U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo overturned a fundamentally flawed (and politically motivated) legal analysis last month that had been in place since the Carter administration in 1978 that claimed Jews had no right to live in their ancient holy places or adjacent to their ancestral burial grounds.
From the 1981 Reagan administration on, subsequent administrations disregarded Carter’s fatally flawed “Hansell Memorandum,” a four-page advisory memo on the legality of Israel’s settlements. The Trump administration went the extra step, applying an exhaustive and authoritative legal analysis to lay the Hansell memo to rest for good. Pompeo’s declaration recognizes Israel’s right to allow Jews to live in the biblical heartland territories that had been conquered by Jordan and ethnically cleansed of Jews in 1949.
This landmark shift in policy and the political will it demonstrated, got me thinking about the list of similar efforts the Trump administration has made with regard to Israel over its first two years.
I’m an American Jew, and last year I started keeping a running tab in my notebook as I was pleasantly surprised time after time by the White House’s strong pushback against anti-Semitic double standards.
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I thought it appropriate at that time to express my gratitude for what our president and the United States have done in the cause of justice. To that end, I put together the following list.
To date, Trump has:
1. Recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital in accordance with longstanding American law.
2. Recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
3. Recognized Israel’s legitimate legal rights in Judea and Samaria.
4. Withdrawn from the flawed and dangerous 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran and reapplied sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
5. Appointed Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner to evaluate and revise the failed 25-year Oslo process.
6. Closed the PLO terrorist organization’s office in Washington, D.C.
7. Defunded the Palestinian Authority over its support for terrorism and failure to live up to its obligations under Oslo.
8. Pulled the United States out of UNESCO over its compliance with the P.A.’s “narrative warfare” against the Jewish state, prompting Israel to do the same.
9. Defunded UNRWA, the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency.
10. Selected Mike Pence as his vice president, a well-known pro-Israel Christian Zionist and successful Indiana governor who has brought his love of Bible history and the Jewish people with him to the White House.
11. Appointed former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to speak with common sense on Israel at the United Nations and to challenge the rampant anti-Semitism there.
12. Appointed U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, an honest representative of American interests who does not bow to anti-Semitic pressure and who freely visits Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
13. Appointed Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. A religious person who deeply connects to Israel, it was Pompeo who announced the new policy that fights back against the lie of occupation and illegality that attempted to paint Israel as a land thief in the territory it liberated from illegal Jordanian occupation.
14. Appointed Ken Marcus as Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights.
15. Became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem (both Trump and Pence visited Israel in the first year of their administration, in May 2017 and Jan. 2018, respectively.)
16. Deleted the P.A. (a non-state actor) from the State Department “list of countries.”
17. Appointed Elan Carr, a Jewish U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq war and a highly regarded lawyer, as Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism.
18. Appointed Kelly Craft as new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Haley. Craft is already off to a strong start, popping anti-Semitism bubbles.
In this time of great lies and disinformation, fake news and fake history, this president has been a stalwart fighter for truth.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Dr. Alexander Bernath is a urologist in Sherman, Texas.