US President Donald Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)
By the time this column is published the United States will have moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It has been an incredible few days in Jerusalem, leading up to the embassy move. Americans from all over the US – of every religion and affiliation – have gathered in Jerusalem for the move. Most of us can scarcely believe this is actually happening. We remember the repeated broken promises of successive American presidents over a quarter of a century to move the embassy and we’re still in shock that this time the promise has been kept.
President Donald Trump has electrified the State of Israel with the embassy move. You have to see the excitement on the streets, especially Jerusalem, to understand the depth of gratitude. Flags are flying from every street light. Massive signs around the capital show the American and Israeli flags intertwined with giant thank yous to President Trump. In the US many Jews have hesitations about the president, but among Israelis and among the American Jews who crossed the Atlantic to be here for the historic opening, he is a hero and the man of the moment.
In a single week President Trump has not only established America’s embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, but also rid America of the shame of the Iran nuclear deal, which completely overlooked all of Iran’s sins. In doing so, he has created the potential for reining in the rogue regime in Tehran, curbing the ascendance of radical Islamists and advancing a foreign policy that recognizes evil and holds belligerent government accountable. Simultaneously, Trump has emerged as a great champion of the Jewish people and a protector of Israel.
I was in Europe when I watched Trump announce he was stabbing the Iran nuclear deal in the heart and killing it once and for all. Immediately, the condemnations of Trump began. A warmonger. A man who breaks America’s promises and commitments. In their hypocrisy, they did not disclose that European companies were the first to run to Tehran to negotiate tens of billions of dollars’ worth of deals, which they stood to lose because Trump would no longer legitimize or fund a government that called for the annihilation of the Jewish people.
The Iran deal was traumatic because it was a catastrophic deal that allowed the Iranians to pocket billions of dollars in benefits to finance terrorism, ballistic missile development and intervention in its neighbors’ affairs in exchange for biding its time before building nuclear weapons. Former US president Barack Obama promised Iran’s behavior would change, but instead it got worse and escalated threats to American interests. President Obama ignored its lies and their threats in search of a foreign policy achievement to attach to his legacy.
Personally, it was difficult to accept that my president would overlook repeated Iranian promises to annihilate Israel and perpetrate a second Holocaust. I lost friends in high political office whose ambition, unwillingness to stand up to Obama, and naiveté toward Iranian intentions allowed them to support the agreement. I feared we would be forced to live with the prospect of a nuclear Iran.
It’s fashionable today to divide America into conservatives and liberals, but I am someone who has believed in a muscular foreign policy and who has spent much of his professional life around liberally-minded people, in academia and media. Liberalism and progressivism have, of course, many positive virtues. The fatal flaw, however, is a refusal to hate evil. Too many on the Left prefer to excuse and give monsters a pass when they make genocidal threats because confronting them might require action rather than appeasement.
To his great credit, Trump has proven to be a man of action when it comes to responding to evil. Unlike Obama he responded with force to the brutal Syrian regime’s use of poison gas against its own people. As in the case of Iran, Obama preferred to take the easy way out and made a deal with Russia to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons. Of course, Assad lied and did not dispose of the weapons, but he undoubtedly took the measure of Obama’s naiveté watching him get played by the Iranians.
Supporters of the flawed Iran deal pooh-poohed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revelations about Iran’s past nuclear activities and maintenance of a secret archive of information designed to help it resume its nuclear program the moment Obama’s deal expired. If they knew Iran was lying all along, why didn’t they speak up? If they knew about Iran’s intentions, why didn’t they insist the archive be destroyed and close the loopholes that allow Iran to ultimately reduce its breakout time – in Obama’s words – “almost down to zero” by the end of the deal?
Trump rightly pointed out that Iran is a threat to the US. One day it could have missiles that could hit the US, but it already has the capability to target our bases, and those of our allies, in Europe and the Middle East. Let’s not forget, as most people have, that the largest number of Americans murdered by terrorists other than on 9/11 were killed by Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah. That organization continues to attack our allies in Syria.
Commentators have been quick to attack Trump’s decision based on the opposition of our European allies to withdrawing from the deal. They have largely ignored the Middle Eastern allies who are directly and immediately threatened by Iran. The Saudis have been calling for tougher action against Iran for years. In fact, they are the only ones to publicly suggest the need to use military force. Iran not only threatens the Gulf states, it also targets other moderate, pro-Western states. Just last week, Morocco cut ties with Iran because Hezbollah sent missiles to the Polisario Front that is engaged in a terrorism campaign against the kingdom.
There is only country, however, that Iran has threatened with annihilation, and that is Israel. The mullahs have repeatedly made genocidal threats against the Jewish state. Iran has also helped Hezbollah amass more than 100,000 rockets in Lebanon aimed at Israel and financed and armed Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria from which to threaten Israel and recently launched a drone from Syria that targeted Israel.
President Trump is proving to be Israel’s great defender. He has stood up to the antisemitic president of the Palestinian Authority and said he will not tolerate his policy of paying terrorists for trying to kill Israelis. He ignored apocalyptic warnings about the supposed consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving America’s embassy there from Tel Aviv. Now the president has made clear he will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could pose an existential threat to Israel.
The decision to tear up the Iran deal was bold and courageous. More important, it demonstrated a moral clarity that Trump’s predecessor lacked. This is an evil regime that must be confronted, not placated. One can only hope the Europeans will sacrifice their desire to advance their economic interests in Iran to the greater good of imposing draconian sanctions on Iran aimed at the full range of what the president rightly called their “destructive” and “destabilizing” activities.
One can also hope that whatever misgivings American Jewry has about President Trump they will be unanimous in their praise and gratitude for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and for destroying the abominable Iran deal which legitimized a government that sworn to the annihilation of the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.