President Trump’s visit to Israel on Monday was more than an American leader visiting his country’s closest ally in the Middle East, it was a day of historic firsts and a total reputation of the eight years of Obama.
In my short time as a journalist, I have seen two different Israeli Prime ministers welcome three different American Presidents to Israel. While all the welcomes had the proper protocol, pomp and circumstance, and bestowed the proper honor on the American leader, I have never seen the Israeli welcoming contingent show such absolute joy at receiving a visit from a POTUS that I observed at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday.
It wasn’t the forced smile of Barack Obama landing at Ben Gurion in 2013, his face not able to hide the fact that his only purpose in being there was his lack of visiting Israel was a campaign issue in 2012 and he wanted to protect the Jewish vote for the upcoming midterms. Bibi’s expression in 2013 was just as sour, the forced smile reminding one of when an unwanted relative comes to visit. In 2017 Netanyahu greeted President in Israel with a wide-grin.
Israeli President Rivlin welcomed President Trump with “Mr. President, we are happy to see that America is back in the area–America is back again.” That wasn’t quite true America never left, but for the past eight years American had a leader who simply did not like the Jewish State. And when he finally made it to Israel after his second inauguration, Barack Obama had already established his contempt for Israel and had secretly begun his pivot away from the traditional U.S. Sunni States, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt toward the Shia terrorist state of Iran.
Not only was President Trump in Israel during his first term as POTUS, but it was during his first trip outside the country. An honor that was not lost on the Prime Minister in his welcoming speech:
Your visit here, Mr. President, is truly historic. Never before has the first foreign trip of a president of the United States included a visit to Israel. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for this powerful expression of your friendship to Israel.
One could tell by Netanyahu switching between Mr. President and Donald in his speech that the Israeli Prime Minister and the American President had a deep bond that started way before their present positions. Bibi went on to praise Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia which signaled a 180 degree shift from Obama’s weak on terror/pro-Iran policies.
Mr. President, yesterday in Saudi Arabia you delivered a forceful speech of clarity and conviction. You called on all nations to drive out terrorists and extremists. You called for the forces of civilization to confront the forces of barbarism. Mr. President, for 69 years, Israel has been doing precisely that. We’ve manned the front lines of civilization; we fought terrorism; and we’ve build a modern, vibrant, democratic, Jewish state. In doing so, Mr. President, we’ve protected all faiths – Muslims, Christians, everyone.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that Trump’s plane was the first publicly reported airplane trip directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel. Not mentioned was that in June 2009 (not his first presidential trip overseas) President Obama went to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, skipping Israel,
Trump’s words focused on the peace process, but unlike the previous President, he actually talked about peace, not the one-sided “Israel must end the settlements or occupation ” verbiage that came out of Obama’s mouth because in his mind only Israel had to make concessions.
On my first overseas trip as president, I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the State of Israel. In this land so rich in history, Israel has built one of the world’s great civilizations, a strong, resilient, determined and prosperous nation. It is also a nation forged in the commitment that we will never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated.
Now we must work together to build a future where the nations of the region are at peace, and all of our children can grow and grow up strong and grow up free from terrorism and violence.
Then Trump did another first, he visited the old city of Jerusalem, he went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, recognized by Christians as the place where Jesus was Crucified. From there he walked to the Kotel, the Western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest spot in all of Judaism.
No other President had visited the Kotel while in office because it can be seen as an acceptance of Israel’s control of the holy site. Trump did not allow Israeli politicians to come to the holy site with him because he felt by visiting the wall he was already indicating he was taking Israel’s side. Donning a kippah (yarmulke). The president entered the Kotel plaza, went up to the wall took a moment to reflect and as is the tradition he stuck a message to God in the wall.
Later in the day the President and FLOTUS found themselves in the Prime Minister’s residence. Before the two leaders met they did the traditional “photo-op/some words” etc. Bibi was effusive in praise of Trumps criticism of Iran, and the Iran deal and both leaders said the new American stance on Iran presented opportunities for peace.
But it was the post meeting statements where Bibi said
I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region, because…
Read the full article by Jeff Dunetz at TheLid.