In President Trump’s first State of the Union address, he presented a very different vision of the US’ relationship with Israel, and the rest of the world, than the one promoted by his predecessor Barack Obama.
President Trump’s first State of the Union address focused on domestic American issues like the US economy and the welfare of US citizens. However, President Trump is not advocating isolationism as many of his critics claim. Quite the contrary, Trump increasingly appears to follow in the footsteps of former President Ronald Reagan who advocated global peace through US strength and support of allies like Israel.
When Trump mentioned his historic recognition of Israel’s capital Jerusalem during his State of the Union address, it was received with widespread coolness among Democrats. With notable exceptions like Senator Chuck Schumer and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrats did not applaud Trump for the US recognition of Israel’s ancestral capital.
Support for Israel used to stand out as a bipartisan issue that united the otherwise frequently divided Democrats and Republicans. In fact, Democrats who criticize Trump on Jerusalem are in fact betraying American values and even the Democratic Party. Since the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act was passed in 1995, both Democratic and Republican Presidents have vowed to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
President Trump deserves credit for recognizing reality and starting to act where his predecessors have failed. Even Democrats who oppose Trump on other issues, should display intellectual honesty and credit the historic justice in officially recognizing the capital of the close US ally Israel.
The Jerusalem issue constitutes a fundamental component in the overall picture concerning how the Trump administration perceives the outside world. The Obama presidency was characterized by appeasing lethal foes like Iran and indifference towards US allies worldwide from Poland to Japan. However, Obama treated no other close US ally with more contempt than the Jewish state.
By contrast, Trump emphasized again that it is a US interest to support its allies and punish its foes. Unlike Obama, President Trump does not see Israel as the problem but part of the solution as a close and trusted US ally. Unlike Obama, Trump is not prepared to blindly secure a deal with Iran that threatens the security and interests of the US and its regional allies.
While Israel is among the world’s most pro-American countries, the Palestinian Authority is among the most anti-American societies in the world. This reality needs to be recognized and reflected in Washington’s policies concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict.