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Trump delivers a sorely needed dose of reality therapy

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and President Donald Trump meet at the White House on May 3, 2017. Credit: White House/Shealah Craighead.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and President Donald Trump meet at the White House on May 3, 2017. Credit: White House/Shealah Craighead.
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah Stern is the Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, (EMET), an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-America think tank and policy shop in Washington DC. Sarah has more than 30 years of experience on Capitol Hill, and has helped to draft and pass many pieces of legislation, speeches and congressional resolutions including the Koby Mandell Act which resulted in the opening of an office in the Department of Justice (DOJ) entitled the Office for Justice of Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT); the Syria Accountability Act; and a Resolution in support of Israel's right to build a security fence and defend her citizens the way they deem appropriate. Sarah was also instrumental in getting several amendments to Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunities Act in passed in 2008, to correct the anti-American and anti-Israeli biases in Middle East Studies programs that have been funded, at taxpayers’ expense, to a number of U.S. universities. Currently she and her staff are working together with some senior Senate staffers about tightening up some of the loopholes in the Iranian Nuclear Review Act. They are also working with congressional staffers about making sure that U.S. taxpayers’ dollars do not fall into hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps through our contributions to the Lebanese Armed Forces, (now that it has been over-run by Lebanon), having UNRWA’s responsibilities fall under the domain of the UN High Commission of Refugees, and passing the Taylor Force Act, among other issues. Sarah’s work has appeared in numerous media outlets,, CNBC, Newsweek, The New Republic, The Hill, The Washington Times, The Middle East Quarterly, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, The Times of Israel,; Breitbart, InFocus, The American Thinker, The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Jewish Week, and Kol HaBirah, among others. She has appeared on television and radio, and has spoken throughout the country and in Israel on topics including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iranian nuclear threat, global terrorism, Post Zionism, the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, and many more related issues. Sarah is the editor and author of the highly acclaimed book, “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamist Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace.” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) Additionally, she is the author of one novel, “Cherished Illusions,” (2005, Balfour Books). She is married to her husband, Buddy, who is originally from LA, and is the mother of three sons and four grandchildren. Prior to founding EMET, Sarah was the Director of Legislative and Governmental Affairs of the American Jewish Congress. Prior to that, she was the National Policy Coordinator of the Zionist Organization of America. Sarah has a Master’s Degree from Columbia University, and a BA magna cum laude from Boston University.

By Sarah N. Stern/JNS

Dec. 6, 2017, will be forever remembered as a day when a historic wrong had been righted. When President Donald Trump made his long-anticipated announcement that the U.S. not only recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but that he will take steps towards moving the American embassy there, he accomplished something remarkable—he brought some sorely needed reality therapy to the Palestinians.

Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and finally, after 2,000 years, we have come home to our ancient homeland, where we are no longer passive agents in history, but free and active participants in determining our history. Yet Israel has been the one nation in the world that, up until Dec. 6, had been denied the freedom to choose its own capital and have it recognized by the international community, and to have the nations of the world respect and honor that decision.

Of the 190 nations with which the U.S. has diplomatic relations, up until this week, Israel had been the only one whose capital had lacked recognition from America.

Contrary to what some of the State Department types have argued, this is not a concession to Israel. This is American law, and has been so since 1995. Yes, prior presidents have taken advantage of a presidential waiver in the law, arguing that it is “not the right time.”

According to these stale State Department types, it is never the right time.

They argue that it will “destroy the peace process.” One might ask, “What peace process?”

The truth is that there has not been any peace process to speak of for at least a year. The latest round of official Israeli-Palestinian talks, held from 2013-2014, broke down under Secretary of State John Kerry because the Palestinian Authority (PA) refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, stated in December 2016 that recognizing Israel for what it is, a Jewish state, was “unacceptable.”

If Trump’s statement is going to cause mass violence, it is not the fault of the U.S. nor of Israel.  It is the fault of the Palestinians, who have not even recognized pre-1967 Israel in their textbooks, who teach that all of pre-1967 Israel will one day become “Palestine,” and who have television programs indoctrinating children that Haifa, Tel Aviv, and west Jerusalem will all someday be theirs.

On Nov. 29, 1947, prior to President Harry Truman recognizing Israel at the United Nations, people had told Truman that the recognition would only lead to mass rioting. What would have happened if Truman had listened?

The Arabs and Palestinians have always used the threat of violence as a negotiating tool. The longer we cower to the threat of violence, the more we reinforce that as a legitimate tool of negotiations.

Either we have a policy and a law, or we do not. We should not change our policies to appease the most violent participants on the world stage. It simply does not work, but rather begets more violence.

By using appeasement, we do not gain the respect of the international community, nor of the Muslim and Arab world. As Osama bin Laden had said, “When someone sees a weak horse, and a strong horse, it is natural to bet on the strong horse.”

Those who argue otherwise are engaging in what the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” They are simply being patronizing to the Palestinians.

What message does that send to the Palestinian leadership when there are government spokesmen around the globe saying that we expect the Palestinians to engage in violence? We are giving them a pretense for violence and bloodshed, which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The Palestinians need to learn that no matter what dangerous illusions of conquest they are teaching their children, Israel will never cede its capital of Jerusalem—not after 3,000 years of history.

And they need to learn, once and for all, that Israel is here to stay.

In this way, Trump’s Dec. 6 speech was a sorely needed dose of reality therapy for the Palestinians.

Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), which describes itself as an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.

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