Four months ago, when Donald Trump last spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he was practically booed off the stage.
Now the Republican presidential front-runner, Trump gave his first serious foreign policy speech, eliciting more than a half-dozen standing ovations from the audience. And, while he was at it, he may have silenced a number of his critics on issues related to Israel.
"I didn't come here tonight to pander to you about Israel," he said. "That's what politicians do: all talk, no action. I came here to speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel."
Right off the bat, he discussed his opposition to the "disastrous" Iran nuclear deal, saying his top priority as president would be to "dismantle" it. The deal is "catastrophic," he said, for America, for Israel, and for the whole Middle East.
Trump said the problem with the deal is fundamental: it rewards the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism with $150 billion while the rest of the world got "absolutely nothing" in return. His biggest concern is that Iran could keep to the terms of the deal and still obtain nuclear weapons by "running out the clock," and it would still keep the billions it got in the deal.
He said as president, he will adopt a strategy that focuses on three aspects with regard to Iran:
- First, the U.S. will stand up to Iran's aggressive push to destabilize and dominate the region, which is a "very big problem, and will continue to be," in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.
- Second, the U.S. will dismantle Iran's global terror network, which has perpetrated attacks in 25 different countries on five continents over the past five years, and which has cells "everywhere, including the Western Hemisphere."
- Third, the U.S. will hold Iran accountable by restructuring the terms of the previous deal; Iran has already test-fired three ballistic missiles with a range of 1,250 miles intended to scare Israel and Europe, upon which the words "Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth" were painted in both Hebrew and Farsi.
Trump then blasted the United Nations for its "weakness" and "utter incompetence." He said the organization is "not a friend" of democracy, freedom, the U.S. or Israel. And he said efforts to impose a U.N. agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must be opposed with the United States' veto power.
He then explained his views on deal making as it applies to Middle East peace.
"Deals are made when parties come to the table and negotiate. Each side must give up something it values in exchange for something it requires. A deal that imposes conditions on Israel and the Palestinian Authority will do nothing to bring peace. It will only further delegitimize Israel and it would reward Palestinian terrorism, because every day they are stabbing Israelis—and even Americans.
"Just last week, American Taylor Allen Force, a West Point grad who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was murdered in the street by a knife-wielding Palestinian. You don't reward that behavior, you confront it!
"It's not up the United Nations to impose a solution. The parties must negotiate a resolution themselves. The United States can be useful as a facilitator of negotiations, but no one should be telling Israel it must abide by some agreement made by others thousands of miles away that don't even really know what's happening."
Trump went further in defending Israel, saying that as president he would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "immediately" to discuss bringing peace and stability back to the region. He then lashed out at the culture fostered by the Palestinians.
"When you live in a society where the firefighters are the heroes, little kids want to be firefighters," he said. "When you live in a society where athletes and movie stars are heroes, little kids want to be athletes and movie stars.
"In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews—we can't let this continue. You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs. Glorifying terrorists is a tremendous barrier to peace.
"In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you've got a culture of hatred that has been fermenting there for years, and if we want to achieve peace, they've got to end this indoctrination of hatred.
"There is no moral equivalency. Israel does not name public squares after terrorists. Israel does not pay its children to stab random Palestinians."
Trump blasted President Obama's form of deal-making, which he said "puts pressure on our friends and rewards our enemies." He said it's the same approach that Democrat presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton applied as secretary of state, which has failed to produce any results.
He said when the U.S. stands with Israel, the prospects for peace will rise. That is what he pledged would happen if he is elected president, noting that he does not go back on his word.
"We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem, and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel," he said. "The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. They must come to the table willing and able to stop the terror being committed on a daily basis against Israel and they must come to the table willing to accept that Israel is a Jewish State and it will forever exist as a Jewish State."
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