After Trump, Israel's Claim To Truth Is Stronger | Opinion

It is now a social imperative to distance oneself from President Donald Trump, if not to revile him. As The Times of Israel's David Horovitz has written: "Israel's White House ally is a figure of shame, and all who have celebrated associating with him are at risk of being stained." But I, for one, will not turn my back on a man, and a team, who attacked calcified anti-Israel lies and instead told the plain truth—and by doing so, lifted the Jewish state's international standing many-fold.

A Litany List of Bad Policy

Before Trump, we lived with the reality that Israel's greatest ally, the United States, also tacitly supported the enemies of Israel and their terrorist and narrative wars against us. In fact, when I lived in New York City in the 1990s, I kept a list of anti-Israel American policies.

Back then, we had to endure the United States' failure to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. By denying Zion (one of the biblical names of Jerusalem), the U.S. was denying Zionism—and gave ammunition to the lie that State of Israel was a foreign occupier in the Holy City.

We also lived with the United States' incessant demand that tiny Israel surrender its ancient heartland to create a Palestinian terror state. We saw Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn sign a peace accord under President Bill Clinton, and shortly afterward explain in South Africa that it was merely a step toward the goal of eradicating the Jewish state. Soon thereafter, a horrific terror war would leave thousands of Israelis and Arabs dead.

Moreover, there was the reflexive U.S. support for the Palestinian Authority (PA), including hundreds of millions of dollars that funded families of terrorists and murderers. All the while, the PA continued inciting against Israel, calling for the killing of Jews in TV and school programming. Simultaneously, the Palestinian narrative was gaining traction on U.S. university campuses, where the propaganda of "Israeli occupation" was being drilled into young American minds.

America also gave credence to the obsessively anti-Israel United Nations. While the U.S. did veto anti-Israel UN Security Council resolutions, it did not forthrightly challenge the barrage of lies against the Jewish state emanating from that organization's many arms.

And then there was the Barack Obama presidential administration, which was openly hostile to Israel. In his last days in office, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden advanced Resolution 2334 at the Security Council, which said that Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem (e.g., the Western Wall, Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives) and Judea had "no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation under international law." Obama/Biden also spearheaded the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal (i.e., the JCPOA), which gave the openly genocidal and anti-Semitic Tehran regime pallets of cash and a direct pathway to The Bomb.

In short, we knew that while America was Israel's greatest ally on the one hand, it was also working against the Jewish state on the other. In order to make the best of it, we tolerated a web of lies—that's just how the world was.

An Improbable Man Makes Improbable Changes

But then came the 2016 presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We knew what to expect from Clinton—four more years of anti-Israel, Obama-style policies. What we couldn't know, at the time, was that Donald Trump and his team would take the above list of anti-Israel lies and systematically dismantle them.

First was Jerusalem. In 1995, Congress declared that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel." Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all continued to sign a waiver of the law, thwarting the will of the American people and blocking this simple and ancient truth. But on December 6, 2017, President Trump announced U.S. recognition and began planning the relocation of the American embassy. The U.S. would no longer tolerate the absurd lie that Jerusalem was not the capital—the very heart—of Israel.

Next was the reversal of the JCPOA, to the relief of Israelis, especially Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been the world's leading advocate against Iranian aggression. On May 8, 2018, the U.S. officially withdrew from the JCPOA and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. The lie that the Iranian mullahs' regime was anything other than a leading sponsor of global terrorism was exposed and rejected.

Then there was the Trump administration's frontal attack on endemic anti-Israelism at the UN. The key person here was then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who said at AIPAC: "It cannot be the case that in an organization with 193 countries, the United Nations spends half of its time attacking only one country. We will not accept it any longer." She called out the UN's Relief Work Agency, UNRWA—"It cannot be the case that only one set of refugees throughout the world is counted in a way that causes the number to grow forever." And she lambasted the UN's world heritage arm: "UNESCO recently declared one of Judaism's holiest sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian heritage site in need of protection from Israel. That was enough," she said. "Ten months into this administration, the United States withdrew from UNESCO." The truth that the UN is a home for rabid Israel-hate was laid bare for all to see.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu in
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu meet in Oval Office in September 2020 Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images

Another milestone was the recognition of Jewish rights in Judea—Israel's ancestral heartland. One of my most vivid memories was hearing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announce that "the Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration's approach towards Israeli settlements. ...The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law." Pompeo subsequently declared that products coming from Jewish communities in Judea (i.e., the "West Bank") would be officially marked as "Made in Israel." The lie that Jews are foreign occupiers in Judea was finally challenged.

Then came the Taylor Force Act, which defunded the Palestinian Authority and their $303 million yearly stipends to terror perpetrators and the families of so-called "martyrs." Similarly, in 2018, President Trump also shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington. The murderous deceptions of PA-PLO were no longer tolerated.

The Dream Team and the Grand Slam

All these lie-busting policies led to the Abraham Accords, the Trump administration's brokered détente between Israel and the Islamic states of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. This, in turn, debunked the myth that Israel had to cede land to the PLO before there could be any broader regional normalization with the Jewish state. Once the region understood that the U.S. was no longer playing both sides, but was instead simply standing up for what was right, there was an unprecedented regional realignment. As David Weinberg wrote in The Jerusalem Post, the Abraham Accords "will prove to be the [Trump] administration's ultimate foreign policy legacy."

Trump's commitment to a "reality-based" policy was evident in the staff he put together: from the faithful and dignified Vice President Mike Pence to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the business-minded power couple Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—and the many more strongly pro-America and pro-Israel personnel who filled the ranks of the administration. And, of course, there was U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, hailed by Netanyahu for "correcting the diplomatic injustices that were created over the years in global diplomacy regarding Israel."

This dream team was driven to eradicate anti-Israel lies and end American support for recalcitrant forces. In the process, they set a new gold standard for American Middle East policy.

Trampling Trump to Undo His Policies

The far-reaching U.S. policy shift toward a strong Israel did not simply amount to "diplomatic gifts." Trump helped put Israel on the trajectory toward a true Middle East regional power and a global player—as opposed to an American client state—and the world began to accept this new understanding. Some countries began moving their embassies to Jerusalem, and many Arab countries moved toward peace. And it took a very unusual man, who had no allegiance to the old guard and the old lies, to break the mold.

However, the current atmosphere in the U.S. seeks to impeach President Trump, both in Congress and in the court of public opinion. Sadly, the magnitude of the administration's achievements are being drowned out, and the attacks on him now are meant to prepare the ground to undo all of his administration's transformative policies. And it is likely that the incoming Biden administration will return to the old pro-Iran, pro-UN, pro-Palestine playbook.

But just imagine what it would have looked like had a Hilary Clinton presidency followed two Obama terms: Israel would have been worn down from 12 years of badgering. Instead, post-Trump, Israel is facing the Biden era from a much stronger position. Indeed, it will forever be remembered that Trump and his team ushered in the era of a "reality-based," pro-Israel American Middle East policy. Israelis in the Holy Land and Israel-lovers in America both know it. And if Israel won't have a friend in the White House for the next four years, we can be thankful that President Trump gave Israel a great send-off—to be strong in the face of her many enemies and to break bread with new allies—and to be a beacon of truth amidst a world of lies.

Yishai Fleisher is the international spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.