are less than enthusiastic about the visit.

It is in the best interests of Abbas and the PA to hide the truth that many Palestinians view the U.S. as an Israel-loving enemy.

While the PA president and his aides attempt to bury that inconvenient fact, they are also doing their best to cover up the truth that many Palestinians have been radicalized to a point that they would rather aim a gun or knife at Israelis than aim for peace with them.

The strongest and most vocal protests against Trump’s visit have thus far come from Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians.

Ramallah is regularly described by Western journalists as a base for moderation and pragmatism. It is in this city that Abbas and the top PA leadership live and work.

In a statement published earlier this week, the National and Islamic Forces in Ramallah and El-Bireh, a coalition of various Palestinian political and terror groups, called for a “Day of Popular Rage” in the West Bank to protest the imminent presidential visit.

In Palestinian-speak, a “Day of Rage” is a call for intensified violence and terrorism directed mainly against Jews.

The term was formally introduced during the First Intifada, which erupted in late 1987, and consisted of stone and petrol-bomb attacks against Israel Defense Force soldiers and Jews residing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Similarly, during the Second Intifada, which began in 2000, Days of Rage were associated with suicide bombings, drive-by shootings and other acts of terrorism and assorted crimes perpetrated against Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as within Israel.

In recent years, Abbas’s Fatah faction and other groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have used different occasions to urge Palestinians to declare a Day of Rage against Israel.

Generally speaking, such calls come in response to Jewish visits to the Temple Mount — visits that have been taking place since East Jerusalem was liberated from Jordanian occupation in 1967.

The visits were temporarily suspended, however, for security reasons in the first years of the Second Intifada, out of concern for the safety of visitors. It is worth noting that non-Muslims are allowed to tour the Temple Mount, as has been true for the past five decades. The Palestinians, however, are specifically opposed to Jews visiting the site, under the false pretext that Jews are plotting to rebuild their Temple after destroying the Islamic holy sites there. This charge is, of course, another Palestinian blood libel against Jews.

So here we are again. Palestinians are calling for marking Trump’s visit with a Day of Rage (read: heightened terrorism). The statement issued by the National and Islamic Forces in Ramallah and El-Bireh is a clear and direct invitation to Palestinians to take to the streets and mow down Jews.

What is really driving this Palestinian hatred of Trump and the U.S.?

From the Palestinian point of view, were it not for the U.S., the Palestinians and the Arabs would have succeeded long ago in achieving their goal of destroying Israel.

“We reject American bias in favor of Israel,” read the statement. “We call for popular marches and rallies to affirm our people’s adherence to their legitimate rights, including the right of return and self-determination.” The statement also warned against U.S. pressure on Abbas and the PA leadership to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

The so-called “right of return” demanded by Palestinians means the right to flood Israel with millions of Palestinians, in order to create an Arab-majority state where Jews would live as a minority. This would come in addition to the creation of another Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians and the Arabs have long been at war with what they regard as U.S. bias in favor of Israel. What they mean is that U.S. support for Israel stands in their way of destroying Israel. They are saying: Only if Americans would stop supporting Israel financially, militarily and politically, we would be able to remove Israel from the face of the earth.

Neither Trump nor any members of his entourage is likely to notice the latest Palestinian Day of Rage. The strict, unprecedented security measures surrounding Trump’s planned visit to Bethlehem, and the fact that the stop is to last for only for 45 minutes, will make sure of that. Trump will not see Palestinians protesting against his visit. Nor will he see, during his visit, Palestinians closing their businesses and hurling stones and petrol bombs at Jews.

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – MAY 15: (ISRAEL OUT) Palestinian demonstrators throw stones toward Israeli soldiers during clashes outside of Ofer Prison on May 15, 2012 near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinians mark Israel’s establishment in 1948 with “Nakba” or “catastrophe” day on May 15, to remember the thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled during the creation of the Jewish state and the subsequent war. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Trump’s Palestinian hosts will do their utmost to disguise many unpleasant truths. For instance, they probably will not mention that Palestinians are taking to the streets to protest his visit as well as to go after Jews. Abbas is not going to tell Trump about the Day of Rage because it flies in the face of his repeated claim that Palestinians are ready for peace and are even raising their children in a “culture of peace.”

The Palestinian Day of Rage during Trump’s visit is a further sign of the increased radicalization among Palestinians and their unwillingness to accept Israel’s right to exist as a state for Jews. Days of Rage are far from contained responses to particular Israeli policies or actions on the ground. The Day of Rage can be traced to the Arab and Muslim world with the establishment of Israel in 1948, and continues to be used by Arabs and Muslims as a tool of terrorism.

In truth, such days are an expression of rage over the presence of Jews in a sovereign state in the Middle East, and of wrath over U.S. support for Israel and of Palestinian support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups. Days of Rage will continue as long as Palestinians continue to believe that Israel can and should be destroyed.

Once again, Abbas is playing Americans and other Westerners for fools. His people remain unwilling to recognize Israel’s very right to exist. And so, Abbas will talk peace and coexistence while his people organize yet another Day of Rage.

Trump, Unlike Obama, Addressed ‘Islamic Terror’ Directly

May 21, 2017

Trump, Unlike Obama, Addressed ‘Islamic Terror’ Directly, BreitbartJoel B. Pollak, May 21, 2017

President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama delivered addresses to the Muslim world at roughly the same point in their respective presidencies.

But unlike Obama, who attempted to appease Islamic resentment of the West by admitting America’s faults, Trump’s speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday emphasized terrorism and challenged the Arab and Muslim world to foster peace by “honestly confronting the problem of Islamic extremism, and the Islamists, and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

The first difference between the two speeches was the setting. Trump addressed a summit of Arab and Muslim leaders at a conference to deal with terrorism. Obama, by contrast, invited members of the Muslim Brotherhood to his address at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

Trump rallied the nations of the region to deal with a problem in their midst; Obama gave legitimacy to a banned group associated with terror and extremist ideology.

Obama began his address by focusing on western guilt:

More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

In contrast, Trump began by declaring that “Muslim countries must take the lead in combating radicalization. He said that he was not there to lecture to others about how to worship, but to call for unity “in pursuing the one goal: … to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces that terrorism brings with it every single time,” singling out “young Muslim men and women.”

Trump went further, taking on “terrorism and the ideology that drives it.” He listed recent terror attacks in the U.S. and around the world, and noted that “the deadliest toll has been extracted from the innocent people of Arab and Muslim nations.” The optimism of the region, he said, was “held at bay by bloodshed and terror.” And he added: “There can be no co-existence with this violence.”

Obama, too, had emphasized that many of the victims of groups like Al Qaeda were Muslim. Like Obama, Trump distanced terror from faith, suggesting terrorists falsely used the name of God, and implying that the problem was not limited to Islam, But Trump did not shy away from the link to Islam, whereas Obama sought to absolve Islam itself of any link with terrorism.

Obama said: “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.” Obama never even used the word “terror.” He simply referred to “violence against civilians” by “extremists,” whom he never connected directly to Islam.

In contrast, Trump told the gathering in Saudi Arabia to “[d]rive them [terrorists] out from your places of worship,” and exhorted the nations present to make sure “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.”

Obama defended America to the Muslim world by emphasizing America’s connection to Islam — almost describing the U.S. as a Muslim nation itself. “[L]et there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America,” Obama declared. He cited exaggerated population figures for Muslims in the U.S.: “nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today,” he claimed.

Trump, in contrast, praised the achievements of the Arab and Muslim world in the region itself, but did not try to remake America in Islam’s image. Trump also spoke in a forthright manner about the persecution of Jews, whereas Obama irritated Israelis by claiming Israel was created because of the Holocaust.

Both presidents were gracious to their audience. Both downplayed the idea of interfering in the affairs of the Muslim world, unlike earlier administrations. Trump offered the Saudis the “friendship, and hope, and love” of the American people, and praised his hosts as the guardians of “the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith.” Trump also praised the arms deal he had reached with Saudi Arabia the day before, which he said would help both sides.

Obama was somewhat less focused on Egypt itself, but was effusive in his praise of Islam in general, crediting it — with some exaggeration — with making the European enlightenment possible, and with fostering religious tolerance.

Yet Trump was clear about the need to confront Iran as a common challenge to peace in the entire region. He even implied that regime change was an ultimate goal of U.S. policy toward Iran. Obama, in contrast, appeased Iran and accepted blame, publicly, for a “role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government” in the 1950s.

Early media reports suggest that Trump’s speech is being described as “moderate,” because he did not use the signature phrase “radical Islamic terror.” That is not accurate: the principal objection to Obama’s evasion was the absence of the word “Islam,” which Trump addressed directly. But if that is indeed how the speech was received, then Trump achieved something great indeed: identifying the eradication of Islamic terror as a “moderate” value.