White House

President Trump, in search of Mideast peace, take the road less traveled and tackle hate before borders

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

President Trump is scheduled to make his first foreign trip later this month with stops that will include the Vatican, Saudi Arabia and the Holy Land. In remarks at the National Day of Prayer on May 4, the President said he hoped to bring “safety, opportunity, and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East” with his visits to these centers of three of the great world religions. 

In the Middle East, the President will find a legendary region of alluring oases and fatal mirages. His challenge will be to reinforce U.S. bonds with proven allies still reeling from an ever-more-threatening Iranian regime that was empowered by the previous American administration. He will also need to spurn false peace promises, and promote the religious foundations of interfaith and international tolerance. A tall order indeed.

Mostly, though, in his quest for greater stability and peace in the Middle East, the President should consider taking a road less traveled by his predecessors: tackling hatred before borders.

His arrival in the Holy Land will find many Israelis who feel they have no peace partner to negotiate with.  The Palestinian Authority (PA), under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, is a profoundly corrupt organization despite – or rather in large part due to – massive amounts of funding from the West.  

And this funding continues to flow despite the virulent hatred and lies preached by Palestinian leaders, government organizations and schools.

Abbas’ remarkable ability to tell a bald-faced lie while looking a world leader in the eye was on full display at the White House when he told President Trump, “We are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace. And we are endeavoring to bringing about security, freedom, and peace for our children to live like the other children in the world along with the Israeli children in peace, freedom, and security.”

Hogwash. Abbas and his PA cronies are using American tax dollars to brainwash yet another generation of Palestinian children to hate their Jewish neighbors as they name schools in “honor” of terrorists and pay the families of suicide bombers monthly stipends.

Abbas the PA are not alone in this duplicity. Abbas’ arch rival, the terrorist group Hamas, has launched a PR campaign to present itself to the world as the true leaders of the Palestinians. Hamas leaders now don three-piece suits rather than keffiyeh and have allegedly dropped some of the more explicitly genocidal verbiage from their anti-Israel charter.

But Hamas’ barbarity is undiminished. For instance, Human Rights Watch confirms they continue to hold two Israeli non-combatants with known mental health problems. And the bodies of Hadar Goldin, a young Israeli soldier murdered by Hamas during a U.S.-brokered ceasefire in the last Gaza war, and Oron Shaul, another Israeli soldier killed in action, are still held by Hamas—acts that violate Muslim law, as revealed in a rather remarkable video.

The superhighway of terror tunnels being burrowed underground toward Israeli communities continues unabated. Thousands of rockets, purposely embedded into the civilian infrastructure, continue to be stockpiled for the next war with the “occupiers.”

And the hate continues unabated as well, despite claims on the part of UNWRA, the UN agency that runs schools that educate Gaza’s young, that they have introduced a Holocaust and “peace” curriculum. Not true. Again, American tax dollars are going to schools where – according to a recent documentary – students as young as 13 proudly declare they want to join ISIS and kill Jews.

Hamas has yet to formally abandon the heart of its genocidal, anti-Semitic 1988 Charter, which insists “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it….” 

So, amid all of this hate, where should the President begin in a search for peace?

As I said before, by taking a road less traveled by his predecessors and tackling hatred before borders.

First, the US should block funds for the Palestinians and UNRWA that are used to inculcate hatred or to pay families of terrorists who murder Israelis and Americans.

In Riyadh the President should demand that the Saudis stop their poisonous global Wahhabi campaign that undermines the basis of religious tolerance of Muslims with Christians and Jews everywhere.

And at the Vatican, President should emphasize his administration’s commitment to protect endangered religious minorities throughout the Middle East, starting with the Christians and Yezidis.

The new Trump Middle East policy should be based on transparency; which leads to accountability; accountability diminishes corruption; reducing hate brings hope; hope leads to trust and trust will lead to peace.

God speed, Mr. President, on your peace mission.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter.