Watching Trump’s first trip abroad from my home in Israel was a nail biting experience.
As an American, I was shocked to see him elected POTUS.
As an Israeli, I was glad it was him and not her.
We’d seen the results of the Clinton-Obama policies regarding the Middle East and suffered the results. Anything, even the orange colored unhinged man had to be less bad.
During his candidacy, Trump promised to be the best friend Israel has ever had. He promised to right the historical wrong and move the embassy to where it always should have been – Jerusalem.
But then again, we’re used to hearing these promises from US politicians. Obama also declared himself the greatest friend Israel has ever had. The transfer of embassy was passed into US law in 1995 and every President since has been postponing the move. This betrayal is not new and Trump still has opportunity to amend this.
We watched Trump in Saudi Arabia as he reinstated America’s role in the Middle East, signed deals that would protect many American jobs (in Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) and give Saudi Arabia tools to defend themselves and their interests against Iran.
He seemed to be hitting all the right notes to heal the damage done by Obama and his Iran deal.
Now was not the time to lecture Saudi Arabia on the things they do wrong but to get them to be willing to listen to America again. To declare that America can again be an instrument of balance in this crazy part of the world.
That done, there was the question of what would he do in Israel? This unexpected man could come and be friendly in what was supposed to be a rather symbolic visit but he could also, even unwittingly, blurt out something that would turn everything upside-down for us.
We hoped we’d get a friend, have a pleasant visit and that he’d go home.
Instead, after eight years of smooth words and life-threatening actions, we got a warm embrace, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The leader of the free world told us that he knew we had been treated horribly, that our lives had been put in danger but that under his watch things would get better.
He said that he would not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.
He recognized and paid respect to our ancient heritage (which under Obama’s auspices and the UN has been denied) – the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, through the ages, the times of both Temples and through the Holocaust to the re-establishment of Israel.
He called on the nations of the world to look towards Israel, the way we protect human dignity and religious freedom and instructed them to draw inspiration from us. There was no moral relativism, no appeasement of terrorism and no hint of forcing on us actions that would put us in further danger.
What a refreshing change.
We have no idea what will come next. We are very well aware that this man is unexpected, does not delve deep into the details of policy and can suddenly decide to go in another direction.
We just hoped for a friendly visit and not to be damaged. Instead, we received acknowledgment of who we really are as a nation, understanding and true friendship.
From the First Lady, we saw grace, dignity, modesty and deep compassion.
What will come next?
God only knows but what we have seen so far is better than anything we have ever seen before.