Trump addresses war on terror, Mideast peace during SOTU

Jewish Democratic Council of America: “President Trump doesn’t represent the views and values of American Jews."

U.S. President Trump delivers State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington (photo credit: REUTERS)
U.S. President Trump delivers State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump addressed radical Islamism and the Mideast peace plan in the annual State of the Union address, saying his administration has been defending the country’s national security and combating terrorism.
“Last week, I announced a groundbreaking plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said 45 minutes into his address, noting the need to “be creative to stabilize” the Middle East.
The president also said that three years ago the “barbarians of ISIS” held vast amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria. Today, “the territorial caliphate is 100% destroyed.”
He then reminded viewers that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by US forces.
Trump likewise referenced the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who the president described as the “most ruthless butcher who wounded thousands of service members... and orchestrated the death of countless men, women and children.
“I killed Soleimani,” Trump said, “and terminated his evil reign of terror forever... My message to terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice. If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life.”
The president opened the State of the Union by saying the days of the US “being used, taken advantage of or even scorned by other nations are long behind us.”
“I am thrilled to report to you tonight our economy is the best it is has ever been,” he said. “The military is completely rebuilt with its power not being matched anywhere in the world... America’s enemies are on the run.”
Trump avoided the subject of his impeachment in his pugnacious 80-minute speech, but the scars from the battle were evident with fellow Republicans giving him standing ovations while Democrats for the most part remained seated. Several Democratic lawmakers refused to attend the speech to protest Trump, such as liberal firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Republican-led Senate was expected to acquit him on Wednesday of charges that allege he abused his powers as president and obstructed Congress.
Trump entered the chamber with Democrats experiencing some measure of chaos after technical glitches delayed the results of voting in Iowa on Monday as the party seeks a nominee to face the incumbent Republican.
As he began the speech, Republicans from both houses of Congress chanted “four more years” while he stood at the lectern in the chamber of the House with a presidential election almost exactly nine months away.
Democrats sat silently and some could be seen shaking their heads as Trump declared, “The state of our union is stronger than ever before.”
The president touted the administration’s investment of $2.2 trillion in the US military.
“We have purchased the finest planes, missiles, rockets, ships and every other form of military equipment and it is all made right here in the USA,” he said. “We are also getting our allies finally to help pay their fair share.”
The majority of the address focused on domestic issues. Last February, Trump declared a state of emergency over the situation at the US southern border, which had seen a rise in the number of migrants entering the country. During the address, Trump said “a long, tall and very powerful wall is being built” to keep these migrants out.
“We have now completed over 100 miles and will have over 500 miles fully completed in a very short period of time,” he said. “Early next year will have more than 500 miles completed.”
The president touted the economy, saying there are currently a “record number of Americans” now employed.
He also focused on healthcare, claiming that in the five years before he took office, the cost of healthcare had more than doubled. He said there are new plans now that are up to 60% less expensive and better.
Trump said he “made an ironclad commitment that we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions and we will always protect your Medicare and your social community – always.”
Trump slammed Democratic plans as a “socialist takeover” that would bankrupt the country and cut benefits by providing care to illegal immigrants.
“We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare,” Trump said.
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed healthcare plans that would be entirely run by the government, a sharp departure from the current, private system in which millions of Americans receive medical insurance from their employers.
The president then awarded conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who on Tuesday revealed he is suffering from advanced lung cancer, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. First Lady Melania Trump placed the medal on the visibly surprised Limbaugh.
Trump played to his Evangelical and far-right voters by calling on Congress to “pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies.
“Every human life is a sacred gift from God,” he said.
Similarly, the president went on to talk about his efforts to “defend religious liberty and that includes the constitutional right to pray in public schools.”
“In America, we don’t punish prayer,” he said. “We don’t tear down crosses... we don’t muzzle preachers and pastors. We celebrate faith, cherish religion, lift our voices in prayer and raise our sites to the glory of God.”
Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer said the address was delivered by a president whose egregious wrongdoings are clear to the American people and whose policies, rhetoric and behavior are antithetical to Jewish and American values.”
“Instead of dissecting President Trump’s State of the Union address, we are putting the pieces of our country back together by electing Democrats who share our values,” she said. “We don’t accept the State of the Union as President Trump outlined tonight, and instead are focused on changing the state of our union by laying the groundwork for Democratic victories in November.
“President Trump doesn’t represent the views and values of American Jews; we are taking direct action to protect our country, bring about change, and elect Democrats who represent our values.”
Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden tweeted that it was the administration of president Barack Obama that “brought the economy back from the brink of depression, saved the auto industry, and made health care available to millions of families. Donald Trump gave billionaires a tax break.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who dropped her opposition to impeachment and allowed Democratic lawmakers to seek the charges against him, sat stoically and grim-faced behind Trump and paged through a paper copy of his speech. When the talk was over, she ripped up her copy of the speech.
Just before the talk, Trump ignored Pelosi's outstretched hand to greet him.

Similarly, Congressman Tim Ryan tweeted that he had walked out of the speech, along with members of Congress Bill Pascrell Jr. and Rashida Tlaib.

“I’ve had enough. It’s like watching professional wrestling. It’s all fake,” Ryan wrote.
Tlaib said, “The lies, the bigotry, and the shameless bragging about taking away food stamps that people depend on to live – it was all beneath the dignity of the office he occupies. Shame on this forever-impeached president.”
Left-wing lawmaker Ilhan Omar reacted by simply tweeting a photo of herself and Tlaib with a message: “This is what America looks like.”

Omri Nahmias contributed to this report.