Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein released the following statement:
President Trump gave an historic, important, courageous speech urging the Arab Islamic countries to seriously confront Islamic terrorism; to drive terrorists out of their communities and mosques; and to stand together against the persecution and slaughter of innocent Christians, Jews, Muslims and women. President Trump honed in on the fact that the work to be done “means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” And the President properly placed the responsibility on Muslim nations in this battle, noting: “Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization.”
The President’s “drive them [Islamic terrorists] out” mantra was particularly effective and memorable: “Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.”
The President also wisely emphasized “stamping out the threat” of terrorism sponsored by Iran. The President aptly condemned Iran for funding, arming, giving safe harbor to and training terrorists responsible for “spread[ing] destruction and chaos across the region” – including in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. And President Trump courageously condemned the Iranian regime for “speak[ing] openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.” The President called for a unified effort to counteract the Iranian regime, saying: “all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism.” These were important messages for counteracting the damage done by the former administration’s disastrous Iran deal, which greatly empowered Iran’s ability to foment terror.
It was gratifying that President Trump sympathetically mentioned Jews and Israel several times, to Muslim leaders in the Islamic heartland of Saudi Arabia.
We also welcomed the President’s announcement of an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism. It was also important that the President condemned ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas and Al Qaeda in the same sentence – for they are all part of the same scourge of Islamist terror. He made it crystal clear that the Muslim world must play a very significant role in eradicating this evil nightmare from the face of the earth. ZOA was also pleased that the President applauded the Gulf Cooperation Council for designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization last year; and Saudi Arabia for placing sanctions on one of the most senior leaders of Hezbollah.
All in all, the President’s speech deserves high marks and praise.
There are some additional statements that ZOA would like to have seen in the President’s speech, although we understand that even an excellent speech, as this one was, will not cover every point. For instance, it would have been helpful to add the Muslim Brotherhood – the father of almost every terrorist organization – to the list of terrorist organizations that President Trump specifically called out and delegitimized in his speech. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s speech at the Riyadh summit shortly after President Trump spoke, hinted at this. El Sisi stated: “talking about countering terrorism in a comprehensive manner means confronting all terrorist organizations without discrimination. It is not possible to reduce the confrontation to one or two organizations; all terrorist organizations are active on a cancerous network and are interconnected in most parts of the world by numerous bonds, including ideology, funding, as well as military, security and information sharing.”
Fatah and the PLO/PA – which daily incite and pay terrorists to murder Jews – should likewise be placed on any list of terror organizations deserving specific condemnation.
President Trump should urge that Muslim leaders to carefully examine why terrorism regularly emanates from some Muslim societies. On a practical level, it would have been helpful to specifically insist that Muslim leaders end the use of the dangerous textbooks, frequent sermons and media throughout the Muslim world promoting Islamist extremism and violence.
It was disappointing that the President praised Qatar as a “crucial strategic partner”; Qatar should be condemned for being the major funder of Hamas and giving safe haven to Hamas’s leaders. The President should have announced that the U.S. will no longer allow Qatar Airways fly to and from the U.S. until Qatar ends its support for Hamas.
We also regret that, when the President named Middle Eastern nations involved in combatting terrorism, Israel’s vital role in fighting Islamic terrorism was not mentioned. It was also disappointing that the President did not mention the refusal of much of the Muslim world to even negotiate with, let alone accept Israel as a Jewish State.
Regarding the audience’s reaction, it was troubling that there were no outbursts of applause during the speech, only somber faces. (There was applause at the end of the speech.)
Overall, President Trump gave a powerful, critically important speech that confronted the growing scourge of Islamic terrorism to the most important Muslim leaders in the world. That took real Presidential guts – something that President Trump has in abundance.