Let me begin by saying that I’m very proud and grateful to blog with the TOI, a major source of my information. It is solidly committed to supporting truth, exposing lies and so supporting democracy, in a comprehensive and rich way, without being partisan, including on Jewish and Israeli issues. Its journalists and analysts write plentiful and lively English that is accessible and entertaining, and never flowery for the sake of killing readers’ time. They’re on the news like a hawk and clearly motivate by a wish to help build a better world, and are never negative just for the fun of it.
Israel Not Absent
Having said this, one will understand that I take issue with one TOI analyst’s view only with the greatest amount of respect, when he writes that Ignoring Israel, Trump misses chance to push for peace where it counts.
His main point is that Trump only mentioned Israel in passing three times, while he should have called upon those assembled to denounce centuries of hatred for the Jews. However, as the TOI shows in Trump’s notes from before last-minute editing, Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, this journalist overlooked half of the reference. How? Three times President Trump talked about Jews – not Israelis – reaching even further than the last 69 years of Israel’s existence or 120 years since Zionism! Here are the three quotes:
When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.
Of course, there is still much work to do. [….] And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.
For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.
These quotes are golden. It should be mentioned that the present King of Jordan, different from his predecessor, King Hussein, seems allergic to the word Israel or Jew. He was the next speaker, and spoke at length, without even once mentioning the Jewish State and/or People. Just like they were shamelessly glaringly absent from the 15-minute Speech of King Abdullah II of Jordan at the European Parliament (Strasbourg, 10 March 2015). (O, he did mention that Islam means respecting places of worship like mosques, churches and synagogues. Never mind that Jordan destroyed all the synagogues in the part of Jerusalem that it occupied.) How disgraceful! In total contrast was the leader of Egypt now, who spoke after him. I heard only the Arabic, which I don’t speak, but within a short time, he mentioned Jews and Americans. Not even knowing what exactly he said, I’m already pleased.
Back to President Trump. I would like to list the wonderful things he said that were not obvious givens (like praising his host) – and there were many. I will regroup them according to their subjects.
He didn’t only mention the splendor of the rulers that hosted him but also:
the kindness of your citizens.
He pronounced proudly that he was there as:
a representative of the American People.
However, he reiterated from his inaugural address that he had earlier promised:
that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.
Above all, America seeks peace – not war. America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children. It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
In passing he mentions that he’s not a pushover, as he:
made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today. America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination. Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.
Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization. [I]n sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence. Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.
He boldly mentioned Hezbollah and Hamas in one breath with ISIS and Al Qaeda:
The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.
Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death. This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between Good and Evil. [W]e see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.
Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned. Numerous Arab and Islamic scholars have eloquently argued that protecting equality strengthens Arab and Muslim communities. And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents; they save them. For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees.
But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes.
Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless Your Countries. And God Bless the United States of America.
- Many of the delegates present in Riyadh, listening to his speech wore no headphones for translation. Were they all proficient in English or only in attendance to show off their presence and applaud afterwards?
- His speechwriter should not use lengthy words that are unfamiliar to real-estate moguls, like ethnicity.
- The praises of Arab culture as a source of art only, testify to embarrassing ignorance of its profundities in ethics, philosophy, math, computer science, poetry and other literature, you name it. It was like praising the US for having brought the world Cola and Disney and nothing else.
Trump has said wonderful things before, which sounded hollow because he was saying the opposite of what he was doing. His speech to the joint session of Congress of almost three months ago was a case in point.
This is not just a small downside of the speech. It’s like someone who says in a job interview: I’m industrious, super-responsible, a friendly people person, great in a team but also as a leader, brilliant with excellent diplomas, I know how to talk and how to listen well, and I know when to do the one or the other, always supportive of my subjects and my superiors, and I only have one problem – I’m kind of a con artist. Ruins the picture, no?
Time will tell if these well-chosen words by Trump too were toothless sterile uttering devote of importance and consequence, spoken by an insincere person to people who weren’t paying attention, or were changing the course of history for the better as we listened.