Assessments of Donald Trump’s presidency vary widely depending on who is doing the assessing. But if future generations of historians aren’t total social justice warriors — as is likely given the fact that the socialist bubble bursts almost immediately every time socialism is implemented — Trump will almost certainly be judged as one of America’s greatest presidents, barring economic or other disaster while he is in the White House. One key reason for this is his departure from what had been standard “Israeli/Palestinian peace process” procedure.
Ever since since the British incited riots against Jews in Palestine in 1920, the standard approach has been this: Western powers demand substantive concessions from the Israelis and promises from the Palestinian Arabs, and continue to do so even as Palestinians flout all agreements and promises they made, never holding Palestinians accountable for their actions or attaching any consequences to them.
After nearly a century of this, Trump began to reward the Israelis for their commitment to peace and penalize the Palestinians for their commitment to war. As the new book The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process details, Trump fulfilled a campaign promise and shocked the world on December 6, 2017 by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing that the U.S. embassy would move there. “When I came into office,” Trump said, “I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking. We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.” If that were true of anything, it was true of the “peace process.”
Trump continued: “My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” He pointed out that in 1995, the U.S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, asking that the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama had all promised to do so but signed a waiver every year postponing the recognition and the move.
This was a clear capitulation to jihad terror: Clinton, Bush, and Obama were allowing jihad terrorists’ threats to dictate American policy. Trump ended all that. No longer would the United States capitulate to violent intimidation.
“Presidents issued these waivers,” Trump said, “under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace.” However, “after more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result. Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Trump also noted that denying Israel the right that every nation had, to determine its own capital, was a challenge to its very status as an independent nation: “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”
Trump’s approach wasn’t entirely new: he emphasized that the move was “not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved…. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.”
Enraged, Mahmoud Abbas severed all diplomatic contact between the Palestinian Authority and the United States. But unlike his predecessors, Trump was not intimidated, and moved swiftly to make the embassy move a reality: the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem opened on May 14, 2018, the seventieth anniversary of Israel’s independence.
If future historians are just judges, they will mark that as the day the U.S. stopped submitting to bullying and began moving toward a more realistic foreign policy.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.