I remember well President Trump privately saying that if he was a candidate for Prime Minister in Israel, he would beat even his good friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
This is the level of respect, admiration, and brotherhood the President has developed and nurtured with the Jewish people.
I was reminded by Rabbi David Katz of the Rabbinical Alliance of America that the hallmark of the Jewish nation is showing gratitude and recognition (“makir tov”) to the Almighty and to those who have helped us. We deduce this lesson from the recent Torah portion (Ki Savo, regarding the bikurim, the first fruits that were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem).
Giving thanks and blessings to President Trump as we approach the Days of Awe is not only appropriate but essential.
I was fortunate to be part of the crowd at the Israel Museum on the President’s one and only trip to Israel at the beginning of his term. He was the first sitting president to visit Israel’s Western Wall. That spoke volumes of the incredible and unparalleled relationship that was to ensue between the Trump administration and the State of Israel. On May 14, 2018, President Trump moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Many had promised to do so, but President Trump actually did it.
On March 25, 2019, the President did one better and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Seven months earlier, on September 10, 2018, the President made the bold but overdue move of closing the PLO Mission in Washington, DC.
A month before that, in August of 2018, the President cut $200 million in aid to the PA and stopped giving aid to the UNRWA. These were necessary moves to stem the tide of terrorism against Israel. The UNRWA has helped Hamas store missiles at their facilities during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Earlier, the President had signed into law the “Taylor Force Act” on March 23, 2018. The law was an attempt to stop the “pay to slay” antics of the Palestinian Authority Martyr’s Fund to individuals who committed acts of terrorism and to the families of the deceased terrorist.
On November 23, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made one of the most important proclamations yet by the Trump administration, stating, “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law had not advanced the cause of Peace.” In other words, Israeli towns and villages in Judea and Samaria were not illegal. This was in stark contrast to the Obama administration, which helped the United Nations pass Resolution 2334 in 2016, calling the Israeli towns a “flagrant violation.”
As Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the time, Pompeo had “righted a historical wrong,” and the Trump administration had “accepted the reality on the ground.” This was a huge step forward. In principle, the Trump administration also accepts Israel’s right to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. We all hope that the President will move forward on this, as well.
At the Israeli American Council National Summit on December 8, 2019, the President said, “The Jewish State has never had a better friend in the White House than your President.” I am here to validate that claim and to thank him personally.
At the Chanukah reception on December 11, 2019, in which I was in attendance, the President made a number of remarks that I feel are important in understanding just how close the President is to the Jewish people. Below are a few important quotes.
On his grandchildren: “I’m truly grateful to have the Jewish faith woven so deeply into my family.”
On Chanukah: “However, that small batch of oil kept the flame burning for eight days, an eternal reminder of the Jewish people’s resilience, endurance, and faith. And that’s so true.”
On BDS: “My Administration also forcefully condemns the so-called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.”
Earlier, on December 11, 2019, the President had signed an executive order against anti-Semitism on college campuses. The order would withhold federal funding for colleges or universities that failed to combat discrimination of minority students on campus. This was a great relief for Jews on campus who were constantly being harassed, intimidated, and threatened by different groups.
On anti-Semitism in America: “In the wake of yesterday’s shooting at the New Jersey kosher supermarket and the sinister attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue... that was so terrible. We pledge to be vigilant, determined, and united in defense of Jewish Americans.”
On the terrible Iran Deal, the President, quoting Jared Kushner’s father: “‘The biggest thing of all is what you did by ending the Iran Nuclear Catastrophe.’ So we did that.”
Lastly, the President said, sincerely and humbly about the Jewish people: “We stand in awe of your extraordinary contributions to our country and to humanity.”
We all thank you, Mr. President. Four more years! You deserve at least that and so much more.
Have a happy and healthy New Year!
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.