Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump's First Visit to Israel Brings Hope



Tragically, as President Donald Trump was rallying unity from Arab nations and Israel to combat Jihad Terrorism and their Islamic State sponsors, despite Barack Obama's assurances that "we've contained them," there was yet another Islamist attack at a concert venue in Manchester, England, leaving at least 22 dead. The attack occurred at an Ariana Grande show, and perhaps she will reconsider her "I hate America" sentiments now that her name will now be indelibly linked with the real haters.

"The terrorists and extremists, and those who give them aid and comfort, must be driven out of our society forever," President Trump said after the attack. "This wicked ideology must be obliterated."

With that now as our frame of reference, Trump landed in Israel Monday as part of his Middle Eastern tour to reassert American leadership in the region. Trump made known during his campaign that Israel would be a key part of his foreign policy objectives in the Middle East and, with his first visit with Saudi Arabia going fairly well, the Israelis awaited the arrival of Trump to the Holy Land.

Despite the anticipation, there are some high-ranking officials concerned over the $110 billion arms deal Trump signed over the weekend in Riyadh. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views Saudi Arabia as a "hostile nation" and sees this arms deal as troublesome for Israel's future. Trump, however, sees that America's strongest allies in the region must work together to "stamp out extremism." We agree — America can lead, but we cannot fight terrorists and violent extremist organizations alone.

Also, some Israeli intelligence officials are reportedly furious over Trump's decision to share with Russian officials classified information pertaining to the Islamic State, a common enemy of the U.S. and Russia. According to Israeli intelligence officials, sharing the information compromised a vital source on the Islamic State and Iran and may have caused problems for useful information on Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah's proxies in Syria and Lebanon.

Aside from these negatives, which the Leftmedia will certainly rehash for as long as possible, there are some major positives to highlight as well.

During his visit to Israel, Trump made history as the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, which is significant because it is Judaism's holiest site located inside Jerusalem's Old City. "I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall," Trump said afterwards. "Words fail to capture the experience. It will leave an impression on me forever."

During a joint press conference — which the White House billed as from "Jerusalem, Israel," in a significant shift of U.S. policy — Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for Trump's visit. "We appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East," Netanyahu said, in an obvious swipe at the previous administration. "For the first time in my lifetime, I see a real hope for peace."

Indeed, the tone from Trump must have been refreshing for Israel. In the same press conference, Trump stated, "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, and it must cease immediately." This is quite the contrast from Barack Obama, who promoted a legacy of loathing Israel and practically built Iran's nuclear program instead of dismantling it.

Still, there are some questions that remain unanswered. For example, Trump promised during his campaign that the U.S. embassy would move to Jerusalem. Since this will not be announced during this trip to Israel, there are already some who are accusing Trump of wavering on his commitment to do so.

But from a practical view, moving a U.S. embassy from one city to another is not an easy task, and it certainly won't happen in the first several months of Trump's presidency. There are numerous plans, protocols, coordination and security measures that must be taken into account, and none of that can happen quickly. And from a strategic standpoint, care must be taken with how such a significant move would affect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Nothing short of eliminating Israel would satisfy too many Palestinians, but provocation must be done thoughtfully and without short-circuiting Trump's other priorities for this particular trip.

There may be a deal in the works that we just don't yet know what it is or what it looks like. But American-Israeli relations are back on track, which for many voters, especially Christians, is a huge deal.



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