by Jack Engelhard
May 25, 2017
President Trump’s visit to Israel was a reminder to Israel, a nation of miracles, that miracles still happen.
For the longest time – those eight long years of Obama – it must have seemed that the nightmare would never end.
Enter Trump and everything is different. America is back, and so is Israel. The slump is over, finished.
For Israel, how refreshing to welcome an American President as a friend.
The moment Trump stepped off the plane, the entire nation was reinvigorated. He didn’t have to do anything or say anything. As we say – showing up is 80 percent of life.
For Trump the New Yorker, Israel is no strange place. (What’s it doing in Asia we sometimes ask ourselves.) More like the days when he’d duck into the corner deli where the waiters tell you what to eat and the same pastrami sandwich costs different every time. The place is always teeming and lively and if people argue once in a while, so what, it’s home.
Heimish is the word, the Yiddish word for something familiar, something cozy, and for Trump, heimish is Israel.
Call it a homecoming of sorts for a father whose daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, smiling wide and true, welcomed Trump at the airport like a long lost brother who needed to be told, “Nu (Well) — What took you so long?”
For Sara Netanyahu, it was a chance to welcome the guests with the professionalism of a tour guide but seasoned with the warmth of a traditional Yiddisheh Mama. As hostess to the nation, she fell smoothly to the task of exhibiting to the President and his First Lady the many attractions that proudly declare, look what we’ve done to this place.
What they’ve done to Israel is something to behold and Trump took it all in over a period of two days – a period that changed the world. Modern Israel will never be quite the same ever since this visit.
The entire world saw an American President bestow kindness, friendship, respect and protection to the Jewish State and let no one (like Iran) try anything foolish. It’s like that when the biggest guy on the block puts his arm around you for the entire neighborhood to see.
This was not the time for politics. It was the time for symbols and it was a time for television to broadcast those symbols, however limited, in America.
The visit to the Western Wall, even without Bibi, was a powerful statement that this place is eternally Jewish – and he was wearing a yarmulke to make the exclamation mark.
Trump’s magnificent farewell speech at the Israel Museum, where he mentioned “the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people” without quite mentioning it as the capital of the Jewish Nation, was warmly given and warmly received. He roused the audience to its feet when he said, “Iran routinely calls for Israel’s destruction – not with Donald J. Trump.”
CNN did not play that, neither did MSNBC or ABC, CBS or NBC. Fox News and the BBC did. And so do we — full video and text below.
Thus, millions of Americans were denied President Trump at his best, and Israel in its glory.
Nothing will stop them from hammering Trump over the fake scandals they attribute to him.
Trump’s theme throughout the visit, beginning in Saudi Arabia, was about the imperative to “drive out the terrorists.” There in Riyadh, with nearly all the world’s Muslim monarchs and leaders in attendance, the President used cadence to bring home that message. He was diplomatic. He did not point fingers.
But it is possible that some at least caught the drift – that he was blaming them, one and all. The nuance may have escaped Mahmoud Abbas as well.
Trump met Abbas in Bethlehem where Trump may have been too nuanced when, using the passive voice, he said, “Peace can never be achieved where terrorists are funded and even rewarded.” An accusation directed personally against the man who does all that would have been powerful. A wasted shot.
For some, like this writer, it’s disturbing to find thugocracies like the PA and the PLO so automatically given equal billing with the sovereign State of Israel.
Other than that, Trump’s visit was a triumph for the centuries – certainly this century.
This is the full video and text of President Trump’s speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem yesterday, May 23, 2017
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. It’s very nice. And thank you to Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I also want to thank Sara for hosting us last night in really a very unforgettable dinner. We had a great time. We talked about a lot of very, very important things.
And thank you to Ambassador David Friedman and Mrs. Friedman for joining us, along with a number of very good friends who have come from our country to yours, as we reaffirm the unshakable bond between the United States of America and Israel. Thank you. (Applause.)
I’d like to begin my remarks today by sending the thoughts and prayers of the entire American people to the victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester. You know — you’ve all been watching. You’ve seen just a horrible thing going on. I want to send our condolences to the many families who lost their loved ones.
Horrific, horrific injuries. Terrible. Dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity. I repeat again that we must drive out the terrorists and the extremists from our midst, obliterate this evil ideology, and protect and defend our citizens and people of the world. (Applause.)
All civilized nations much be united in this effort. This trip is focused on that goal: bringing nations together around the goal of defeating the terrorism that threatens the world, and crushing the hateful ideology that drives it so hard and seems to be driving it so fast.
It is a privilege to stand here in this national museum, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, to address the Israeli people and all people in the Middle East who yearn for security, prosperity and peace.
Jerusalem is a sacred city. Its beauty, splendor, and heritage are like no other place on Earth. (Applause.) What a heritage. What a heritage. The ties of the Jewish people to this Holy Land are ancient and eternal. (Applause.) They date back thousands of years, including the reign of King David whose star now flies proudly on Israel’s white and blue flag.
Yesterday, I visited the Western Wall, and marveled at the monument to God’s presence and man’s perseverance. I was humbled to place my hand upon the wall and to pray in that holy space for wisdom from God. I also visited and prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a site revered by Christians throughout the world.
I laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, honoring, remembering, and mourning the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. I pledged right then and there what I pledge again today: the words “Never again.” (Applause.)
Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people. From all parts of this great country, one message resounds, and that is the message of hope.
Down through the ages, the Jewish people have suffered persecution, oppression, and even those who have sought their destruction. But, through it all, they have endured and, in fact, they have thrived. I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the Jewish people, and I make this promise to you:
My administration will always stand with Israel. (Standing ovation, sustained applause.) Thank you very much.
Through your hardships, you have created one of the most abundant lands anywhere in the world — a land that is rich not only in history, culture, and opportunity, but especially in spirit. This museum where we are gathered today tells the story of that spirit.
From the two Holy Temples, to the glorious heights of Masada, we see an incredible story of faith and perseverance. That faith is what inspired Jews to believe in their destiny, to overcome their despair, and to build here — right here — a future that others dared not even to dream.
In Israel, not only are Jews free to till the soil, teach their children, and pray to God in the ancient land of their fathers — and they love this land, and they love God — but Muslims, Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience, and to follow their dreams, right here.
Today, gathered with friends, I call upon all people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and every faith, every tribe, every creed — to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls.
Earlier this week, I spoke at a very historic summit in Saudi Arabia. I was hosted by King Salman — a very wise man. There, I urged our friends in the Muslim world to join us in creating stability, safety and security. And I was deeply encouraged by the desire of many leaders to join us in cooperation toward these shared and vital goals.
Conflict cannot continue forever. The only question is when nations will decide that they have had enough — enough bloodshed, enough killing.
That historic summit represents a new opportunity for people throughout the Middle East to overcome sectarian and religious divisions, to extinguish the fires of extremism, and to find common ground and shared responsibility in making the future of this region so much better than it is right now.
Change must come from within. It can only come from within. No mother or father wants their children to grow up in a world where terrorists roam free, schoolchildren are murdered, and their loved ones are taken. No child is born with prejudice in their heart. No one should teach young boys and girls to hate and to kill. No civilized nation can tolerate the massacre of innocents with chemical weapons.
My message to that summit was the same message I have for you: We must build a coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremists and violence, and providing our children a peaceful and hopeful future.
But a hopeful future for children in the Middle East requires the world to fully recognize the vital role of the State of Israel. (Applause.)
And, on behalf of the United States, we pledge to stand by you and defend our shared values so that together we can defeat terrorism and create safety for all of God’s children. (Applause.)
Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence. Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knives and bombs. Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to the bomb shelters — with fear, but with speed. ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues, and storefronts.
And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction. Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me. (Standing ovation, sustained applause.) Thank you. I like you too. (Laughter.)
Despite these challenges, Israel is thriving as a sovereign nation, and no international body should question the contributions Israel makes to the region and, indeed, the world.
Today, let us pray for that peace and for a more hopeful future across the Middle East.
There are those who present a false choice. They say that we must choose between supporting Israel and supporting Arab and Muslim nations in the region. That is completely wrong.
All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism. Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region.
My administration is committed to pursuing such a coalition, and we have already made substantial progress during this trip. We know, for instance, that both Israelis and Palestinians seek lives of hope for their children. And we know that peace is possible if we put aside the pain and disagreements of the past and commit together to finally resolving this crisis, which has dragged on for nearly half a century or more.
As I have repeatedly said, I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement, and I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace. I know you’ve heard it before. I am telling you — that’s what I do. They are ready to reach for peace.
In my meeting with my very good friend, Benjamin, I can tell you also that he is reaching for peace. He wants peace. He loves people. He especially loves the Israeli people. Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace.
Making peace, however, will not be easy. We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions. But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.
But even as we work toward peace, we will build strength to defend our nations. The United States is firmly committed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias. (Applause.) So we are telling you right now that Iran will not have nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
America’s security partnership with Israel is stronger than ever. Under my administration, you see the difference — big, big beautiful difference — (laughter and applause) — including the Iron Dome missile defense program, which has been keeping the Israeli people safe from short-range rockets launched by Hezbollah and Hamas, and David’s Sling, which guards against long range missiles.
It is my hope that someday, very soon, Israeli children will never need to rush towards shelters again as sirens ring out loud and clear.
Finally, the United States is proud that Israeli Air Force pilots are flying the incredible, new American F-35 planes. (Applause.) There is nothing in the world like them to defend their nation, and it was wonderful to see these mighty aircraft in the skies over Israel recently as you celebrated the 69th anniversary of Israel’s independence.
But even as we strengthen our partnership in practice, let us always remember our highest ideals. Let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people, and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for every man and every woman.
Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance, and respect.
The values that are practiced in Israel have inspired millions and millions of people all across the world. The conviction of Theodor Herzl rings true today: “Whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will rebound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind.”
As we stand in Jerusalem, we see pilgrims of all faiths coming to this land to walk on this hallowed ground. Jews place the prayers from their hearts in the stone blocks of the beautiful Western Wall. Christians pray in the pews of an ancient church. Muslims answer the call to prayer at their holy sites.
This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of human hearts to know and to worship God.
Jerusalem stands as a reminder that life can flourish against any odds. When we look around this city — so beautiful — and we see people of all faiths engaged in reverent worship, and schoolchildren learning side-by-side, and men and women lifting up the needy and forgotten, we see that God’s promise of healing has brought goodness to so many lives.
We see that the people of this land had the courage to overcome the oppression and injustice of the past and to live in the freedom God intends for every person on this Earth.
Today, in Jerusalem, we pray and we hope that children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence. I ask this land of promise to join me to fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the State of Israel. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much. (Standing ovation, sustained applause.)