Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All

A Teacher Grades President Trump on Israel

Op-Ed written three years ago about expectations for the Trump Administration (Screenshot by the author)

Good teachers assess their students regularly and in innovative ways. Gone are the days of multiple choice tests and long essay quizzes; taking their place are games, portfolios and shark-tank like presentations. A fair teacher makes it clear to their students what is expected from their students well before they begin working on their assignments and assessments. Rubrics that teacher’s hand to their students must be clear and detailed. Students shouldn’t be made to work hard on their assignments and then find out their teacher expected something completely different.

In January 2017, right after President Trump was inaugurated, I wrote an op-ed about the U.S.- Israel relationship and the new Trump Administration. I titled it “My Three Expectations of the Trump Administration.” I began it by writing, “I have three specific expectations of the Trump administration. As the next four years unfold, I will judge the Trump administration by these three factors.” I was a teacher and laid out my rubric clearly. It’s four years later; Let’s see how well President Trump and his administration met the expectations I set out four years ago:

1) A healthy and productive relationship with Israel
It can be argued that the Trump administration developed the healthiest and most productive of any relationship with Israel of any administration before it. In this section I listed the following specifics:
a) President Trump should go out of his way to show that the US-Israel relationship is strong. 100%
b) He should meet often with Prime Minister Netanyahu and treat him with respect. 100%
c) No longer should America have daylight between it and its allies, while bringing its enemies closer. 100%
d) The memorandum of understanding signed between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu should be rewritten with the provisions unfavorable to Israel removed. 0%
e) This would include no longer requiring Israel to spend 100% of American aid in America, but reverting back to the Bush agreement which required a 75/25 split. 0%
f) Money for missile defense would not have to be included in the annual aid package and Israel would be allowed to ask for more aid if it required it. 65%
g) Israel’s qualitative military edge should be maintained and military and intelligence cooperation should be extended even past the high levels of the past eight years. 90%
h) President Trump should continue the longstanding tradition of defending Israel at the United Nations. 100%
i) If there are disagreements between the two countries they should be expressed directly and privately between the two countries, not through press leaks, State department briefings, or any other public forum. 80%
j) President Trump should quickly announce and begin moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. 100%
k) Along with the move should come an official policy change that barring an Israeli change in policy, America stands behind Israel’s position that an undivided Jerusalem is its Capital. 100%

2) Iran
a) Iran must be warned that its sponsorship of terror, ballistic missile testing, harassment of US naval ships, and human rights abuses must come to an immediate end or harsher sanctions will be imposed. 85%
b) Included in this warning must be a warning to Iran sponsored Hezbollah to disarm in accordance with UN resolution 1701. 30%
c) Any sort of nuclear weapons activity, even if only by suspicion will not be tolerated and will be seen as a breach of the Iran deal. 100%
It should be noted, I didn’t even expect the President to pull out of the Iran deal. He did, far surpassing my expectations.

3) Palestinians & The West Bank
a) President Trump needs to express the need for immediate direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and the end to Palestinian incitement to violence against Israelis. 100%
b) The Palestinian Authority must be threatened with even more redirection of American aid from the Palestinian Authority to local NGO’s who assist the Palestinian community. 100% President Trump did this and even more. President Trump cut off ALL aid to the Palestinians.
c) The United Nations should be put on notice that America no longer supports the ostracizing of Israel through its settlement policies. 100% (and even more.)
d) President Trump needs to take steps against Hamas and threaten to cut off American aid to Gaza if it continues being hijacked by Hamas for use in rocket manufacturing and tunnel building. 100%
e) After every attack against Israel, the White House or State Department spokesman should condemn the attack while holding the Palestinian Authority responsible for incitement through setting a violent culture. 30%

After four years in the White House managing the U.S.-Israel relationship The President and his administration met most expectations and surpassed many more. I’m not saying that your vote should depend completely on the President’s performance on Israel. I’m also not saying that my perspective is the only one to consider or that you have to agree with my conclusions. This high grade doesn’t mean the President automatically deserves your vote or that I’m endorsing him for President. This was one assignment that the President and his team scored exceedingly well.

Trump critics will disagree with my assessment. They will list many policies and outcomes they think were ill-advised and weakened Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship. They maintain that Israel will only be safe pursuing a two state solution and the President alienated the Palestinians. They thought the Iran deal was the only way to ensure Iran didn’t go nuclear and the President’s withdrawal from the deal is bringing Iran closer to a nuclear weapon. I don’t agree with those positions but as I say in my classroom, I’m the teacher and I get to fill out the report card. In a democracy every citizen gets to fill out their own report card. Now’s the time to fill out yours.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.
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